It’s a damned good question – why indeed?
Writing is a thankless task. To begin with it helps if you have masochistic tendencies. Without a doubt it has to be one of the most disheartening things to engage yourself in these days. Right from the start everything is stacked against you. From the assortment of literary critics, conventional publishing’s gatekeepers and literary agents, not forgetting the trolls, all of them only too happy to trash the product of all your hard work – which is why so many of us prefer to self-publish. But even going down that route has its drawbacks. Then there is the fact that unfortunately we’re living in an era when the majority of the population these days struggle to read anything longer than a tweet. Before you start screaming at me, yes I can hear your hackles rising from here over that last sentence. But whether you like it or not its a fact! How many of you will actually bother to read the rest of this post – maybe a half dozen?
These days authors whose books are read in large numbers (over two hundred thousand) are few and far between – fact!!
Until someone actually dares to tell us to stop writing, not that we’ll take any notice, because we’re masochistic remember; we will persist because we love the written word and what we do. The fact that the product of all our hard work will be lucky if maybe half a dozen copies are bought, no matter how aggressive the marketing, before it rapidly disappears from the public view into the slush pile, particularly on Amazon, is something else to consider.
These days the only way to shift numbers of your latest work is to endlessly give them away. Does that guarantee sales? No! Does it mean that the free copies will be read, let alone reviewed? No!
Even going to the trouble to give the public the chance to sample your book(s), by giving them the opportunity to read the first few chapters using Free Book Preview on Kindle, does not mean that they will bother. I offer this service from time to time on my Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Facebook pages. But like I said earlier, anything longer that a tweet won’t necessarily be read.
I stated the following on my Facebook page the other day – “Now that ‘Race Against Time’ is out there, I’m back reading through both ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ and ‘Magicians of the Gods’ by Graham Hancock, looking for the subject for my next novel, having abandoned the idea of writing about my favourite sixteenth century artist, and all round bad boy, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Plus I’m reading a chapter per day of Marje Mallon’s book for young adults – The Curse of Time…
So I have a hell of a lot of reading to do over the next few months while the rest of you are texting each other, taking selfies, or playing games on your Smart Phones, anything but actually reading a book!!!
When you read this article, you will soon realise that its author was in a rush to get it into print. He tends to wander all over the place, seemingly contradicting himself at times. Even so, his basic premise holds true. For most of us, writing is a job, even if it doesn’t pay well…
Here is the second UK 5 Star review:
By Adele Park on 22 Sept. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a rollercoaster of a read. From the start, we know something is going to go horribly wrong and from then on we are hanging on to the coat-tails of the characters. It really is a race against time and I held my breath as they slipped past their adversaries by the skin of their teeth.
The writing is fast paced and yet in a few sentences the author describes perfectly the country or area they are in. I cared about all the characters that we were introduced to and hated the evil ones. Fantastic read highly recommended. Don’t just take my word for it, buy a copy for yourselves you will not be disappointed.
A few days ago I met a couple of Labradors – one black, the other golden. Being the friendly dogs that they are, they greeted me in time-honoured Labrador fashion by licking my face, which brought back fond memories and was all the incentive I needed to write this post about my dear old friend Blackie.
When I left the New Zealand Navy back in 1967 and became a civilian once again, I worked for two years as a postman before becoming a mail sorter for a while in the mailroom at Hamilton GPO. Eventually I went back to sea as a merchant seaman for several years. But that’s a story for another time.
I can’t exactly remember when it was, but I decided I needed a pal to take with me on my frequent trips into the bush to get away from civilisation. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was suffering from all the early signs of post traumatic stress disorder. A lasting legacy of war for many ex-servicemen, not just my generation…
So I went to the nearest pet store and soon arrived back home with a wriggling bundle in my arms, and my face licked clean. At the time he was four months old. Like all pups sold in pet stores, he was full of worms. Once he had been dosed he was fine. It took another six months for his body to catch up with his paws which were already full size.
Blackie was the jet black boisterous canine version of a dizzy blonde. A bag of nails has more intelligence than he ever did, bless him. He was the only water dog I have ever come across that hated getting wet. I took him to the beach once. When I let him out of the car he began by chasing all the seagulls he could find, until they ganged up on him. He spent the rest of the couple of hours we were there trying to bite wavelets, swallowing foamy seawater in the process.
Back at home, where he spent all of his time while I was at work, he never once left my mum’s side. When he needed to go into the garden to answer the call of nature, mum always had to go with him simply because he had become extremely wary of the neighbourhood cats whenever they turned up mob-handed. Mum said that they knew when he needed to go out, and used to line themselves up on the top of the garden fence, constantly growling and hissing at him. For some reason known only to felines they didn’t appreciate being chased up trees by a four legged jet black juvenile delinquent who just wanted to play…
When mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the larynx, like a lot of dogs, Blackie knew somehow. He used to make a point of sniffing and licking her throat trying to make her better.
Whenever she baked, his eyes followed her every move. On more than one occasion whole trays of hot scones vanished behind her back whenever she put them on a bench to cool. I was home one day when she was in the process of making a fresh batch. I suggested that she place one tray in the middle of the kitchen table and cover it with a tea towel. We then went into the sitting room to wait on either side of the connecting door.
Sure enough within a couple of minutes of us leaving the kitchen Blackie began working his way closer and closer towards the table. We both had to stifle our laughter as we watched him peer over the top of the table. His nose was twitching like mad as he was driven to distraction by the delicious smell. The amount of slobber on the table and floor was growing fast. With one last look in our direction he raised himself up and reached across the table to get a grip on the tea towel with his teeth. Slowly but surely he pulled the entire tray closer to him before pushing his head under the tea towel to extract a scone. At that point both mum and I quietly came back into the kitchen behind him. Have you ever seen a guilty look on a dog’s face? His was absolutely priceless.
When mum finally passed away a couple of months later both Blackie and I were devastated on the day of her funeral. I cried my heart out and Blackie howled incessantly. A week later Dad was told by our landlord that we had to move. All landlords back in New Zealand then were not keen on dogs living inside a house. So Blackie had to go. I couldn’t do it. Could you? Dad got rid of him, something I never forgave him for to his dying day.
A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about Blackie, even though it was forty-seven years ago now. What I don’t miss about him are my legs going numb from him lying across them on the bed. Or his silent but deadly farts which he always accused me of in that way all dogs do after they have fluffed, when he turned to look at me in disgust before moving away from the smell.
R.I.P old mate…
There is an old saying – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The same applies when it comes to asking people to read your books, especially here in the UK where e-books still take a back seat to their paperback and hard cover cousins.
The one thing you can never do is force someone to read your book. All you can hope for is to make them aware of its existence by using all of the social media sites as well as word of mouth and emails to advertise its existence. Why is that? Because the numbers currently waiting to be read is quite literally in the millions. So, don’t be too surprised if after all your hard work writing it, plus spending money having it edited and marketed, that apart from the few taken for free on promotions by the growing number of tightwads who begrudge paying money for a book, that any and all interest in it will dramatically fall, often within a single twenty-four hour day once the promotion is over.
Don’t be tempted to beg potential readers to read your book with ‘buy my book’ pleas, or for that matter to bombard every book site you can think of on a daily basis with your titles. Both practices only highlight how unprofessional you are!!! All it does is turn people off, especially on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Unless your name is Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown or Stephen King etc,etc, like todays painters we have to have another source of income while we’re alive. When a painter dies, normally their works increase in value. In our case, our publishers continue to make money. In both cases neither the former writer or painter benefits.
So do you still want to write? If your answer is yes, be prepared for a hell of a lot of hard work for little gain, let alone recognition.
One thing you must do is maintain a high profile on social media at all times. The other thing I would also advise you to do is to operate a blog like this one. Don’t just talk about all things writing as so many tend to do. Your potential reading public want to know about you, what makes you tick. Your likes and dislikes. But don’t bore them to death…
During your writing career you can expect a hell of a lot of criticism, not only by the reading public, but also by some of your fellow writers, who think they know far better than you how to write your story. TAKE IT FROM ME – THEY DON’T! If you want my advice – grow a thick skin. Turn the other cheek and never stop writing.