14 October 2016
Food for Thought from Richard Steinitz
Dear Friends and Acquaintances!
Some of you have been connected to me for many years now, and some of you are new friends. You are all important to me.
I want to share with you some thoughts that I have collected. All I ask is that you take a minute or two of your time, and think about these.
Picture #1: Did you know?
(PS – Many published authors make less than $1000 a year – and many even less!)
Picture #2: Rules of Reviewing
I am sending you these thoughts, since most people in the world have little idea of what the book business has become. Twenty years ago, there were tens, or perhaps a couple of hundred thousand books published annually.
FACTS: Bowker reports that over one million (1,052,803) books were published in the U.S. in 2009, which is more than triple the number of books published four years earlier (2005) in the U.S. (April 14, 2010 Bowker Report). According to UNESCO’s Worldometer, this year (2016), 1,776,321 books were published.
The numbers are huge, and astounding. Seems like a large percentage of the people on this planet are sitting at home, writing books!
A large percentage of these books will never sell more than 50 or 100 copies (mainly to friends and family) and that’s probably a good thing (probably not everyone who writes a book should be allowed to …).
However, deep in these huge numbers are many books that are really good, worthwhile reading, and yet probably will not sell many more copies, since no-one knows about them and how good they are. In the good old days, one could depend on book reviews published in the newspapers to suggest what was worth reading and what wasn’t. But today, that just doesn’t work. Think about how many reviewers it would take to review 1.7 MILLION books a year.
So statistics and algorithms have taken over and that’s what most readers will depend on. But this is a viscious circle – the more copies you sell, the higher you get in the statistics, and the higher you get in the statistics, the more you sell. And that’s where friends and connections come in. If authors were to depend only on word of mouth recommendations, next to no books would ever be sold. We need, nay depend on our statistical standings at places like Amazon. And the standings depend on readers’ reviews (as opposed to professional book reviewers in the newspapers).
We authors have to spend hours and dollars in attempts at getting people to read and recommend our works. Time which should be put to use doing better things (like writing more books that are hard to sell). It’s a hard, hard task and near to impossible to do, without a little help from our friends. And if we are already on the topic of money, think about this. Most people in the developed world spend more money DAILY on beverages (coffee/tea and soft-drinks) than it costs to buy an e-book. E-books count for statistics just like printed books.
I hope this message doesn’t come across too much like a begging or pleading letter, but to an extent it is. If you like to read, and like to read good books, then take some time to think about what I have written.
I hope you take this in the spirit it was meant, and if you have anything nice to say, please feel free to write back to me.
All the best!