So You want to be an author?
I can’t speak for other countries, but a New York Times article once stated that almost 81% of Americans want to write a book. But why? Is it because millions of American citizens believe they have a novel inside clawing to escape? Or, are they convinced it’s a highway to becoming respected and financially independent? Could it be they’ve been seduced by the media into thinking it’s an easy lifestyle?
I don’t have the answers as to why, but I do have some first hand experience that may interest those who are considering writing as a career, or as a hobby.
Let’s consider the possibilities of you (or me) becoming a best-selling author. I can’t quote exact percentages, but I’d suggest our chances are slightly better than that of winning a state lottery. Getting published by a traditional publisher is a difficult, time consuming job in and of itself. One well known, best selling author submitted six novels over several years before he caught the attention of a publisher. Thousands of books of every genre are submitted to publishing houses daily. Some are from very talented writers, who in the end receive the dratted “Sorry” response. My opinion is that beyond talent, one must have some kind of connection to get a book traditionally published today.
Of course, in this modern age of electronics, one can self publish. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several other on-line companies have websites created for new or struggling authors. It’s a fantastic opportunity, that I have taken advantage of myself. However, you need to understand — just because your book is published, doesn’t mean anyone will buy it. Amazon.com is currently the largest e-book publishing company in the world. It has been estimated that over a thousand books are uploaded to the Amazon Kindle Store on a daily basis. Yes, I said a thousand per day. Any book that is published to Amazon is in very heavy competition. And here’s the kicker — those readers that buy e-books expect the same quality of writing they’re used to receiving from those published by traditional means. Alright, you say. I have good grammar and punctuation skills. I’ve taken classes on literature. I have been reading my entire life, so I have a good understanding of how a story should unfold. Good for you! You have the ability to write respectably. But do you understand marketing and promotion? Because, Amazon and others give authors the platform, but they don’t market and promote books. How is an unknown author like you or me suppose to get our work found in a sea of millions of books, many written by well known authors who hog all the attention?
There’s an old cliche’ that goes something like this. “Those who can do. Those who can’t, teach.” Honestly, I’m somewhere in between those two. I’ve published four novels to Amazon and have a fifth on the way. I read the Amazon community forum religiously and continue to garner information from successful authors. Yes, I’ve sold some books. Not nearly enough, but I don’t write to make an income. I write because I’m a story teller and those stories burn to be told. Of course, I wouldn’t squawk if I made a little money on my journey. My writing skills are a never ending battle, because of the many bad habits learned in my career field of advertising. But, I continue to work on them and I can see the progress, slow as it may be.
In the days ahead, I will continue to share my thoughts and experiences. Hopefully, it will be beneficial to others as well.
Thanks for visiting,