Print on demand publishers and publish on demand printers. Co-op publishing ventures. Ebook publishers and self-published ebooks. BookSurge and Lulu. Content providers for websites, personal websites. In this brave new world of publication, there is a way for anyone and everyone who has strung words together to be published.
What is lacking is readers. In fact, I would be willing to bet that many writers read less than one or two books a year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there are more writers than readers. Whether we like it or not, reading is considered to be entertainment, and the money spent on movies, music, games means less money for books.
The traditional publishing industry is answering this trend by promoting authors rather than titles. If your book is one of a series, you have a much greater chance of being published than those of us who prefer starting with a whole new set of characters for each novel. The publishing industry is also continuing their move toward more blockbuster novels, which stands to reason. It is cheaper to promote a single author than several. They still do publish books from new authors, but it is harder for you as a new author to attract the attention of a publisher, and if by chance you do attract their attention, for the most part they leave you to sink or swim on your own. This could be why so many people are publishing their own books. If you have to do your own promoting, why not reap all the rewards?
The sad truth is that while the self-publishing business is growing, the money earned by most individuals barely counts as an allowance. On average, a self-published book sells between four hundred and five hundred copies, which means that a few people who are good at self-promotion will sell a lot, while everyone else will only sell a few.
The only sane way to deal with this insane situation is to write for ourselves, but many of us feel the same way as John Cheever, who said, “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”
The next best thing is to write a fabulous novel that is so entertaining and well-written that any reader who sees it will immediately fall in love with it and spread the word.
It could happen.