New And Serious Talk For Authors

Image - iStockphoto: Nikolaev
Image – iStockphoto: Nikolaev

Quiet Qualms, Important Inquiries

Most major ebook retailers have suffered anemic or declining sales over the last 12-18 months. The gravy train of exponential sales growth is over. Indies have hit a brick wall and are scrambling to make sense of it.

Mark Coker
Mark Coker

In a way, Mark Coker of Smashwords may be saying what we need most to hear. Here’s some more:

In recent weeks…I’ve heard a number of indie authors report that their sales at Amazon dropped significantly since July when Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited…Some authors are considering quitting. It’s heartbreaking to hear this, but I’m not surprised either. When authors hit hard times, sometimes the reasons to quit seem to outnumber the reasons to power on. Often these voices come from friends and family who admire our authorship but question the financial sensibility of it all.

Actually, these voices are coming from farther afield than our friends and families. Earlier this month, I moderated a panel on self-publishing and the  marketplace in London. A very distinquished and beautifully spoken man — I’d say he’s about 50 — spoke up from halfway back in the room.

He started by saying, “This is not meant to subvert the entire occasion here today.” The nervous titters in the room at that indicated that everyone realized something perhaps unpleasant was coming:

It does seem to me, ultimately, whether you’re talking about traditional publishing or self-publishing, you have two irreducible facts. One is that there is a limited number of readers. And two, there’s a limited number of potentially readable authors. I can see that self-publishing has improved things. And that has created a bit of a power shift from the publishers to the authors. But I don’t think it has changed this fundamental equation. So are we wasting our time?

The room had become very quiet. The excellent rationality of this comment alone had everyone’s rapt attention. The gentleman went on:

Let’s assume that we’re all aspiring authors here today. This number of aspiring authors has always been here. And most of them have never got anywhere. Because they’ve come up against traditional publishers or agents…How has that changed with self-publishing? How many in this group here today can reasonably expect to become successful writers? How will it all get read?

In all the many (many) workshops and conference sessions and tutorials and seminars in which I’ve had a chance to meet and talk with authors, both traditionally and self-published, this was the first time — the very first time — that someone actually called the question, if you will.

Here was this well-dressed, intensely articulate, thoughtful, cool-headed man asking what may be the most important question a prospective writer might need to ask. And yet those of us who speak to and work with writers and would-be authors for a living almost never hear that question: Can I reasonably expect to succeed?

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There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: New And Serious Talk For Authors

Originally published by Thought Catalog at



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