Thursday, November 4, 2021

What Is A Writer’s Legacy?


Most writers seek several things: Fame, fortune, and legacy. After writing a lot, they may give up on the fortune part. After promoting their books, they may give up on the fame aspect. But they all hope for a legacy, that somehow their life’s experiences and messages will live beyond them. Is that possible?   

I once represented Warren Adler, a man whose name you likely don;t recognize, and whose books you may not be terribly familiar with. But he had one book out of over 50 written and published in a long career (he was over 90 when he died a few years ago) that was turned into a movie that became famous: War of the Roses.   

That movie, starring Michael  Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito, came out four decades ago. It was about a horrible divorce and what each spouse does to each other. It was a comedy and drama that many could relate to.  I don’t think anyone under 25 knows of this movie.  Maybe a few.  

But Warren, well into his 80’s when I worked with him, came to me saying he finally wanted to break through. The hit movie was not enough. He wanted a lasting legacy, where people for generations would read his novels.  

We brainstormed on all kinds of ways to promote what was his newest book then -- as well as his career and body of work. He died knowing he hadn’t achieved what he hoped to accomplish. The truth is, few could have.   

Think back to how many books you enjoyed and read as a teenager. How many of them are still read by people today? Do you love it as much now as you did then?  

Of course, some people are still reading books from the past today, just as people did a century or more ago. See Shakespeare, Twain, Dickens, or Austen. But many popular books of one generation die out at some point. And if you never achieved such notoriety while alive, what are the chances you will do so when dead, with few left to champion your work?  

Artists are the only ones who seem to have been unknown or struggling while alive, only to get “discovered” after their death.  But that’s a rare thing-  

Look at other entertainment industries.  How many films from the 1940s are watched and talked about today?  A few names and a few works may be familiar to some teens today, but few are really engaged in their music or movies the way they have been.  

My daughter, 13, and her class were asked by their teacher how many students know of I Love Lucy.  Only one out of the 21 students raised their hand -- my daughter.  Even something as great as I Love Lucy might not survive another generation, despite its timeless brilliance and ability to make anyone laugh. The show debuted 70 years ago. My parents grew up with it. Their parents enjoyed it too. My generation loved it. But now, with all of the competition, changing demographics, and new times, I Love Lucy is on its way to disappearing.  

 It seems hard to believe. But it’s true. 

Authors should write with the hope of impacting today’s world, in real time. Fantasizing about a legacy does them no good. But if you tell the right stories, readers will embrace them and they will share your book with others. Their word-of-mouth will share and define your legacy. You will live on through your words but like I Love Lucy, even the best creations will die out.  Your book may influence other writers and readers in how they create or live their lives. That would be a wonderful legacy-- until it disappears.  

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”  

-Nelson Mandela  

“Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.”


“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson  

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”


“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.”

-Elvis Presley


Contact For Help

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in helping thousands of authors in all genres.


Catch Up With These Posts

Will You Take A Writer’s Oath?


Which Social Media Platform Should Authors Use?


Authors, Why Don’t You Have A Business Card Or A Website?


Which 7 People Do Authors Need In Their Lives?


Why Are Only Some Authors Successful?


Are Poor Book Sales Preventable?


Breakthrough Marketing Tips For Authors


How Should Authors Answer The Social Media Question?


Top 100 Book PR Blog Posts


Great Book Marketing Podcast Interview With Savvy Book PR Pro Brian Feinblum


About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.