If statistics have anything to say about it, the answer is NO.
The fact is, very few people make their living as a fiction writer. The ones we hear about – the Dan Browns and James Pattersons and Stephen Kings – are such extreme outliers that we shouldn’t consider them at all. They skew our perception of the whole field. It’s weird that this phenomenon doesn’t seem to be as strong in other professional arenas. Maybe it’s because with athletes it’s easier for us to picture the physical requirements and sacrifices it would take to get there.
Take NBA basketball. I’m pretty tall, and I like to play a pick up game as much as the next guy. Statistically speaking, I have a much better chance of becoming LeBron James than James Patterson. Yet, no one catches me shooting hoops in the gym and asks when I’m going to the NBA finals. So why is it so different with writing?
J.A. Konrath likes to say that there are more NFL players than there are professional fiction writers. Think how hard it is to be become a pro football player. First off, there’s genetics. If you’re going to be an NFL player, you must have a certain body type: freakishly strong, freakishly huge, and freakishly quick. If you don’t have this, you’ll never be a successful pro player, not matter what you do. So that’s the foundation. Then you have to cash in that genetic lottery ticket at just the right time and place – get yourself into the right program, the right coach, etc. Then you have to practice your ass off.
To look at it another way: how many unique author names have been on the New York Times bestseller list (which still doesn’t guarantee they’ll be able to make a living as a writer) over the past four years? I don’t know the number, but I can assure you it’s far less than the 11,000 athletes who participated in the last Summer Olympics. And those people were genetic freaks of nature who’d spent every waking second of their lives preparing for the event. Seems pretty unlikely that I’d become an Olympic athlete in my spare time, right? So again, why should a professional fiction writer be any different?