Discouraged or Determined?
2002: The five large New York publishers accounted for 45% of the market (made 45% of the sales.) They grossed $4.1 billion.
--Publishers Weekly, June 16, 2003.
2004: 2.8 million books in print.
--R.R. Bowker as reported in The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2004.
With the volume of new books being produced, it’s a pure wonder that any one of them are purchased and read. Also I’ve read that at any given time there are an estimated six million manuscripts and book proposals in circulation in different publishing houses. It’s pretty easy to feel like a small fish in a huge ocean.
Last week, I was talking with one of my author friends who has written for the children’s book market for more than twenty years. This successful author has more than six million books in print. I’ve never seen this author have her own website. Her books are promoted on her particular publisher’s websites. On a personal level, I know this author works hours and hours selecting the perfect words for her board books and preschool writing. She has labored and rewritten her manuscripts over and over. Here’s the news she told me, “I’ve never seen the children’s market so flat. We went through a dry spell several years ago and I thought it was over but it’s back.”
You can look at this information in two ways. It can discourage you to the point that you leave your writing and move on to a different arena. Or you can grow in your determination and become better at your craft. I’d encouraged the second response.
Here’s some ideas how to increase your determination:
- Join a free writer’s newsletter and read the material and apply it to your craft. I’ve produced 16 issues and they are only available to subscribers.
- Join a book club like the Writer’s Digest Book Club. Get the books (and read them—brilliant) then apply the material to your writing life.
- Join a writer’s critique group. It will force you to write and also improve your skills. If you don’t know what I’m talking about or how to start one, then follow this link.
- Try a different area of the market. If you’ve been working on a long novel, then try writing some shorter magazine articles. It may get you in a different mind set. As Bob Bly writes, “Do something.”
- Invest in a writer’s conference. There are many good ones out there—but prepare and get ready for it. Follow the links in this bullet for more information.
Finally look at your motivation for writing. Why are you doing it? If it’s to make money or get rich, then you may have a long road ahead. If you are trying to help others, tell a good story and produce quality material, then welcome. May your tribe increase.