Recently there have been articles in the media about the plight of the publishing industry and the state of play for authors in particular.
Here's a roundup of what these reports are saying.
I believe you should take note, even if you don't want to be reminded of the new realities of writing books for a living!
1. Traditional Publishers Finally Reveal the Facts
The truth is that when you're signed to a traditional publisher, there's no guarantee you'll make enough money to live on.
Less than one in a thousand authors with traditional publishing deals make over $100K per annum. In fact, 99% of published authors make less than $2000 a year.
Writers have long believed the myth that 'getting published' is the answer to their goals. The reality is different.
Even with all the “advantages” of distribution to retailers worldwide, third-party promotion, and the “kudos” of being signed to a publishing house, the vast majority of traditionally published writers will NEVER make enough in royalties to quit their day jobs.
Plus, The Big Five only publish a fraction of the books pitched to them by their in-house authors. So it's more than possible to get a publishing deal and then STILL not be able to release your books to the public!
2. The Net Has Come of Age
According to a recent survey of over 9000 writers, you're more likely to be making a living writing if you self-publish your work online.
The figures don't lie. Online authors who self-publish make, on average five to ten times the royalties per book than your average 'published' author.
Selling books online may be hard - but actually, no harder than it is for a publisher to sell books in shops. But, when you self-publish, you reap the rewards and don't have to give away up to 90% of your hard-earned royalties.
3. It's All in the Definition
Many people call themselves writers - but are probably not.
By government and welfare agency definitions, you can't be a writer unless you have a qualification of some sort, which is absurd.
But for the purposes of statistical analysis, the following is a useful definition:
"An author is a person engaged in writing commercial fiction or nonfiction AND who is actively working on a manuscript intended for publication soon."
Is this you? Or is this just what you aspire to do? Chances are, if the above definition does not describe exactly what you're doing RIGHT NOW, you shouldn't class yourself as a writer.
4. Amazon Rocks
The average successful author on Amazon Kindle makes up to ten times more money than the average author with a publishing deal.
Now that's a real eye-opener which completely flies in the face of those authors who consider self-publishing to be a cop-out - or not a definitive sign of success.
The truth is different. Having a traditional publishing deal now means you probably don’t write books worthy of self-publication.
5. Keep Dreaming
What's clear is that becoming a traditionally published author and then expecting this archaic route to somehow facilitate writing success is a dream. It just doesn't square with reality.
These days, having a book on the shelf of a bookstore doesn't carry weight in your pursuit of success - or even help you get by as a writer.
Simply put, the odds are completely stacked against you UNLESS you self-publish.
This is what most new authors don't want to hear!
You would think that authors would love to sell books - and the way to do that, clearly, is to sell them yourself online.
Think about it.
If you can't sell your own books, then you're not going to appeal to a traditional publisher.
And even if you do all the right things to impress a publisher and one signs you, you're still most likely going to end up with the 99% of published authors who make less than $2000 a year!
If you’ve been paying attention, you'll have noticed a trend.
Publishers have been clamoring to sign bestselling Kindle authors.
The reason is obvious. Successful Kindle authors write books that sell - which is the ONLY thing publishers want.
Clearly, the best way to get a publishing deal is to write commercial books and PROVE they're commercial by selling them YOURSELF through Amazon and Kindle.
But you need to change your thinking about this because, the fact is, if you believe you're not ready to self-publish, then you're definitely not ready to send a manuscript to an agent or publisher!
You should be absolutely convinced you've written a huge bestseller before you consider offering it to a publisher.
But, if you think you have written a bestseller, what better way to prove it than by self-publishing?
Too many writers send their MSS to publishers because they're really not good enough to self-publish.
There, I've said it.
That's the new reality most writers don't want to accept.
Anyone can send in manuscripts to publishers and agents with some vague hope they may get signed and then get famous.
But publishers only want authors who sell lots of books!
In this digital age, self-publishing is key to a writer's success.
Independent authors are far more likely to kick their day jobs than their snobby friends with traditional publishing deals will ever be!
Are you hearing me now?
(c) Rob Parnell
Articles on Writing