Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Seems Like Everyone is Writing and No One is Reading

If course that isn't really true, but since it's now so much easier to get published than it ever has been, a lot of people who would have never even attempted to write a book have decided to write and publish on Kindle or Smashwords or some other easy way.

I suppose they all think they'll be like the few authors who are making a lot of money this way. No one can make any money though unless people buy the books.

Back in the dark ages, when I first started out, you had to have you whole book completed. In that time period there were no computers or copy machines. To make sure you had a copy of the book you were writing, the only recourse was to make a copy of each page with carbon paper.

One your book was done you sent the who thing in a box along with a cover letter, a synopsis and another Self-Addressed and Stamped box if you wanted the manuscript back--and of course you did. If the publisher didn't want it, you sure didn't want to have to type the whole daggone thing over again. Of course after about 5 rejections, the manuscript had to be retyped anyway because it smelled of cigarette smoke and probably attracted some coffee stains along the way.

Believe me, unless you were totally dedicated to wanting to be a published author, you didn't go through all this work.

Maybe it's just too easy today to put a bunch of works together and send it off to Kindle or some other similar spot and call  yourself a published author.

Oh yes, we've all heard readers complain about lame plots, undeveloped characters, stiff dialogue, lack of setting, poorly formatted and edited books filled with typos, but that doesn't seem to stop anyone. Books are being $2.99, 1.99, .99 and free. That means a lot of readers are seeking only the bargain books. Is this going to mean anything to the major publishers, who climbed on this e-publishing bandwagon late and are charging far more for their e-books?

To make this personal, I'm with small independent publishers because I don't want to learn how to format books or pay someone to do it for me. I don't want to create a book cover or the back page. My publishers have much better cover artists than I'll ever be--and both of them let me give input in what I'd like to see in a cover. And both publishers edit my books before they become public.

Yes, everyone gets their cut before I get my paltry sum. Sometimes I laugh when I receive my royalty statements--better than crying. I do far better getting my books at a discount and selling them at book and craft fairs and speaking events.

This might bring up the question if you're not making a lot of money and there's so much competition, why are you doing it? The main answer is because I can't stop writing. If no one published my work, I know I'd just keep right on going. It's rather like an addiction.

You also might ask, are you reading too? The answer is yes. I always have a book by my bed, one on the dining room table and of course, the book I'm reading on my Kindle.

Any one agree with me--or have a different take?



Steven J. Wangsness said...

Having just published my mystery/thriller TAINTED SOULS on Kindle and at Smashwords, I suppose I'm shooting myself in the foot to say I agree with you that it's too easy to self-publish. In my case it was only half two and a half years of trying to snag an agent/publisher in the face of an economic downturn and a publishing industry that's running scared.

I'd rather be between real covers in a "real" book, but this may be the wave of the future. I write because I have to write, but I'd also like people to see what I've labored over. So it was with a weird combination of feelings that I epubbed my book.

But I am certainly still reading. But not on an e-reader, since I don't own one.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Steven, have you tried any of the small presses? The do ebooks and trade paperbacks.


Patricia Gligor said...

I totally agree! Although I have a limited budget, every month, I make sure to include the purchase of at least one novel written by one of the amazing authors I've met online.
To be honest, I do it for two reasons. First, I love to read a good mystery and second, I'm hopeful that they'll return the favor and buy my book/s. I believe we need to encourage and support each other!

Morgan Mandel said...

Yes, it does seem the majority of the people I know online, at least, are writers, and don't have too much time to read.

The trick is to find the readers. I know they're hiding somewhere.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I read a lot. Since I've been reviewing books, people send them to me. Usually I have at least 2 books waiting for me, plus all those on my Kindle.


Jack Getze said...

I think too many writers try to sell their books online to other writers. We don't have much time, number one, and two, writers are mostly like every other reader -- we'd rather first read a book by an author we already love. I've seen a show of hands every year in a room full of writers on this. The last book they bought was by one of their favorites.

Terry said...

We are in a dynamic time, and trying to figure out how best to position ourselves is like lining up a pool shot during a tremor. I agree with the notion that we are writers marketing primarily to fellow writers, and as to where the readers are ... they are likely deliberating whether writing might boost their pensions a bit.

But most of us write not because we have to but because we have something to say, and we want to be heard, or read. We're not preachers or ministers or politicians or band-standing town criers ... we're people, and for the most part, we've experienced enough of life to want to share what we've learned with those who are seeking that knowledge.

Writers are readers, and readers, given easier access to print today, are more often becoming writers.

Fiction is the genre that appears to require the least amount of true study, and so looks the easiest (to the novice.) But the more crowded the genre becomes, the more selective the readers will be. And the lower the quality of writing becomes, the lower the price of everyone's writing will have to descend.

But I fear that non-fiction will find the fate of all those professional papers written in ivy-covered towers and shared only with those who reciprocate, keeping the knowledge removed from those who might benefit. That's why I took my Phi Kappa Phi columns and moved them into a self-published paperback, and ultimately to a 99 cent Kindle, where it languishes unattended yet today. If only it could be read by those who arbitrarily control educational decisions.

I know there is an analogy to the tower of Babel out there, somewhere.