Thursday, August 21, 2014

The "If you write it, they will read it" Myth - #amwriting

Rain, Jason, Allie, and A.J. must
reunite at a haunted lake house...
When I started my first novel, SILVER LAKE, I was terribly naïve.  I had no idea what I was getting into, or the enormity of the project I was contemplating.  All I knew was that I had an excellent story in my head that I'd been creating for years, just waiting to be told.  Rain and Jason would have been high school sweethearts if not for the boyfriend--they deserved a second chance at love.  The mystery of Brandy's disappearance needed to be solved--and getting the former friends together at the lake house would be one last attempt to find out what happened that bleak February of senior year.  The urgency was there--Brandy's mother was dying, and she needed to know what happened to her only child.  Finally, Brandy's ghost deserved to rest in peace--but she couldn't, at least not until she managed to expose the truth.  But would her friends gather together to help her get her message across?  Not everyone wanted old secrets to come out.  Like it or not, though...I was going to reveal it all.

And so I began, thankfully, before I knew about the statistics.  Ones like a typical agent accepts less than 1% of the manuscripts submitted.  Or the one about how over a million books are published each year in the US alone, and that number is predicted to grow exponentially every year.  The fact is, a staggering amount of books are added to Amazon every month.  I was under the very foolish impression that IF I did it--finished the book--and IF a publisher felt it was good enough to contract--I'd be home free.  A sort of "if you write it, they will read it" type of rosy outlook.

False.  Any writers reading this know that unless we're talking about a bestselling author name backed by a ton of marketing and publicity, "if you write it, they will read it" is not the case.  There are so many books out there, all fighting for readers.  And the number of Americans who have not read a single book in a year has tripled since 1978.  Only 28% of Americans read 11 or more books in 2014, compared to 42% in 1978 (source: Pew and Gallup).   

Which brings us to self-promotion, which is something most of us HAVE to do if we want to at least make our books KNOWN to potential readers.  If we don't put our book out there, the chances of someone just stumbling across it while browsing the 1.2 million titles on Kindle are not great (never mind the overall number of...wait for it...32.8 million books in all formats on Amazon).  So we have to keep pushing our titles, at the risk of annoying our social media friends. 

It's a bit discouraging, since my goal, both when I started and now, is to entertain people who love to read.  I love to read, and finding a great book that draws me in and won't let go makes me absurdly happy.  In order to at least put my novels on the radar of people who enjoy romance, suspense, and paranormal mysteries, I have to self-promote.

And I'm not complaining, because for the most part, I don't mind blogging, tweeting, networking, etc.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it would be great if once I was done writing a book, it would just fly off the shelves with little effort on my part.  But that's not how it is.  And that's okay.  I've learned so much as I navigate all the sites.  I've met some great people and joined in some hilarious conversations.  Social media allows authors to engage with readers in a whole new way, and it can be very rewarding and just plain fun.

The problem is...there are only so many hours in the day.  I teach fitness classes in the morning.  Now I teach fiction writing in the evening.  I have a husband, two boys, and several rescued pets, and they all enjoy being fed on a regular basis.  Occasionally, some of them want to spend time with me.  Almost daily, they want to be driven somewhere (well, not the cat...he hates the car).  So time spent on promotion and marketing is time away from writing.

Despite my hectic schedule and the dismal statistics, I'll keep on going, because writers have to write.  It's what we do.  Rain, Jason, and Brandy got their stories told, and then Claire and Max, followed by Jamie and Dothan.  Now all the other characters in my head want their chance too; new ideas are constantly brewing in my imagination.  And I'll continue with my marketing efforts, in order to increase the chances that my novels will make their way into readers' hands, and hopefully provide them with hours of excitement and entertainment.  That's what it's all about!

(P.S. - that first novel, SILVER LAKE, is on sale for only 99 cents for a few more days!)

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