Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I Want to be the Wilt Chamberlain of Self-Publishing

Like a lot of indies, I dream of one day attaining a singular level of success as a writer. I haven't quite figured out what that success would look like or how to define it, but at the moment I assume it will include selling lots and lots of books.  In having a discussion about this with one of my work colleagues (most of whom don't know I have a writing career in addition to the day job), my co-worker remarked that I seem to want to be the "Michael Jordan of self-publishing."

That's actually a fine comparison; in fact, I think most of us (including me) would be happy being the "Michael Jordan" of our chosen career fields - the Michael Jordan of just about anything, truth be told.  But when I thought about it, if there's a sports icon that I'd want my writing career to emulate, shockingly, it wouldn't be His Airness.

Frankly speaking, if I had my druthers, I'd want to be the Wilt Chamberlain of self-publishing.

To understand that comment, you'd have to take an objective look at Wilt and the things he accomplished on the basketball court.  Without question, Wilt was the greatest basketball player of all time, and the stats bear that out.  Don't believe me?  Well let's take a little stroll through the annals basketball history.

Wilt Scored 100 points in a Single Game

It seems impossible to fathom, but in a 1962 game against the New York Knicks, Wilt scored a mind-boggling 100 points.


Needless to say, it set the single-game scoring record - one that still stands to this day.

It is an awe-inspiring feat that no one else has been able to match.

Just to show how out-of-reach that record is, the person who is second on the single-game scoring list is Kobe Bryant, who racked up 81 during a 2006 game.  

(And Kobe's score was assisted by the fact that 21 of his points came from 3-point range.  However, the 3-point shot didn't exist when Wilt had his 100-point game, which makes his accomplishment all the more incredible.)

In looking for a writing equivalent of this exploit, it seemed to me that cranking out 100 stories is a difficult feat that not many authors will accomplish.  Therefore, one of the goals on my road to becoming the Wilt Chamberlain of self-publishing is to write 100 books.  (At present, I'm about 10% of the way there. Go me...)

Wilt Pulled Down 55 Rebounds in a Single Game

Even before his incredible 100-point outing cited above, Wilt attained what is probably an even more impressive achievement: in 1960, he managed to corral a stunning 55 rebounds in a single game.  55!  That is completely insane!  

Personally, I find this effort to be far more remarkable than his 100-point performance and feel that - of the two - this is the record least likely to be broken. In fact, only one other person - the great Bill Russell - has manged to get more than 50 rebounds in a single game. (Russell managed to pull down 51 in a game the season before.)

Tying this feat back to writing, I'm thinking I'd like to have 55 titles achieve a #1 ranking.  (To be clear, I'm talking about ranking #1 in their categories, not overall in the Kindle Paid Store. My head would probably explode if that happened with even one of my titles.)

Wilt Has the Highest Single-Season Scoring Average and Single-Season Rebounding Average

Going back to the subject of Wilt's nigh-obscene scoring ability, it's worth noting that he holds the record for the highest single-season (1961-1962) scoring average at 50.4 points per game!  (In fact, he holds the top three spots on this particular list.)  

He also holds the record for the most points scored during a single season: 4,029 (which also occurred during the 1961-1962 season).  To put that in perspective, the only other person to reach even 3000 points was His Airness, Michael Jordan, who averaged 37.1 points per game during the 1986-1987 season.

With respect to rebounding, Wilt holds the #1 spot with an average of 27.2 per game during the 1960-1961 season. He snagged a total of 2,149 rebounds that season, which is also a record. 

If I'm being honest, I'm having trouble coming up with a writing objective that is analogous to these achievements.  However, since this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison anyway, I'll just try something novel: adding Wilt's scoring and rebounding averages together gives the following: 50.4 + 27.2 = 77.6.  Rounding that up to 78, I'll make as my goal spending a total of 78 weeks (in aggregate) on the best seller lists. (Yes, I know it's not very scientific, but work with me here...)

Wilt's All-Around Greatness

Wilt's basketball prowess didn't stop at simply scoring and rebounding (although he did win seven scoring titles and eleven rebounding titles).  There was also a season when he led the league in assists, and in terms of field goal percentage he led the NBA nine times. (Just FYI: the single-season record for field goal percentage is 72.7%, and guess who owns it?  That's right - Wilt Chamberlain.)  

If I had to come up with a writing correlation to this degree of versatility, I'd probably say it was comparable to successfully publishing in multiple genres.  Therefore, I'm going to aim for selling at least 1000 copies of my books in at least four different genres.

Wilt's Legacy

More than four decades after he played his last game as a pro, Wilt Chamberlain still holds more than 70 NBA records. Simply put, he's the best basketball player there ever was, and he completely dominated his field in almost every aspect.  That's why I want to be the Wilt Chamberlain of Self-Publishing.

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