Did you ever study the fire triangle in school? You know, it's just a triangle with three sides – oxygen, heat and fuel – and if you take away any one of them, you no longer have a fire.
Well, as far as I can see, success is like that.
To be successful, at writing or at anything else, you need to have talent. Whatever it is you're trying to achieve, you must have at least some skill at it or you'll get nowhere.
You also need to work hard. It's no use having a talent at something if you don't apply that talent; if you don't spend time and effort on it.
But the third side, and perhaps the least acknowledged, is luck. You need to have luck if you want success. Because the most successful people in any field aren't simply those who have the greatest talent or work the hardest, though no doubt some of them would like us to believe that. They're talented and hard-working, yes, but they also happened to be in the right place at the right time.
If the big-name bestselling books of today hadn't caught the public's imagination at just the right moment; if they hadn't had precisely that marketing campaign; if they hadn't landed in front of that agent or that publisher whose personal taste they appealed to; if that review or that tweet or that post hadn't caught the eye of that influential person … well, we'd have other bestsellers.
Because for every fabulously successful author, there are five or fifty or five hundred authors who are just as talented. Just as hard-working. But not quite as lucky.
Which is why I'm writing this before my first book comes out. If the book is a total failure, I can look back at this post and try to cheer myself up with the thought that it was at least partly down to factors beyond my control. And conversely, if I somehow become amazingly famous and adored, I can use it as a reminder to myself to acknowledge how fortunate I am – because it could so easily have gone the other way.
What do you think? Are certain books always going to be successful, no matter what the circumstances? Or does luck always play a part?