Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: William Dietrich

Want To Be A Bestselling Author? ~ Don’t Read This Blog . . .


In fact, if you want to be a bestselling author, don’t read any blogs, don’t listen to any of the self-professed experts, don’t use social media, and don’t self-publish—just make a deal with the devil

There is no “path to success” as a writer.

There is no sure-fire way to sell lots of books.

Let me share some quotes from past posts to convince those who saw “Don’t Read This Blog . . .” and are still reading.

From Bad Advice for Writers = Most Advice for Writers:

“Someone is a writer and writes a book—no, wait—wants to write a book.

“That someone looks at the publishing landscape and realizes the intended years of effort to create the book could be followed by many more years of the book not selling, even if they self-publish, even if they spend every waking hour doing social media, even if they can afford to pay a publicist, even if they find a magician who specializes in spells woven ’round readers hearts

“Perhaps, to salvage the self-esteem of aspiring writers, there need to be other options than sales and money to keep their artistic boat afloat?”

I then go on to quote some of those options from electronic bindery.

From What Are A Writer’s Odds of “Success”?:

“Who made it seem success wasn’t merely the next stage, from which further action becomes possible, but rather a pinnacle of achievement that leaves all other contenders breathless on the sides of the conquered mountain? So, who did that? Businesspeople? Fundamentalist religious folk? Football coaches?”

“’Success’ comes from roots that mean ‘come close after’.

“Society has boosted its meaning to something like ‘beat all the odds…”

I share some interesting thoughts in that post from author William Dietrich.

From Lies Writers Tell Themselves (And, Each Other):

An article in grub street daily lists these lies:

1. You’re only a successful writer if you’re published by paying markets, such as the magazines that you can buy in Barnes & Noble.

2. You’re only a successful writer if you’ve published a book-length work with a big publishing house.

3. It is hard to write a book, but if it is good, you’ll easily get it published and earn money from the royalties.

4. If you don’t publish a book, you can’t write very well and you’re certainly not a professional.

5. If you’re not earning large amounts of money, you’re not successful in terms of your career.

6. If you self-publish, it means you aren’t talented and/or professional.

From What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?:

Tobias Buckell says:

“Making a living off art is hard.

“But that isn’t a sexy sell.

“That isn’t to say you should give up. Fuck that. But I am going to say: get ready to work, don’t expect riches. Focus hard on the art….

“There’s a lot of snake oil sales going on. And a lot of well meaning people who won the lottery telling everyone to go buy lottery tickets while financial advisors shake their head.

“Pretty much the same as its always been

“PS: this survivorship bias also works for writing advice about ‘how to write’ if you think about it

So

If you got hooked by that part of the title that said “Don’t Read This Blog” and you’re still reading, I do hope you’ll check out those past posts and read them—cure yourself of dreams of having a bestseller and get to work on your writing—Your Writing, not what you think will sell

And

If you do write a book that becomes a bestseller, make sure you live through the experience without selling your soul

Now, for a QuizWhat’s Wrong With This Video? ~ (While there’s certainly some interesting information and, possibly, even some “valuable” information in it, What’s Wrong With It ?)

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What Are A Writer’s Odds of “Success”?


“Pollsters report more than 80 percent of Americans would like to be an author, and in 2011 statisticians counted 329,259 books published in the United States, and 2.2 million books published in the world. Google estimates 130 million books have been published in human history.”

That quote is from an article by author William Dietrich called The Writer’s Odds.

“Books” in the quote would be more properly called “Unique Titles”.

That figure of 2.2 million/year might be a bit high since Bowker says it was more like 1.5 million

But, if we take the higher figure, each day, world-wide, some 6,027 books are born

The lower one gives about 4,110 books a day

Either way, what are the “odds” any one of those books will bring its author “success”?

In a post I did back in November of 2011, How Do You Measure Success?, I said:

“Who made it seem success wasn’t merely the next stage, from which further action becomes possible, but rather a pinnacle of achievement that leaves all other contenders breathless on the sides of the conquered mountain? So, who did that? Business people? Fundamentalist religious folk? Football coaches?”

“Success” comes from roots that mean “come close after”.

Society has boosted its meaning to something like “beat all the odds”

Mr. Dietrich’s article is written from the standpoint of traditional publishing so having a book rejected by an editor is considered not succeeding.

From that article:

“…rejection counts: Gone With the Wind, 38 times, Dune, 20 times, A Wrinkle in Time, 29 times, Lord of the Flies, 20 times, Kon Tiki, 20 times, Watership Down, 17 times, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, 18 times, Chicken Soup for the Soul, 33 times, James Joyce’s The Dubliners, 22 times, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, more than 100 times, MASH, 21 times.

“C.S. Lewis got 800 rejections, and Western writer Louis L’Amour 200. Even The Diary of Anne Frank got numerous rejections.”

And, a bit later in the article:

“As instructive as all this is, the odds of any author making it big remain very long, rejected or not. Nielson Bookscan reported in 2004 that of 1.2 million books tracked, only 25,000 – barely more than 2 percent – sold more than 5,000 copies.

“In 2006, Publisher’s Weekly said the average book sells less than 500 copies.”

So, if you’re a writer, do you want the success of being accepted by a traditional publisher?

Do you want the book to sell more than 500 copies?

If you were to self-publish, how many books sold would count as success?

Why?

………

In that past post of mine I quoted up there, after talking about the state (at that time) of my own book, I summarized my success with these words:

“I’ve written and published a book that is the core of my life’s work, begun 23 years ago and extending toward my last breath

I haven’t sold very many copies and I’ve given away around 323 copies

But, I’m still succeeding—taking the next steps—moving forward with my own brand of promotion—feeling like my efforts will, in and of themselves, constitute my own “success”

And, in the swirling frenzy of the current book-wars—the straining for the bestseller and the blockbuster—I can relax, do things my own way, and say, in the words of a character in my book:

“Patience is our weapon of choice.”

Would you like a free copy of my book?
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