Writers & authors: there is hope
Writing is lonely and bad for your back, but it’s also a thrilling adventure of self-discovery and a potential money spinner. Those who feel driven to write will write regardless of what anyone says – but many a desk drawer is full of manuscripts that never see the light of day. Furthermore, writing can be a very slow process if most of the time is spent staring out of the window waiting for inspiration to strike.
Getting published via the traditional route of agent – publisher is extremely difficult in modern times. In the current market the quality of the writing is secondary to its sales potential, because agents and publishers are after all businesspeople who want to make a profit, rather than literary critics or writing mentors. This means that to be published in the traditional way, the author either needs some kind of celebrity outside of writing, or just be exceptionally good, preferably with a string of literary prizes or major publishing credits already behind them. Modern bestsellers are things like cookery books by TV chefs, celebrity memoirs, crime novels by big-name authors, self-help books, and titillating junk like Fifty Shades of Grey.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for aspiring writers. There’s a booming self-publishing sector where an author can publish a book online in Kindle or another electronic format, and start selling their writing immediately. They just have to write something that will engage and interest people and do their own marketing (traditional publishers don’t do nearly enough marketing anyway, so often an author is actually better off taking the self-publishing route rather than spending their time acquiring hundreds of rejection letters from agents and publishers.)
But authors need a few smarts before embarking on the self-publishing route. Firstly, they need to create the kind of material that actually has a chance of being consumed by paying readers. Poetry, holiday memoirs, local history, and experimental literature will not sell unless they have a special hook that makes them irresistible. Readers are flooded with writing that might be very good but which simply lacks a strong hook to get them interested in the first place.
Secondly, self-publishing authors need to learn to write quickly. If the book’s premise is strong enough and it is sellable, the quality of the writing need only be good enough to convey the message. It is not necessary to write brilliant prose (though if it comes easily and quickly, then why not?). A self-published book is not a text that will be studied by academics and picked apart on college literature courses. The playing field here is completely different, and to compete a self-published book must be snappy, catchy and well written but not over-written.
Thirdly, a self-published author must be able to go out and market their books, using all the tricks available to them. Without a publisher’s marketing department behind them, the must be smart and persistent if they want to achieve good sales.
It is wise for self-publishing scribes to learn as much as they can about the industry and gain some skills that will get their books sold. This can be done by googling, or in structured courses like write4ever.com’s Six Simple Steps to Successful Self-Publishing and Write a Quality Book In Just 90 Days.
Despite the tough traditional publishing market, there are many ways to dust off that manuscript and get it out into the hands of avid readers. Thanks to the internet, and with a lot of persistence and determination, writers can reach their audiences more quickly than ever before.