Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Trouble With Writing

It's hard enough to actually get the words on paper - but after that you have to do the self promotion thing. That's when you find out that, rather than the world clamoring to read you work, you're just one of thousands upon tens of thousands of writers in exactly the same place.

Writing a book used to be the goal - that many splendorous achievement that marked you out as special. Now?

Join the queue.

Getting publishers interested in your book is - and always was I guess - a total uphill struggle. But it's getting worse.

The whole publishing industry seems set up to say 'no', before you've even had time to pitch your idea, hone your proposal or edit down your synopsis.

Publishers explain they already have a huge back catalogue of work they have yet to publish, that, really, they don't need to see your manuscript, even before they know what it's about.

But then you read that traditional publishing is on the way out anyway. Kindle apparently is taking over - and within a mere year or two the majority of books sold will be electronic.

Not sure if I believe that but even Governor Schwarzenegger has famously recently vowed to 'terminate' the written book.

There's always self publishing - but this is turning into a minefield and a nightmare combined for the average wannabe author.

There're many companies already on line whose sole aim seems to be to take your money, make you poorer and do nothing much to help you or your work.

Self publishing - I know because I do it - shouldn't cost you more than around $500 for 50 books. That's the reality. That's how much it actually costs. So why do others charge you around $5000 or $15000?

These companies use the fact that writers find it so hard to get published to fatten their wallets at your expense.

Talk about profiteering.

Need an agent?


Agents are besieged by writers' work they can't sell. Even when you get one - and we've had a few - our experience is that they find it just as hard (and sometimes harder) to get our work published as we do.

Think that having an agent gives you an edge in the publishing world?


Times ain't like that anymore.

And here again there are individuals who call themselves agents - who prey on writers desperation to be represented - and rip you blind before you can say, "Can you please read my book?"

It's enough to make you despair!

Fact is, you're most likely to sell books if you a) self publish them - by which I mean finding a cheap POD printer and doing it yourself and then b) going on a speaking tour of your local libraries and shops and physically selling your books out of the trunk of your car.

I know traditional publishers who suggest you do this this anyway - they call it a 'launch tour' - difference being they will take 90% of the cover price of your book. At least when you self publish you get to keep 50% or more.

I read an editor's blog recently that said in 2008-9, 99% of all books sold less than 200 copies each - and that includes the books sold by traditional publishers.

Makes you want to seriously reconsider your decision to be a writer, doesn't it?

But still we do it.

I write every day. I have four fiction books I want to get out there - when I'm done editing.

We have books published. Over a hundred between us - and the royalties are good but, of course, could be better.

This last couple of years our income from self published books has actually overtaken our income from publishers. This marks the dilemma we're facing.

Is it really worth hawking around the publisher's circuit anymore? After all, they can take up to a year - and sometimes longer - to reject a MS. That's way too long to make a writer wait in my view.

Far better to take the bull by the horns (don't you just hate cliches) and do it ourselves.

I think this is what the future holds for writers. We gotta do it ourselves. Build the following one reader at a time. Get ourselves out there and sell our books one at a time - and make a small profit from each one.

Take back control from an industry that is finding it increasingly hard to support us with the onslaught of new technology.

Refuse to get sucked in to those companies and individuals who prey on writer's dreams.

Make the decision.

Decide to take back control over our destinies - and let those big publishing companies know their days are numbered.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Keep writing!
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The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!