I was watching the CBS broadcast Sunday Morning a few weeks ago. They were discussing Pharrell Williams and his new hit song Happy. The conversation was how he had actually released the song with the movie Despicable Me 2 in July of 2013. Now, almost a year later, it is finally making its way onto the radio. What’s funny is I hadn’t heard this song until about three weeks ago. Now I’m hearing it almost every day. The broadcast said it has actually gone number 1 in multiple countries and they contributed it to the music video he recently created.
This got me to thinking about the
publishing world. I know a lot of independently published authors who claim
success stories on novels they published ten years prior. This would never
happen in traditional publishing houses for the mere fact that the book would
have been abandoned a long time ago. However, I do remember an English teacher
saying Charles Dickens was not held to such high esteem while he was around to
enjoy his following.
The question becomes, how does something
go from being a dud to being a trendy success? I think the first ingredient is
someone who believes in the work. The scariest thing I ever heard was that
Harry Potter almost wasn’t published. In fact, the publisher didn’t want to
print it until his little daughter begged him to. Someone obviously believed in
Pharrell’s song if they put out a music video months after it didn’t take off
in a movie. Most of the time, the person who has to believe in the work is the
author. I keep reading and hearing this point recently. That seems scary since
I’m so critical of my work, but I get their point.
The second ingredient is patience. With
more and more technology emerging, we are becoming a “right now” society. We
want to see immediate results. I am an impatient person, so this really appeals
to my nature, but there is a reason why they say “patience is a virtue.” Some
things just have to grow. It takes time, especially in books, for things to
catch on. People have to read a book. They have to tell their friends. Those
friends have to read the book. So on and so forth. I once read that a
traditional publisher takes a book out of print in less than 2 years. That’s
scary to me. Authors need time to work, especially when technology has made it
easier for everyone to speak.
Lastly, I think the timing is key.
Pharrell contributes the lack of attention for his song in Despicable Me 2 because
it was unlike most songs out at the time. I know I have heard this idea of
timing before, another reason why waiting may be important. What interests me
is that for whatever reason Pharrell wasn’t noticed in a movie that hit pretty
big, but he was noticed in a music video, which many say is obsolete. Maybe the
video hit more to his market. I think we can all learn from his story. Don’t be