Writing a book is simple. It really is. If you have a story, some talent, and a whole lot of passion, writing should come easily to you. I mean, sure, there are times you’ll want to bang your head against the computer (or just chuck it out the window, or drown your sorrows in a bottle of Jack Daniels), but when you look back on it – wow, writing was a trip.
Then there is selling. In today’s world, where publishing houses are battering down the hatches and a few writers are making money on lucky breaks (talent + good timing = luck), actually selling books has become a fight to the death. This isn’t anything new, of course. Go into any bookstore and you’ll see shelves of books you have never heard of. What makes people pick a book off the shelf and say “this one”? Even with recommendations, a nice cover, fancy placement, or media blitzes, there are still no guarantees that your book will sell.
Selling books has never been as easy as selling music, or ideas, or movies. A song you can download and listen to in three minutes. A movie takes two hours of your day. An idea can be had in seconds.
But a book…a book is time. When you sell a book, you are, essentially, selling <em>a slice of time</em>. The time it takes to read that book. And time, in this day and age, is a luxury. You are asking people to essentially indulge. To take a moment out of their busy lives to not only <em>buy</em> the book, but to actually <em>read</em> the book. You are asking for a commitment in a divorce-a-minute society.
No wonder selling books is so hard.
I guess the secret here is to find out a way to say “Hey, my book is worth a slice of your busy day. It’s worth the time spent on your commute to work, it’s worth your evening ritual with tea and a cookie. It’s worth being a companion on your vacation to Mexico.”
And it’s a gamble. No one likes to waste time.
But the risk might be worth it. And if it is, those are some moments in time that will enrich you. Or at least give you a pleasant diversion while waiting at the bus stop. Even if my books are just the latter, I’m grateful that people have taken a slice of time out of their lives and given it to me.