I’ve often been derisively referred to as a “D List Author” by my critics. Curious, I had to look up where that list came from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-list
Sadly, as usual my critics suck at everything. This scale is based on how recognizable movie stars are, and since most regular people wouldn’t recognize any but the most famous (or funny looking) authors, it doesn’t really work for us at all. So I have created this super helpful guide so critics know what bucket to arbitrarily stick writers in.
What’s way better than fame? All fame is good for in Hollywood is determining how much they have to pay actors. So screw recognition. Show me the MONEY!
Since the super reliable Guardian newspaper reported that only the top 1% of all authors make more than $100,000 a year from writing and the average mid list author makes around $30,000 a year we’ll just have to extrapolate out from there. Since my critics like to say I’m a D Lister, and I’m doing way better than the Guardian’s 1% cut off, then I can only assume that my critics are really fucking harsh, but a metric is a metric, so here we go!
The Official Alphabetical List of Author Success
A List – High upon Mount Olympus They Gaze Down Upon the Pathetic Mortals = All the $
- Authors who are worth more than the GDP of some countries.
- Authors who build their houses out of gold bars.
- Characters from their books get their own theme parks.
- The lady who wrote Twilight.
B List – The King(s) =$$$$$$$$$$
- Authors who have TV shows about their books starring Peter Dinklage.
- Authors who sleep on large piles of money.
- Politicians who get illegal campaign contributions masquerading as advances.
- Oprah’s Book Club.
C List – The Perpetual Bestsellers =$$$$$$$$$
- Authors who play poker with Castle.
- Authors who have lesser TV shows not starring Peter Dinklage.
- Authors who always get sold in airport bookstores.
- Authors who are rich enough to have sex scandals and it actually makes the news.
D List – My Wallet Says Bad Motherfucker = $$$$$$$$
- Authors whose quarterly tax withholdings are sufficient to purchase a new Mercedes Benz.
- Authors who’ve written a shit load of books for a whole lot of years.
- The International Lord of Hate.
E List – The 1% =$$$$$$$
- Authors who make enough off their royalties to impress their mother in law.
- Authors who lucked into a decent movie deal.
- Authors who actually have long lines at book signings
- The Real Housewives.
F List – The Professionals =$$$$$$
- Authors who have good lines at book signings.
- Authors whose quarterly taxes could buy a new Hyundai.
- Authors who have worked extremely hard to hone their craft over many years.
- Authors who have consistently treated writing like their career.
G List – I’m Pretty Awesome At This Writing Thing =$$$$$$
- Authors who are super excited they got to be Guest of Honor at a convention.
- Authors who have some people come to a book signing.
- Authors whose quarterly taxes could buy a used Hyundai.
- Single authors who’ve sold enough copies they can safely use being a writer as a pick up line at bars.
H List – Holy Shit! I Quit My Day Job! =$$$$$
- Authors who are still really glad their spouse has a real job.
- Authors who think that paying quarterly taxes on their royalties is total bullshit.
- Authors who can go to their high school reunion all smug like, “Oh, you work at Autozone? Well I’m an AUTHOR bitches!”
- Authors who have made enough from royalties to impress their mom.
I List – Doggone It People Like Me =$$$$$
- Authors with the first glimmers of real professional success.
- Authors who begin contemplating how they’re going to tell their boss to shove it.
- Authors who only check their book’s Amazon rank once a day.
- Authors who pay their mortgage payments from their royalties.
J List – What the Fuck? I’m a Real Writer? =$$$$
- Authors who are still getting used to the idea people want to read their crap.
- Authors who have sold a respectable number of books.
- Authors who check their book’s Amazon rank every hour.
- Authors who start to pay most of their bills with their royalties.
K List – Welcome To Mid List =$$$$
- The average professional author with a writing career.
- Authors making enough money to be really tempted to quit their day job except their spouse won’t let them.
- Authors who are still really happy when anybody shows up to a signing.
- Authors who are still terrified that their fans will realize they’re a talentless fraud any minute now.
L List – I Think I Can. I Think I Can. I Think I Can. =$$$
- Authors who’ve sold some books.
- Authors who annoy the shit out of all their friends and families to come to their otherwise empty book signings.
- Authors who haven’t realized Amazon only updates their ranks hourly and are still checking every fifteen minutes.
M List – I AM THE KING OF THE WORLD! =$$
- Authors who’ve published a book or something.
- Authors who sit in front of their computer, compulsively hitting Refresh over and over to see their Amazon ranking like one of those perpetual motion bird toys. Peck. Peck. Peck.
- Authors who collect royalties sufficient to eat out once in a while at a restaurant. Okay, maybe Applebees, but they can’t get appetizers.
- Author on the panel who can’t help but flog their books to the trapped audience with every comment.
N List – Yeah, I’m Like Totally a Writer, Baby =$.
- Authors who’ve published a book or maybe some short stories.
- New Authors who all the other aspiring authors in their writing group secretly hate.
- Authors who collect enough royalties to eat out occasionally, but only from the Dollar Menu.
- An average Hugo or Nebula award winner.
O List – OMG! I CAN TOTALLY JOIN SFWA! =$
- Authors who don’t realize there isn’t actually any reason to join SFWA.
- Authors who haven’t made enough off their royalties to pay the dues for SFWA.
- The average voting member of SFWA.
P List – That Guy =$
- Author who has maybe sold a couple things or won some contest or something.
- Know it all author who won’t shut up on a panel about his bullshit who all the professional authors just want to throat punch.
- Doesn’t know what royalties are, but thinks any author who complains about paying taxes is inherently evil.
Q List – The College Guest Lecturer =$
- Author who sells something like a short once in a great while to a very tiny audience, so they can go be panelists at conventions in order to bore the living shit out of the poor audience while they drone on about the “rules and definitions” of genre fiction.
- Never actually sold enough books to earn back their tiny advance, but that’s okay, because writers who make money are sell outs producing bourgeoisie garbage for the masses.
- Writes pretentious blog posts warning S and U List authors that their fiction has to check the mandatory social justice boxes about nonsense like ending binary gender.
R List – The Artiste = $
- Authors who’ve written a pretentious dense piece of unsellable crap.
- Authors who write for prestigious literary journals where they can be read by literally dozens (if you count the editorial staff).
- Authors who skip right to B List if Oprah mentions them.
S List – The Struggling
- Authors who’ve written something, but haven’t had any luck selling it yet.
- Authors with the most incredibly frustrating job in the universe.
- The Future of Writing.
T List – The Troglodyte
- Struggling authors who haven’t realized they need to actually learn to write.
- When nobody likes their work proclaims “They just don’t understand my brilliance!”
- Likes to post angry reviews on the internet bashing Authors A-S.
U List – The Aspiring
- Thinking about writing something.
- Wonders where they’ll find the time?
- Don’t feel bad. We all started somewhere.
V List – Oh, You’re a Writer? I’m a Writer Too!
- Hasn’t actually written anything, but likes to tell professional authors that he’s just like them because he wrote a poem back in high school and his teacher really liked it.
- Maybe when he retires from his career, he’ll become an author.
- He’s got this amazing idea, and he’ll share it with you if you do all that actually writing the book part and then you can split the crazy huge profits 50/50.
W List – Huge On Twitter
- Author who hasn’t ever actually sold anything, but they’ve got a whole lot of Twitter followers, and they’re gonna tell you all about it.
- Author who will not hesitate to inform A-K level writers they’re doing it wrong, because if they were real writers they’d have better Twitter presence.
- Author who fails to realize that the only type of follower who counts is the one who will give you money for your product.
- Lives in their mom’s basement.
X List – The X
- Writes violent pornographic bondage fan fiction involving My Little Ponies, Voltron, and Breaking Bad on the internet, while dressed in a stained bunny costume that looks like a strange gimp version of that thing from Donnie Darko.
- Don’t make any sudden moves.
- We’re just going to walk away real slow now.
Y List – The Yama
- A primordial creature barely capable of vomiting words onto a page in a blasphemous impersonation of the act of writing, so mind shattering and terrible that a single story threatened to end language forever. He is The Thing That Should Not Be. To read his foul creations will summon the Black Goat of the Woods with its Thousand Young, and it will kill your muse and sodomize the corpse.
- Is confident that he’d be a much more successful writer than A-X, if only he wasn’t too busy stalking Asian women on the internet to actually submit any of his crayon scribbles.
- The reason sci-fi conventions have security.
Z List – The Guardian’s Village Idiot = ($)
- A kind of Anti-Author.
- Motivated by delusions of relevancy, crowd sources witch hunts against writers higher on the list.
- Collects the opposite of royalties, and actually has to be paid a strange sort of “Book Welfare” to produce a book.
Keep in mind that most of us started way down on this list and you can move up and down as your career progresses. Who knows? Tomorrow the Guardian might say you’ve irreparably damaged your career, and I’ve personally found that will bump your royalties up at least one level on the list!
So carry on, noble author, and let’s defeat that alphabet by making readers happy and selling piles of books!