There are probably over a million authors out there, and each has penned a book for a different reason. Some don’t care about great financial success or even name recognition. For some it’s just a hobby, a way of staying occupied and something fun to do in their free time.
Some don’t want the money, not really, they are just looking for that name recognition. Some want to preserve family history and make it interesting for future generations. Or they think they can somehow help others who have been in similar situations. Some enjoy scaring people or making them laugh. Other people dream of writing books, spinning tales of fantasy or about of their life, but they never do it
About those million authors with books – some will never sell a single book. But they can call themselves an author because they wrote a book. Some barely get a book off the starting block and they hit outrageous fame. Others will buy their way to the top of the charts. It’s nothing new, it’s been going on for years. The playbook has changed and the way they do it has changed. Got some money to toss around? There are plenty of places to advertise and get your book selling huge quantities. Or do it the old-fashioned way, buy the book for 99 cents and that author promises to send you a $5 gift certificate to your favorite fast-food joint.
But when I look around at my favorite authors over the years, I wonder how many books they actually sold in their lifetime. Have I surpassed them? A few years ago the average ebook was lucky to sell 250 copies. I’ve seen five times that number on a single title in one month on Amazon alone. I was lucky enough to watch the sale of a single title selling at almost 2 books per minute before this past Christmas. OMG! That was a pinch me situation!
I have several titles which have sold around 50,000 copies. That’s not really huge, but in a way it is. They sold one book at a time. One here , four there, three here and another six. It counts up and soon it’s selling 1000 a month.
I’m still a lowly little goldfish in the big fish tank of authors. But those of us who are serious full-time authors, we are an elite group of people. We’ve learned to craft a book and not just tell a story. We’ve worked hard to get where we are today.
I took a break the other week from my normal edits and writing. I needed a few hours to unwind. So I scoffed up several free books. Many authors use a free book as a way to gain fans and get people reading the rest of their books, or they are totally new and want to stick their toes in the writing world to see what will happen. I picked names I didn’t know.
Luck of the draw? Maybe. There wasn’t a decent book in the bunch. Most were so poorly written that it was pitiful. I don’t think I managed to get past the twelfth page on any of them. To say I was disappointed, is an understatement. But what really bothered me more than anything was that people could publish such stuff and call themselves an author. There are no quality controls, anyone can put words into virtual paper and call it a book. But it’s that junk that makes the rest of us look bad.
The vast majority of us lowly goldfish have put in hundreds of dollars on each book just getting it ready for publication. We’ve put in our time with online classes and hands-on workshops, learning how to write. We’ve been critiqued and we’ve critiqued, we’ve been judges of contests, we’ve been members of professional writing organizations such as the RWA, we’ve attended conferences or even been the organizers behind them, and we’ve gone back to college specifically to take classes on English grammar or creative writing. We know what we are doing. We know how to spin a tale and keep the reader engaged.
One little sale at a time gains a fan. Do I dream of great success? Of course! Do I want to be a household name? Naturally! My odds of ever obtaining the fame of people such as Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts aren’t very good, but I’ll never know unless I keep trying. And so I keep working hard to bring high quality books to my readers. Word of mouth is still the best advertising.
Probably my biggest supporter is my nephew who happens to think I’m wonderful because I’m not just dreaming, I’m making it happen.