Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with my best friend, who is also an author. One that I figured I should share with you all today.
It's funny how the most interesting conversations start.
It started with something as simple as saying, "Man, if Buyers only knew how hard it is to make a book!"
I mean, guys... if you've never done it, I can promise you, it's major league hard work! But, back to what I was saying...
What did that conversation stem from, you're wondering? It came from the fact that these past few weeks she and I have been working diligently to get some books published.
Being the people that we are (extreme perfectionists), we refuse to put something out that we know isn't up to par. We check, double check, triple check and then check a fourth time--fifth, if necessary--just to make sure our works, and those of people whom we are helping, are the best they can be in every aspect.
No, seriously, I mean, they really need to be right--from syntax, to formatting, to cover, to overall look. It's just how we roll. Lol. :P
However, we've found that in today's society--growing more and more every day--book sales are plummeting.
Oh... I'll tell you why!
It boils down to 3 things:
1. People want EVERYTHING for FREE
3. Quantity, winning over Quality
Here goes... brace yourselves for a harsh lesson on "Book Sales Hell".
Let's tackle these questions in reverse. Methinks it'll be more effective that way.
Quantity, winning over Quality
In late years, especially here in the US, people have become fixated on "how much" they can get for "how little". For some reason this has no reflection on the quality of the items. We find so many people trading in Quality for Quantity. What's the down side of this?
My grandmother used to say (In Spanish--translating here) "All cheap things, are expensive in the long run."
What does this mean? Well, it means that when you buy something cheap (this would be "cheap" as in quality wise. IE: low quality) that chances are you're going to regret it. It's either not going to last as long as you'd like, or it's not going to be as good as you like.
It's like trading in Hellman's Mayo for the Knockoff brand.
They'll both coat your sandwich bread nicely, but truthfully, which one tastes better?
You might also be able to purchase a 32oz jar of the Knockoff, for less than you'd pay on the Name brand, but the truth is it'll probably taste like crap, you'll wind up throwing it out, and then going back to the store to buy the good one anyways.
Now, I'm the first to understand that desperate times call for desperate measures, but sometimes weighing our options is a good thing.
Quantity does NOT always (as the matter of fact, rarely) equal quality. Sometimes, paying a bit more is worth the price.
You ever been approached by a "fellow author" who sends you an incredibly informal email/Facebook post/Twitter message that says, "Hey, go like my page and buy my book!" without any real attempt at wanting to get to know you or genuine interest in connecting with you?
Oh, boy! I get those damn things almost EVERY day!
Then, some of us at the attempt of being kind actually go and Like their Facebook page, or Follow them on Twitter, or even go as far as buying their book only to then be Unliked/Unfollowed or turned a cold shoulder on.
YES! This is a hard market. YES! It's a battlefield. YES! We are all trying to get our names out there. All of these things are true. But, I find that together we are stronger than we are apart.
You know that old saying "Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours". Enough said.
Don't be such an ass and try to pull the wool over another author's eyes. They are trying just as hard as you are, AND being kind to you, to boot!
And, LAST but certainly NOT LEAST is
People want EVERYTHING for FREE
Returning to where I started...
People (Buyers in particular) seem to have no clue how much hard work it takes to produce a quality book--especially if you're Indie.
Let us count the ways, shall we?
- First you have to write the book. That's the easy part.
- Then you need to edit the book. This can be a meticulous and tedious process. Moreover, you have to be tenacious because it requires TONS, AND TONS, AND TONS of focus and determination to get things just right. And that's just on the author's side of things, prior to submitting it to an editor or proofreaders. 9 times out of 10 the editor/proofreader will see things you missed which will require your attention and yet ANOTHER round of edits. (PS: This costs money!) So, without exaggeration, if you want to put out a quality work, you might have to edit and reedit your work--minimum--4 to 5 times.
- Then once that book is perfectly edited--or as perfectly as you're capable of--it needs to be formatted for publication. This is another pain in the ass process, because each publishing platform has his/her set of specifications that you must follow to the letter. Also eBook formatting and paperback formatting are two different ball games altogether. Now, if you're having trouble doing that formatting, you may want to call on a professional to do it for you. (PS: This also costs money!)
- Oh wait... let's not forget the Cover Challenge. You want the perfect cover. I mean, who doesn't right? You might be inclined to make the cover yourself. However, if you're digitally challenged, then you might have to hire a professional for this too. (And, PS: Guess what? Yup! This TOO costs money!)
- Then comes the loading process. That is, getting the book loaded to all of the Retail outlets that you've selected. This takes time and patience, because Lord forbid they make it simple.
- Next is the "Marketing Process"... You need to find ARC readers, a target audience, battle through the crowd and wave your hand like a maniac to get noticed, do a few Circus trick or ten, do some back flips and learn to tap dance.
- Let's not forget the "Review Submission Process". First it's search, search and search some more until you find reviewers that'll take your work. Next it's submit, submit and submit some more, until someone notices and replies. Then it's wait, wait and wait some more until you finally start seeing reviews pop up on your book. The problem is that not all of them are going to be good. Also, there is the matter of reviewers that charge money! (PS: You already know what I'm going to say...)
Side note: My friends, let me tell you, if you don't love the market, you might as well not even attempt to delve into it. Because I can promise you that you're going to quit before you get started.
Back to what I was saying.
Getting a book published is no easy feat.
It takes time, effort AND MONEY! Yet, time and time again, more frequently than not, people DO NOT want to pay for your book. All the while you've already spent hundreds of dollars on just getting it out there. Basically, you're flushing your money down the toilet.
Here is the problem that I have with it.
NO ONE WANTS TO WORK FOR FREE! No one is that kindhearted. People work and want to reap from what they sow. Yet, in the book industry, Readers want to indulge in a fantastic book without paying a red cent. Cause I can guarantee you that if your book is crap, they are the first to degrade it and stomp all over your book.
STILL, they won't pay!
For me, in particular, the worst thing is that my FULL TIME JOB is THIS (the literary market--writing and publishing books). THIS is what I DO FOR A LIVING, yet I'm making no living doing it.
If I had the option, I WOULD work outside of my home at a regular 9-5 like other people, but for me personally that isn't an option. So, THIS is what I count on.
But how can I count on something when no one want to buy a single book? People want to barter and complain about the prices. People want to fuss and moan about the quality. People want to go out of their way to bitch about said things, but NO ONE is willing to pay for something that is quality work.
I look at it this way. When I go to the store to buy something, I go with money on hand already knowing that what I need is going to cost money. I expect it to. Walmart ISN'T Santa Claus, they're not just giving shit away. If you want something, you HAVE to pay for it. No if, ands or buts about it.
So, why do people think it's okay to do that to Authors?
Come on Readers, throw US AUTHORS a freaking bone here!
Take THIS into consideration. While YOU are paying (let's say) $3.99 for an eBook, the Indie Author is only make a few cents on the dollar. They're lucky if they make $0.50 on that sale. NOT ALL of the money is going towards their proceeds. Most of it goes to the Retailer simply for selling their book.
Can an author like me really live off of 50 cents a month (if I'm lucky)?
STOP BEING FREAKING CHEAP SKATES! Help us out! If you want to continually enjoy books by the few good writers that are out there, then spit up the money y'all!