Join the club.
I don’t throw out the following discoveries to discourage any aspiring authors, but only to inform them of what I found in the past few months.
According to some poll I found somewhere, it is believed that more than 70 percent of people wish they were authors. In a survey of my own among friends, I came to my own conclusion that this is because everyone wants to tell their own story on some level. Everyone wants to write a novel that is either literally or metaphorically about themselves.
They also want to be millionaires who work from any location they want.
It doesn’t take much looking around the internet to find aspiring authors. They are everywhere, scratching and clawing to find a way to sell books, blogs and screenplays. It isn’t hard to equate this avalanche of writers to a horde of gold miners staking their claims in search of glory and riches.
That brings me to an interesting line from a show on Netflix called Glitch. There is an old-man character who once was extremely rich and a young man asks him how he got so rich. The old man tells him it was easy. He just sold all the supplies to the gold miners who came in the gold-rush days. The old man laughs and says he made more money off those dreamers than any of them did mining for gold.
One thing I’ve found in pursuing a career as an author is that there are a lot of services out there eager to help you get published, for a fee. Barnes & Noble & Amazon, among others, offer e-book publishing platforms for free and I’ve experimented with many of these services. While they seem loaded with potential at first, it is extremely difficult to create a product that is on par with major books being published by big publishing houses, so no matter how hard I worked, my book always looked second-rate.
I found there were a lot of second-rate books being published by would-be authors and I’ve read many a blog by self-publishers indicating they only ended up selling a few copies of their books. Most claim to sell primarily to family and friends, plus a few more random customers. Imagine there were a million self-published authors and they each sold $5 worth of e-books to family and friends through Amazon; that means Amazon just made an extra $5 million for essentially doing nothing.
I’ll repeat, I don’t bring any of this up to discourage any authors. I’m a firm believer in chasing dreams and doing what you love and I think any aspiring author should pursue their career with undying fervor. There is that old saying, however, about knowing being half the battle and some of my discoveries in recent months have changed the way I view the battle, helping me to see which battles I should choose to fight in the future.
In coming blog posts, I’ll talk about what Nicholas Sparks said about the three ways to sell a book.