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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Truth About Publishing – 2


Lesson 1: Got expectations? Lower them

Feel free to write the most beautiful, thought-provoking words in the English language. The public will feel equally free to ignore them.
Here’s the sad truth: most people who write a book will never get it published, half the writers who are published won’t see a second book in print, and most books published are never reprinted. What’s more, half the titles in any given bookshop won’t sell a single copy there, and most published writers won’t earn anything from their book apart from the advance.
Ah, but now I can do them myself as eBooks, I hear you say, and keep all the profit. Well, yes you can, but so can everyone else. Ten years ago, the total number of titles published per year in the US, in all categories (fiction and non-fiction), was around 250,000. In 2010, according to the number of titles is estimated at 3.1 million. Nearly ten times as many titles, yet the size of the reading market isn’t changing, therefore most of those titles have to be selling approximately zilch. And in a few years time, with a frenzy of self-publishing, it could be 6 million titles, or 10 million. The arithmetic of declining sales per title is relentless.
So don’t expect anything from your writing apart from the personal fulfilment of having learned your craft and created a work that didn’t exist before. By all means hope to get published, or publish yourself if there’s no other choice, and dream of having a bestseller or even a long string of them – people do, after all. But writing talent isn’t nearly enough; thousands of people have it. 
To succeed, you have to write the best story you possibly can, for the genre you’re writing in, and be professional in every other way. It’s the writers who work hardest at every aspect of their craft, and never give up, that get there. And when you do, enjoy the adventure while it lasts, but don’t expect it to last forever. It probably won’t, because only a handful of writers have careers lasting more than a decade or two.
A rare few will ignore all this and succeed, but they’re the lottery winners. Everyone else has to work at it. Just don’t expect success or you’re bound to be disappointed. If you write books that sell, your publisher will love you. If you don’t, it’s goodbye, no matter how much your editor loves your writing.
Tomorrow's post – 
Lesson 2: Anyone can do it, ha!

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