Is writing books still worth the effort?
I know writers at every level who are asking that question, from new writers I meet at writers conferences to authors with multiple published books. This week I will make a case against writing a book, and next week I will make a case in favor of it. Please jump in with your own ideas or considerations I may have overlooked.
Here are some reasons not to write a book:
1. The Market is Already Flooded.
For me, this is one of the most discouraging reasons of all. Bowker, the organization that publishes Books in Print, reports that 347,178 new books were published last year in the United States. Let that sink in for a moment. Picture 10 books lined up in front of you. Now picture 100. Now 1,000. Now try to see a warehouse filled with 100,000. Now triple that. And you want to pour out your heart and soul to add one more book to that enormous pile?
The statistics are actually even more daunting than I have indicated. More than a million additional public domain books and reprints were also published last year, so a writer of a new book has to compete with those too. If you want to look at the figures for yourself, see the article on Bowker’s website here.
Of course I am mentioning only the books published in 2011. Let’s not even think of the millions of books published in the years and decades and centuries before that, or the ones that continue to pop up every day.
2. In the New World of Publishing, Books are Devalued.
Thanks to how easy and inexpensive it has become to publish e-books, books are no longer the valuable, prized possessions they used to be. Right now I couldn’t even tell you how many unread free downloaded books I have sitting in my Kindle. I don’t even recall the titles or authors of half of them. Those books are in addition to the many other impulse-buy 99-cent books that are there, along with a smattering of $2.99 books that I haven’t yet opened. This trend toward cheaper books is good for consumers in a way, but if a book costs about as much as a medium soda, will I value it about that much? What message does that send to publishers and readers about how much authors should be valued?
I remember when buying a book took a greater amount of thought and deliberation and even financial sacrifice than it does now. When my favorite authors came out with new books, I often wanted them right away, so I would Continue reading