Has Your Novel Fallen Into The “Biblio Black Hole”?
This very morning I received an e -mail from my publisher, who kindly sends me quarterly updates regarding sales of my novels and a detailed report of the royalties associated with those sales. To say it made depressing reading is rather an understatement, as now I seriously have to contemplate another career change…. I’m thinking prostitution might pay a little better.
When I set out on this journey a few years ago I did have high hopes that this rather risky career path I had taken would turn out to be a wonderful experience and would provide at least enough cash to pay for the cat food. Sadly the cat recently passed on, dying I think from malnutrition.
I read an article recently, which quoted some source or other saying that there are over 2.5 million books published each year not including textbooks! That’s a lot of literature for the average reader ‘out there’ to consume and sadly I have come to the conclusion that most of those readers are not turning to my tomes for their reading pleasure.
In fact I do honestly believe that writers now outnumber readers!
Lately I have been considering changing, by way of deed poll, my surname to something that has a bit more punch or pizazz to it. Hemingway, Grisham, Patterson springs to mind, something readers reach for when browsing the shelves of the ever-dwindling array of bookstores. Hopefully these unsuspecting readers will have forked over their hard earned cash before discovering that I am not the ‘real deal’ so to speak.
I pour over my recent novels and wonder why they simply don’t fly off the shelves? Even after posting the two glowing reviews by my daughters I naively believed that they would do the trick. (Actually, I wrote them myself and submitted them to Amazon on their behalf, as really their reaction to my first novel was fairly lukewarm.)
Publishers these days are a little gun shy when it comes to investing in an unknown author, as are literary agents who no doubt are swamped with requests and never get around to replying to carefully crafted letters designed to impress
While procrastinating the other day I did a few calculations as to the income, once a novel is released, an author can expect. For a return on an investment, working in a sweatshop in Bangladesh looks a lot more lucrative.
Unless you are a ‘formula writer ‘ it takes on average six to eight months to write a tome of say 150,000 words. The edit might swallow up another four months, the production, book cover design and layout will conservatively eat up another two months and then allow about six weeks to get an ISBN number and be listed on the giant sites i.e. Amazon, i Books and the like.
The author (unless he or she has received a small stipend from the publisher) will in essence work for free for up to ten hours a day for over a year. Once parents, friends and other family members have bought a copy you just might receive a royalty cheque after approximately three months.
Now to the depressing part: add up the amount, calculate the time spent between typing the first word and receipt of that first cheque and you will discover that you have been working for approximately eight cents a day!! Working in Bangladesh starts to become ever more appealing.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule. The brilliant, J.K.Roling for example trudged her manuscripts around numerous publishers for years before getting accepted and when she was, was promptly embraced by millions of young adult readers across the planet. Her salary increased from the mandatory eight cents a day to rival that of the Queen of England. (She deserves every penny; JK Rowling that is!)
Fifty Shades of Grey was a book that tapped into the psyche of every 30 plus woman’s fantasy and sold an astonishing eighty million copies in its first year! Bravo to the author even though the plot line, the characters and the entire premise was sadly lacking in, …well anything really. Then again who am I to judge as obviously eighty million readers can’t be wrong …or can they?
Last year I released an anthology of short stories in the belief that readers are too time- poor to plough through an entire novel and so my thinking was to make it easy by writing fifteen stories that are a bite -sized read.
This seemed to work as I did indeed receive a number of royalty cheques over the ensuing months but sadly they arrived too late to save the cat!
This post is actually a cunningly disguised piece at some rather devious self -promotion as my next novel; " Asset "will be released in December 2017.( Thats if procrastination and sloth don't get in the way) If you do pass the title while trawling that lone bookstore in your city or come across it while browsing the Internet why not give it a whirl.
Please do, as quite honestly the heat in this garment factory in Bangladesh is becoming rather oppressive and I would love to resign and become a writer!
Paul v Walters is the best selling author of five novels and when not cocooned in sloth and procrastination scribbles for several international travel and vox pop journals.