There’s a new phenomenon out there for writers these days. It hasn’t got a name, but it’s there, and I suspect most of us have encountered it.
You write a book. You decide to publish it yourself, spend a lot of money on cover artwork, proof-readers and so forth, and start revving up promotions on social media – blog, Twitter, various of the services and so on. It’s all carefully planned and designed to create a buzz. It takes hours of hard work.
Then the book’s released and – nothing.
A few sales trickle through. That’s it. After a while it’s sitting there at the two-millionth rank on the Amazon seller lists, and nothing you do seems to be able to shift it.
That happens to commercial publishers, too, who add Amazon Kindle to their ways of distributing and selling.
What’s going on is pretty clear. Sure, some books do make money. But most don’t. Why? The field is absolutely swamped.
I’ve seen figures suggesting five million or more books are available on Kindle, and about 20,000 are added daily.
These sorts of numbers create two challenges. One is discovery. How can your stuff be found amidst the flood of everybody else’s – all of them being promoted with exactly the same tools in the fight to rise up Amazon’s ranking?
The other issue is that even if your book is discovered, it’s one of many, many such books flowing past the potential reader. Setting aside price – which is often ‘free’ – the main commodity that rears its head is time. Who’s got time to read all this stuff?
What can you do to promote your book ahead of the others? Not a lot, because everybody else has exactly the same tools, and these days most social media and services are striking the same problems of scale, hence reader discovery, as Kindle. Take blogging. A specific number of posts published worldwide is hard to obtain, but according to Quora, something like 1.97 million are released daily on WordPress alone, for 59.3 million a month. The site Worldometers, drawing from all blogs, suggests about 2.5 million posts are published daily on all platforms.
Once again, things get lost in the ‘noise’ – and who’s got time to read everything these days? I subscribe to only a limited number of blogs, deliberately, and even then I don’t get time to read every post by everybody I follow.
As for books – well, it’s become a lottery. And sometimes, somebody wins big. But not often.
I’m not sure what the answer is other than persistence and a lot of time pushed into promotions. Thoughts?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018