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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So. I was merrily doomscrolling on Twitter when I came across the following article Publishers Weekly tweeted: https://writingcooperative.com/why-no-one-will-read-your-book-caa0e77ed5aa

Warning: it's pretty long. I just wanted to hear what you guys thought of this article, particularly because when I hit the section "self publishing is not the answer," I felt the slowly growing annoyance with the article's tone start to reach a peak. I suppose maybe the intent is to "help" the people reading the article understand that the publishing industry makes it sound like there are millions of us making bank on books and it's actually a really small number, but I think the manner in which they presented the section about self-publishing is...not great. It paints in extremely broad strokes about it and maybe it's just me, but it struck me as rather snobby.

I suppose maybe it's my idea of how one measures "success" in the self publishing game. Sure, those of us who make six figures or more are a tiny percentage, but based on my years of being on KBoards, I know lots of you make enough money to sustain yourselves, and I don't think that's reflected or represented in this article. It feels awful skewed to me. I mean, I don't make squat off my books, but that's because I'm broke and can't dump thousands of dollars into marketing them to make them more visible, and also, I didn't get into this business to make money. I'm just a dork who loves telling stories, so while my numbers are nothing significant, I am still pleased that I'm nobody who has had a handful of successes regardless.

Thoughts?
 

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I mean, they come off as a little melodramatic.  It sounds like someone who went into self publishing assuming that their book would be the bees-knees and everyone would want it.  She didn't seem to say what she put into her book.  How long was it out there?  Did she try to do anything to gain visibility?  Did she just see not many sales after a two weeks and say, this is a bust?  It's hard to know what her perspective is because she's mostly just quoting other people.  So, when this writer says, "no one will buy your book" I have no idea where she is coming from.

I was listening to an interview with a great musician from Zimbabwe the other day and he was saying that it took him 7 years just to get his music across a border and into another country.  That's essentially 7 years where he just kept doing what he was doing without seeing any real world results.  So, I think about that when I see stuff like, "I tried this and no one will buy your book".  Like, how hard did you actually try?  Did you write more books and try to be the best you can be?  Or did you just say, this can't be how it works because it didn't work right away?

Maybe I'm skeptical because the writer here seems to not give much advice on what to do, just what not to do.  Just a paragraph at the end that says, try trad, isn't really super helpful.  Heh, I don't know, the whole thing sounds like it was written by someone who was having a rough day.  I feel a little bad for them, but it's not going to change my game one bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
NikOK said:
I mean, they come off as a little melodramatic. It sounds like someone who went into self publishing assuming that their book would be the bees-knees and everyone would want it. She didn't seem to say what she put into her book. How long was it out there? Did she try to do anything to gain visibility? Did she just see not many sales after a two weeks and say, this is a bust? It's hard to know what her perspective is because she's mostly just quoting other people. So, when this writer says, "no one will buy your book" I have no idea where she is coming from.

I was listening to an interview with a great musician from Zimbabwe the other day and he was saying that it took him 7 years just to get his music across a border and into another country. That's essentially 7 years where he just kept doing what he was doing without seeing any real world results. So, I think about that when I see stuff like, "I tried this and no one will buy your book". Like, how hard did you actually try? Did you write more books and try to be the best you can be? Or did you just say, this can't be how it works because it didn't work right away?

Maybe I'm skeptical because the writer here seems to not give much advice on what to do, just what not to do. Just a paragraph at the end that says, try trad, isn't really super helpful. Heh, I don't know, the whole thing sounds like it was written by someone who was having a rough day. I feel a little bad for them, but it's not going to change my game one bit.
Okay, so it's not just me? It did sound like it was a defeatist sort of attitude. I've seen different articles about what not to do in the publishing industry and so they would usually balance what not to do with "here's what you should do instead." This article doesn't seem to have much of that going on. And yes, what's this person's measurement of success? It's relative. People's ideas of a successful writing career wildly vary, so it almost sounds like "if you're not a national bestseller, your book's not successful."
 

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Sounds like she's trying to defer the misconception that when someone publishes a book (traditional or non-traditional), don't expect the ULTIMATE SUCESS! And not to dream that your book will be seen and read by all.

She went through a lot of quotes and statistics to explain why she believes what she believes. And what she's stating is quite right! One should not go into this arena expecting to be the most famous gladiator in history. However, there's a path that she doesn't mention, and that's why this article seems so harsh and comes across as someone who has gone through a lot of frustration...which she has.

It is frustrating, if you haven't done your own research on what to expect after writing your book and putting it up on the market. But, that's the main point. Don't jump into something without research. I also agree with NikOK:
Did she try to do anything to gain visibility? ...Like, how hard did you actually try?
For me, I know I haven't done any type of marketing, so I don't expect much of anything. So, for one, be honest with oneself. And two. NEVER say NEVER to ANYONE. Because... you just Never know.
 

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I actually thought it was a pretty balanced article.  Thanks for sharing it.

We in the indie world like to think that self-publishing is the answer.  But all it's ever done is to move the goal posts.  Used to be that trad publishing's agents and editors were the gatekeepers.  "Getting published" was the big hurdle.  Now, anyone can publish anything.  The hurdle is getting anyone to know about it. 

And when the whole damn slush pile gets published, I'm not sure those who like to read good stories have much benefited.

Making a good living at "being a writer" has always lived in the realm of fantasy for most.  It still does.




 

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kyokominamino said:
Okay, so it's not just me?
Ha, definitely not just you. If we had more info here it could completely change the picture the article paints. This might be somebody who has done anything and everything and it just didn't work out. Then her advice and perspective would seem much more justified. But we don't know.
 

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I agree with a lot of this article. I know when I first published I was wondering why I couldn't sell my book right at the bat. People just don't know how hard it is out there. It is not a get rich scheme.

But the title could do with some adjusting. Like "Few will ever pay for your book." But then you might not have read the article, would you? I've had plenty of people read my books. And I continue to enjoy a complementary coffee while I write the next one. Anyway, these articles are very good in decreasing the competition.

edited for clarity}
 

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Just read the article up through the self-pub section and the only glaring issue I had with it was her estimate of a hard cover list price of $15. In my genres that's more like $28.

I also don't think from what I read that she's self-published at all.

Was the guy she interviewed for the self-pub section Data Guy? I never did know his real name.
 

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It often takes years to become an overnight success.

One book does not a career make. Do aspiring actors get a part in one movie or TV show and expect it all to come their way? Do musicians put out one single and expect to sell a million?

Actors act. Musicians play. Writers write, and keep writing, until they give up or something happens. That something can range from modest sales and local recognition, up to stardom for those with the luck to catch fire. I don't say skill because skill is not the big determinant of success. It's (first and foremost) persistence, plus luck, with the caveat of a certain at-least-average level of skill and writing quality, plus luck, plus serendipity, plus timing, plus luck, plus persistence. And more persistence.

Using the music industry as an analogy, there are millions of skilled musicians, but only thousands making a living from their music, and perhaps only hundreds of real "rock stars" (regardless of musical genre) at any one time. And some of those stars aren't really all that good, musically. They simply catch on and get popular (lucky).

But most won't.
 

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I found the article was a lot of sour grapes.

The writer measures success in dollars and cents and popularity.

Writing a novel is an important first step but, you have to market it and work your butt off and not complain you are not a millionaire yet.

There are wannabe authors out there who adopt a scorched earth approach and take pleasure in discouraging other authors.

Mark
 

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The disdain is evident.

There's an often overlooked subset of people for whom the self-publishing revolution is liberating -- hobbyists. Not long ago, people like me who piddle with writing in our spare time might have found it necessary to fork out far too much money for way too many copies of a vanity project to sell at the local indie bookstore and gift to friends & family. Some of us don't dream of writing careers that garner us fame and fortune. We simply find the process a wonderful release and enjoy, every now and then, sharing the finished product.
 

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Writer exist, marketers exist, writer/publishers exist. Each one take a different skillset. Most often, training makes one a success or a failure in the Indie world today. I also suspect that's the world of the future as we get more and more technical in our adult lives, and earlier in our youth.

At age fourteen, my son could run circles around me in the technology of phones, games, video programming, etc.  That head start in an ever evolving tech world would make any teen today miles ahead of many adults in any business, especially and including the Indie world. 

When Amz birthed the idea that anyone can publish, it was a bit easier than today and mostly due to less competition on the websites. Now, it takes a tech guru AND a good writer to succeed. If you don't put in the time to train yourself, no one else will do it for you, unless you pay for it. A generation of trained sub-category professionals emerged from that initial launch, and who could have predicted that?  And all the technical help in the world will not help writers that feel 'writer training' is irrelevant to success.
 

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It's funny. I assumed this was a similar article I read a few years ago. I think, every few months, someone writes an article about how difficult it is to make a living publishing.

The article isn't wrong. It may be a bit pessimistic, but I thinkt hat's necessary given how many people are telling authors they can make a fortune if they believe in themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Jeff Hughes said:
I actually thought it was a pretty balanced article. Thanks for sharing it.

We in the indie world like to think that self-publishing is the answer. But all it's ever done is to move the goal posts. Used to be that trad publishing's agents and editors were the gatekeepers. "Getting published" was the big hurdle. Now, anyone can publish anything. The hurdle is getting anyone to know about it.

And when the whole damn slush pile gets published, I'm not sure those who like to read good stories have much benefited.

Making a good living at "being a writer" has always lived in the realm of fantasy for most. It still does.
I didn't disagree with all her points; it just felt like the summary of self publishing wasn't a fair representation given that you can certainly make SOME money and sell SOME books. I think in the end maybe it's the article title? Someone will read your book--it just might not be a million people. Even the worst of the worst trash on Amazon gets read by someone. I think targeting the article's title to be more about being a NYT or USA Today bestseller would have helped. Glad you enjoyed reading it, though. I think it is a good warning for the newbies and the unpublished, but it just could've done better representing certain aspects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
alhawke said:
I agree with a lot of this article. I know when I first published I was wondering why I couldn't sell my book right at the bat. People just don't know how hard it is out there. It is not a get rich scheme.

But the title could do with some adjusting. Like "Few will ever pay for your book." But then you might not have read the article, would you? I've had plenty of people read my books. And I continue to enjoy a complementary coffee while I write the next one. Anyway, these articles are very good in decreasing the competition.

edited for clarity}
Yep, that was my thought. It probably needed to be about you're never gonna be an NYT bestseller, not "no one will read your book."
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
David VanDyke said:
It often takes years to become an overnight success.

One book does not a career make. Do aspiring actors get a part in one movie or TV show and expect it all to come their way? Do musicians put out one single and expect to sell a million?

Actors act. Musicians play. Writers write, and keep writing, until they give up or something happens. That something can range from modest sales and local recognition, up to stardom for those with the luck to catch fire. I don't say skill because skill is not the big determinant of success. It's (first and foremost) persistence, plus luck, with the caveat of a certain at-least-average level of skill and writing quality, plus luck, plus serendipity, plus timing, plus luck, plus persistence. And more persistence.

Using the music industry as an analogy, there are millions of skilled musicians, but only thousands making a living from their music, and perhaps only hundreds of real "rock stars" (regardless of musical genre) at any one time. And some of those stars aren't really all that good, musically. They simply catch on and get popular (lucky).

But most won't.
Oh boy, are you right. I heard from a few KBoards authors that sometimes you start to catch a break around 8+ books. Here I am at nine and yet I've smacked into a wall face-first. But the good news for me is I didn't get into it for the money, so that's alright. Some people have read and loved my work, and really, that's the end goal. I never expected to feed myself with royalties; only wanted to share stories with folks. One thing I did like that was noted in the article--and something that is definitely true for the entertainment world at large--is that it's definitely a pedestal built for the people already at the top to STAY on top. Naturally, there's some one hit wonder bestsellers who never go on to do anything else and just live off those royalties, but in general, the NYT is stuffed with the same old crowd and it's probably not going to shift much unless there's a major world shaking change in the way the industry works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
markpauloleksiw said:
I found the article was a lot of sour grapes.

The writer measures success in dollars and cents and popularity.

Writing a novel is an important first step but, you have to market it and work your butt off and not complain you are not a millionaire yet.

There are wannabe authors out there who adopt a scorched earth approach and take pleasure in discouraging other authors.

Mark
I was also getting a sour grapes vibe too. I just, uh, wasn't sure if it was just me. xD
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mark Feggeler said:
The disdain is evident.

There's an often overlooked subset of people for whom the self-publishing revolution is liberating -- hobbyists. Not long ago, people like me who piddle with writing in our spare time might have found it necessary to fork out far too much money for way too many copies of a vanity project to sell at the local indie bookstore and gift to friends & family. Some of us don't dream of writing careers that garner us fame and fortune. We simply find the process a wonderful release and enjoy, every now and then, sharing the finished product.
Oh, absolutely. That's my favorite thing about self publishing, personally. Some people who just want to share something they love and are excited about in writing are able to get it out without being forced to jump through three million hoops. Sure, there's ton of trash, but man, there's lots of great content that would never have seen the light of day otherwise given how literary agents still are accepting so few clients a year. Good point!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Crystal_ said:
It's funny. I assumed this was a similar article I read a few years ago. I think, every few months, someone writes an article about how difficult it is to make a living publishing.

The article isn't wrong. It may be a bit pessimistic, but I thinkt hat's necessary given how many people are telling authors they can make a fortune if they believe in themselves.
That's kinda how I am trying to take it--a warning to newbies to not think they're gonna hit the ground running and be an instant millionaire. It just has a tone that I find a bit like sour grapes because I do this for a living and while it sucks being a pauper, people HAVE read my book. I think the title of the article should just be tweaked and the article could focus more on "you're never going to be an NYT bestseller" rather than "no one will read your book."
 

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I think authors would be better served if the article said something more like, "You'll probably never be a NYT bestseller." Authors DO make it, whether that's making $50K a year or six figures. Reading stuff like this article very nearly discouraged me from publishing at all. It's just not true that there's no chance. Don't believe it.
 
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