In the game of baseball, multiple skills are necessary. Most players are known for one or two specific key talents, say hitting or fielding. But if a player can hit for average, hit for power, run fast, and catch and throw skillfully, they are known as “five-tool players.”
One might consider a similar dynamic for authors. Some are better at one element of writing and maybe not others. What would qualify an author as a “five-tool author?”
First there must be the idea, or the inspiration. Whether fiction or non-fiction, there must be a story to be told, the initial creative phase. Then the story, memoir, history, or whatever genre must be polished to readable sentences and paragraphs, all presented in a narrative that is rewarding to a reader.
Then comes the obvious baseball reference; the author needs to know how to “pitch.” The author must be skillful in print or spoken word in giving a concise and appealing description of the writing to a potential reader.
At all steps of development for an author, it is important to connect to other authors, to publishers, editors, critics, and a multitude of others who can both influence and spread the word about the writing. Several years ago, the North Carolina Writers Network proposed the following theme: “No one writes alone.”
Finally, an author must be media savvy. “Book tour” once meant the author driving from place to place with a trunk full of books, hoping that interest would evolve. Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and more) plus Soundcloud and YouTube…I could go on.
A five-tool author must be able to create, polish, pitch, connect to people, and master the “matrix.” Perhaps then, the “hall of fame” may come calling. Hey, a boy can dream.
I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.