Is talent rare? Well, extraordinary genius-level talent is certainly rare, but good old down home talent is abundant within humanity. Just go to any local theater production at a community college or other amateur club. Most of the performances will be adequate, but there's always someone who really shines.
It's like this with writing too. Most people are reasonably literate. Some of them enjoy writing as a creative outlet. And, from that group, some of them will write books that are great to read.
Because self publishing, or indie publishing as it now styles itself, has become a feasible outlet for many writers, the talent is escaping from the confines of a traditional and orderly literary universe. From all quarters, people are writing and publishing without waiting to be tapped on the shoulder by a high authority that once was able to glamour every writer with the illusion of respect and success.
The gates of the publishing kingdom have been breached by a clamoring horde banging away with laptops and Kindles and POD contracts and a vast host of websites. People never realized so many people were capable of writing books. Why? Because they used to never get published. Before computers and the internet were widespread, aspiring authors had to sadly file their rejection letters or burn them in a fit of petulant rage, pack manuscripts away in boxes, and move past their foolish idea that anyone wanted to read their novels. Novels were written by talented people, and publishers knew who talented people were because they conducted exhaustive searches. Just like professional baseball, publishers have scouts lurking around writing groups and MFA classes and rummaging through the trash bins of lonely frustrated-looking people. Wait, no they don't. There I go writing fiction again. How dare I?
The truth is more people write books than publishing businesses could possible produce. Creativity is one of the defining features of humanity. I recently read Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class, and his demographic research discussed the tremendous potential of creativity in people and how that creativity is the great engine of our modern economy. For example, the creative work of computer scientists launched entire new industries. As a result more people than ever before feel entitled to pursue their creative interests and express them.
"Creativity has come to be valued - and systems have evolved to encourage and harness it - because new technologies, new industries, new wealth and all other good economic things flow from it. And as a result, our lives and society have begun to resonate with a creative ethos…It is our commitment to creativity in its varied dimensions that forms the underlying spirit of our age."
The human population contains a great deal of creative capital. The sheer numbers of people participating in independent publishing reveal the extent to which old technology, attitudes, and business models stifled writing as an outlet for people. Now word processors, digital distribution, social media, and major online retailers willing to list independently produced content mean writers have an outlet and an audience. They don't have to wait around for rejection anymore.
Of course just because a person produced his or her writing independently does not mean fame and fortune will follow. There will be a few stars, many modest successes defined in subjective personal terms, and I suppose a multitude of embarrassing failures. But at least people get to try now. They get to actively seek an audience for their writing. Like the actors in community theater, writers can at a minimum earn polite applause and make their mothers proud in a public venue.
And a few with appreciable talent might even get to develop their craft and profit from a following of readers. A tiny few might even get picked up by large companies and put in bookstores. Someone might even get a movie deal.
With indie publishing, any writer who is interested gets a chance. Not everyone can win the lotto, but we can all buy a ticket and play now.
Author's statement: I have been independently publishing my fantasy series The Rys Chronicles for five years now. I was making sales before there was any Smashwords, or Kindle, or Nook, or iPad, or any ceaseless internet chatter about ebooks. I'm so excited to see indie publishing becoming part of the mainstream market for readers. To see if my fantasy novels suit your style go to www.braveluck.com and download for free Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I at http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/Union_of_Renegades.html
P.S. And thank you Chris Kelly for the opportunity to be a guest writer. May you have much success with Invictus.