Comments to a reader on Kristen Lamb’s new blog post

One of my readers, Cindy, who is also a new friend, sent me an email about Kristen Lamb’s recent post (titled “Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors” ) this morning, and asked if I agree with what she had to say. Here’s the link:

I suggest you read her post.

My response to Cindy’s question is below:

Hi, Cindy. My answer has to be “Yes, I do.”  Newbie authors make mistakes; that’s how people learn. If they recognize their errors and determine to make the necessary changes in their behaviour and writing and business practices so they don’t make the same mistakes over and over, they will eventually succeed as authors. Not everyone who writes a book can take the criticism they receive and make the corrections to improve their writing so they have a marketable product; too much ego, too sensitive, or perhaps too afraid of an uncertain, confusing future.

Not everyone who writes one book will find the grit and determination to write a second or third or fourth (which IS vital to succeeding as an author).

Independent publishing IS a tough way to earn a living; you find out early on that acquiring a readership is all about marketing, and you know nothing about marketing. Being a decent writer is one thing; becoming a businessman (or woman) is something else entirely.

New authors find themselves in competition for eyes; every reader who buys one of YOUR books (should you write in the same genre as I do) puts money in YOUR pocket, not mine.

If I want some of the money going into your pocket, I have to increase the number of readers who buy my books. My job becomes one of taking readers away from other authors. Every dollar that I earn from my writing goes to paying my bills; every dollar that goes to pay MY bills is a dollar YOU don’t have to pay your bills. Competition is a lovely thing, in my opinion; it makes us better authors and better marketers.  It also discourages others who fear such things as competition.

It’s a free-for-all, Cindy. But that’s okay with me. I write because I can no longer make my way as a craftsman (goldsmith, silversmith, ornamental wood turner, furniture maker) or as a soldier, and nobody I know needs an old cowboy. So I write to earn a living, and that means my novels have to sell better than whatever  my competition puts into the marketplace. I am glad to say that most writers who try to publish their books don’t have what it takes to survive in the business. That’s their fault, and their loss.

Those last few sentences are not meant to be snarky, but fact. All too many could-be  authors give up on themselves and their goals. Not because they can’t write; they quit because they are afraid to change, reluctant to invest the time in an uncertain future, and afraid to take risks. It’s not really a matter of money any more; self-publishing today requires so very little money. It is a matter of the time authors have to invest in their writing and in acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to market themselves and their novels.

Please let me know what you think; both about Kristen’s post (be sure to leave her a comment) and about my comments to Cindy.

Happy New Year to one and all!


About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. Those words were written a few years ago. Frankly speaking, the literary well has dried up. I now live in Dunnellon, Fl, where I amworking as the caretaker on a horse farm and looking to build a workshop here on the property where I can get back to building furniture. With any luck I will be sinking piers some time early in November and hope to have the floor joists ready for flooring by the end of the month. I'll get back to you on that.
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