The advent of free, or minimal cost, ‘self-publishing’ services, just a few years ago, was exciting. Budding authors who had previously been frustrated by the intransigence of traditional publishers, now had free-reign. Many jumped upon the wagon with expectations of finding immediate success. Of course, everyone now appreciates the naivety of that. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied the availability of free, easy to use, publishing services was a positive in an otherwise very constricted marketplace. It must also be accepted, this sudden provision resulted in a surge of books that have inundated the market, with very mixed results (there are some very good but also some very poor publications).
Independent, self-publishing, authors generally have little in the way of resources and consequently have to undertake their own publicity and marketing. The truth is, if they wish to get knowledge of their book(s) existence out to potential readers, they have to work very hard. This is not helped by the fact, literally thousands of books are added to the market each day. No sooner does a book get shown as a new publication on a retailer’s site, than it is pushed down the list by further publications. This can be very disheartening.
There has also been a change of attitude. In the initial, formative, years, authors were generally open to freely helping each other by sharing their knowledge, experiences and insights. Many, who would have otherwise been completely lost, were thereby able to get to grips with publishing mechanisms, social media, and other publicity and marketing tactics. Regrettably, in more recent years, it seems many have developed a self-interest that borders upon rampant selfishness and meanness. For example: It used to be possible to have conversations through social media by means of which authors not only got to know each other but were also able to help their fellows. Now, a majority of posts primarily constitute adverts for books or services. Of course, this is not always the case but the trend is certainly in ascendance.
Unfortunately, the change in attitude has meant, for those who still try to follow the sensible, considerate, and courteous format, the few promotional posts they publish get buried among the drivel. It can be very disappointing and has resulted in some authors abandoning their hopes and aspirations: Very sad. But, should authors give up? Certainly NOT! Doing so not only deprives them but also robs posterity. Whether successful or not within the author’s lifespan all books contribute to societies vast historic library. In one incident the writer of this post heard about, someone’s grandmother published a book that found no success during her lifetime. Then, fairly recently, and for no apparent reason, it started selling well. It is a shame the grandmother did not see this but at least her decedents can be proud of her achievement and presumably benefit from the unexpected royalties. It should also not be forgotten readers are obviously finding pleasure in their read.
There is also the well know fact, many authors who are now recognised and envied for their success, originally met with rejection and failure. Some examples:
- J. K. Rowling: It is understood, not until her third book did she get any attention for the Harry Potter series. The first book was rejected multiple times.
- A few years ago some students maintained a blog detailing their daily lives. An eccentric millionaire (it is only fair to refer to them as eccentric) bought their story for, it is believed, ten million dollars.
- Whilst on holiday Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber came across the book ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in a secondhand shop. Everyone knows what a success that became.
- It is also understood, ‘Gone with the Wind’ was rejected many times. Again, who can deny its subsequent success.
It should also be born in mind:
- Some independent, self-published books, have hit the best-seller lists.
- A few self-published books have been made into successful films.
Sometimes it is just a matter of the right person picking up a book. It may be someone influential or someone who has a ready following. In either case the fact they can draw other peoples attention to the book is what matters. There is no way of knowing if, or when, this may happen but if the book is not out there and is not mentioned from time to time, it is unlikely to find such discovery.
In addition, there is the fact, most authors only do themselves harm by not writing. For most, writing is inherent and for them not to do so brings stress, frustration, and despondency. Of course, they may choose to just write for themselves and perhaps for those close to them but if they have gone to the trouble of doing so, why not contribute to the world’s library. Not only will society be the richer for it but some may also find solace, guidance, encouragement, and help through their words.
Overall, no matter how they feel or the hardships they may be experiencing, authors should do not give up. Please do not rob the rest of the world of your valuable words.
Remember, no one may predict whether a book will find success or not.
Many authors have been pleasantly surprised.