Think of all the things authors control:
- discoverability (lists, also-boughts, etc.)
- accumulation of reviews (ARC team)
It's true that authors don't
directly control some aspects of this business. For example, we don't control when Amazon emails its customers and recommends our books. But if we get the other things right, we can increase the likelihood that Amazon will give us a boost.
In that scenario, is luck involved? Sure. Is it a necessity
for publishing success? In my opinion, no.
I studied how to succeed in this business before I published my first book. I built a platform, researched my audience, and created products that audience wanted. I continue to create products for which a measurable demand already exists.
I'm not making Amanda money, but I'm doing a lot better than an office manager in California
with fewer than 10 books.
Was luck involved? Maybe. I can
say that one of my books continues to be a huge disappointment (ranking is stuck between 80,000 and 100,000). But its failure is entirely my fault. It's the only time I went off script. I've since returned to my "system," and haven't had another failure.
I have one book that's sitting well under 3,000 (no promo, full price). It's several months old, and has managed to stick. I don't think that was lucky. I wrote to market, created an irresistible package, launched hard, and engineered the also-boughts. I also dominated my territory via AMS and created an autoresponder series that regularly promotes the book.
In other words, careful execution.
But awhile back, through no effort of my own, it received extra visibility, pushing it under 65 (no promo, full price) for awhile. Was that lucky? Yes. But was that short-term luck a corequisite of the book's longer-term success? No.
The fact is, as authors, we control the levers to our commercial success. If we fail, it's on us.
Do we sometimes get lucky? Yeah, sure. But we don't depend
on luck. Instead, we depend on our ability to leverage the factors we control, and build systems to that end.