Can a GENIUS thrive in today’s self-publishing world?



By genius, I don’t mean as measured by an IQ or any other kind of test.

I mean qualitatively, someone with an exceptional natural ability.

(Look up the word in a thorough dictionary and you might be surprised at some of the definitions of this word. I received a little vocabulary lesson.)

There are many different ways that one could be a genius writer.

  • There is one kind of genius who masters a particular writing style, and there are many different kinds of writing.
  • Then there is a genius storyteller.
  • There are geniuses when it comes to characterization.
  • Or the genius could be about content knowledge and the genius writer could be someone who is sharing that knowledge.
  • Or it may be a teacher who is a genius in terms of communication skills and instruction.
  • How about a genius in the visual arts who is creating an illustrated book?

My point is that there are many different ways that we could interpret what it means to be a genius writer. So let’s not restrict ourselves to any particular one.


I’d like to believe that a writing genius of any kind could and would thrive in today’s self-publishing world.

But I see pros and cons. And I imagine different kinds of writing geniuses, some of whom may be able to adapt better.

Obviously, any writing genius has a strength which serves as an obvious advantage. Whatever the writing genius excels at—be it writing, storytelling, content knowledge, communication, etc.—being exceptional at this is an obvious advantage.

But everybody, even those who excel at most of the things they try, has weaknesses. Everybody has something that could use improvement. In today’s publishing world, every little flaw gets exposed. But having an exceptional feature to offset the weaknesses still works to one’s advantage.

Many geniuses have quirks of some kind. The genius who strongly resists socializing has a disadvantage when it comes to marketing. The genius who can’t handle rejection well has a huge hurdle to cross when it comes to customer reviews. The genius who ignores something that may be important to readers, wishing only to focus on what he or she feels is important, may struggle to find an audience (but not necessarily—though this mentality could also extend into a complete neglect of marketing).

My feeling is that, in order to thrive in today’s self-publishing world, the writing genius needs to (A) recognize his or her weaknesses and be willing to improve them and (B) recognize his or her quirkiness and be willing work around it.

Then there is the issue of confidence versus humility. It’s easy for a genius to become accustomed to being right and therefore develop much confidence, which is one of the keys to success both in writing and marketing, but over-confidence can be quite detrimental.

Another issue lies in the communication skills. Suppose the genius has a huge vocabulary, a varied arsenal of language skills, and/or higher-level reasoning skills. The writer may be overmatched for writing toward a popular audience. This particular writer either needs to find a niche who appreciates the language and reasoning challenges, or work to deliver the language and reasoning at the right level for the intended audience. This can be a challenge.

Higher-level reasoning can be a major asset though, as it allows a storyteller to develop a complex plot that readers won’t easily predict.

Many geniuses do have a knack for a few keys to success. The following strengths may easily make up for other challenges.

  • Independence/leadership: It takes either independence or leadership (perhaps both) to successfully self-publish, and many geniuses excel at working independently. The leadership can help when one realizes that even a genius can’t do everything well, and self-publishing just has too many aspects to do it all perfectly. Here we return to the need to recognize one’s weaknesses.
  • Creativity: A creative genius can use this to produce masterful content (though novelty sometimes isn’t accepted), and creativity in marketing can sometimes help marketing stand out (it can also make the marketing more fun, better motivating you to market).
  • Motivation: When a writing genius chooses to write for his or her own reasons, he or she can exhibit amazing self-motivated diligence. This helps to focus on the project from the conception of the idea through all the stages of publishing and even into the marketing.

What do you think? Would a writing genius thrive in today’s market?

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Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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