From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, February 3, 2014

How Building A Writing Career Is Like Playing A Rigged Game of Mario Kart

So I'm not a huge gamer, and I'm definitely still in the Nintendo 64 age (because seriously, you don't get better than 64 Donkey Kong). But I definitely have some fond childhood memories playing games like Smash Brothers, Mario Party, and, of course, Mario Kart.

So how is book marketing like a rigged game of Mario Kart? I like having mental images and metaphors to explain and contextualize things, so bare with me for a second.

Imagine if in Mario Kart, the routes and winners were pre-determined. That in each race, the tracks were randomly selected, and there were only certain characters that could win depending on the track. Not just that, but that the "winning" characters changed all the time too.

Really frustrating, right? Of course. It feels futile to even play. But that's often how book marketing can feel. We often see certain books getting huge success in large part because they fit into the trend that happened to be the book "track" of the moment. Many are great books, many are not so great, I'm just saying it often comes down to luck.

However, when we try to change our characters--be the person that's winning all the races--then things change, and we still don't end up winning. It can feel like whatever we try isn't working.

So then, how do we deal with this?

I was always--ALWAYS--Yoshi. Yoshi's the bomb. Out of the two variables I've mentioned, character and track, there is one over which we have control. We can choose to be true to ourselves, stay with our character, stick to our guns. We can write the stories we feel passionate about. And the thing is, even though we don't have control over the track, and maybe we're having to run race after race on tracks where the predetermined winner is Princess Peach, eventually, our track will come. One day our character will be exactly where he needs to be. And if we've been trying to chase trends, we'll miss that shot.

Another thing. If you're a Yoshi running a race on a Princess Peach track, just because you know you can't come in first or even second place, you can still fight for as much as possible. You can fight for third or fourth place, rather than settling for last, and that will make you stronger and more prepared for when your track does come. And it will come.

So get ready--write the best books you can. Get set--keep plugging away on all the marketing you can do. And GO!

Sarah Allen


  1. I really LOVED your book, so I'm sure you'll succeed in what you have in mind for your career.

  2. Yes - this is EXACTLY what it's like! But you're absolutely right - all we can do is stay true to our own writing and hope that our day comes soon. Best of luck! :)

  3. Great analogy. We have to remain true to ourselves and have patience. Our track will come.

  4. The gaming analogies were completely lost on me LOL but I like the main message-- be true to yourself. Good advice in whatever we're trying to accomplish!

  5. Very true. also helps to pick up a power-up every now and again (or coffee as it's also called).

    Moody Writing

  6. This is one of the many reasons I'm self-publishing. But to those who chose another path, best of luck. May the track be with you. :)

  7. I've read some great stories that seem to go nowhere. I think writing, marketing, etc help but mostly is luck and word of mouth that put a writer/racer out front.

    Loved the post.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette


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