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!