Dear Reader, we striving, emerging authors need you.
Prompted by a recent Facebook post, I just checked one author’s listings (she happens to be self-published) at Amazon, and she has 3 books out, the highest ranked of which is #972,xxx. That means she sells about 1 copy every 2-3 months. Her other two books are even worse. So no one is reading her books.
Yet she mentioned in a recent post that her 4th book is coming soon, and she’s all excited.
I’m not sure what to make of that. Part of me wants to say, “For God’s sake, go back to your day job and stop muddying-up the market for everyone.” Yet another part of me wants to say, “Way to stick to it.”
Sadly, one has merely to sample her work to understand the first part of the problem: no editing. It is simply rife with bad structure and grammar. And the covers are… err… not good. She’s trying to make her way completely on her own, without professional help, and not making it at all.
Yet, as a fellow author, should this bother me? Does it really muddy-up the market? Will you, Dear Reader, still find what you’re looking for in the vast sea of reading options? Will my book stand out because of its polished, professional presentation? Will you, Dear Reader, find it difficult to find the gem-like drops (he says not-so-modestly) amidst the ocean of poor work?
Honestly, I’m back and forth on this, and haven’t quite decided on the right answer. Some instinct deep inside me, however, believes that if the process becomes too confusing and disappointing for readers, they’re simply going to revert to their old stand-bys and give up on discovering new authors. This, of course, would be bad news for those of us newbies who are seeking to step into that light.
Yet one surefire method remains for us to find our way out of the abyss: word of mouth. Yes, if someone reads my book, and enjoys it, she’s likely to mention it to someone else, who might then give it a try. This is a time-tested and effective method of of bringing a new author out of the darkness. The problem with that, of course, is that if the author doesn’t have a great level of visibility out there in the world, and people are slow to find him in the first place, this process can take years.
Is there a viable alternative (without spending thousands and thousands of dollars on advertising)? Probably not.
So, Dear Reader, you now understand why it is so important to all of us authors that you post a review at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or iTunes, or Kobo, or Goodreads, etc. You also know why we love you when you say to a friend, “Hey, have you read this book? It’s awesome!”
And, of course, we authors must continue to write. The author I mentioned above has that part of the equation right, if not the others. I’ve been struggling with that due to time constraints, but am determined to get my sequel out soon. For now, I’ll just have to hope that more people discover Forgive Me, Alex and feel compelled to shout from the mountaintop, “You must read this book!”.
Then, I must get The Devil’s Bane out soon.
As know, Lane, I think this is a great post and something that should be read by all writers, serious or not.
Great post, Lane. The enthusiasm of readers really makes or breaks authors. Of course, it’s up to the author to give the readers something to be enthusiastic about, and that includes a unique story, attractive cover, and polished prose.
Correct, Emlyn… on all counts.