Novelists like me who try for Amazon self publishing and other DIY channels stand at the head of a long alleyway. If success rests on the other end of that alley, then the dark walk through that ally is full of obstacles, vicious stray animals, muggers ready to steal money, missing manhole covers, swinging pianos, broken glass, and quicksand.
Am I making it sound bleak? I am an optimist in so many ways, but when it comes to thinking I’m the guy who will put out the next runaway best seller, I have to admit, my optimism flags off. We novelists compete with not only the latest hot stories to hit the streets, but with every great manuscript ever written. Amazon now offers over 2-million titles. How can we expect to rise up in a crowd that contains Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, William Faulkner, and J.K. Rowling?
For self-publishers the story looks even bleaker. Publishing firms, the big ones anyways, offer a family of publicist and marketing services along with a writing contract. Self-publishers have to foot the bill all on their own. Along with the expense and time it takes to make noise in an earsplittingly loud world, the mark, self-published author also brings with it the stigma, crappy author. Self-published authors must not only compete with millions of publishing house releases, they must compete with that again and more of vanity press books. Hence, Amazon self publishing in and of itself is not the answer.
I always say in my workshops that as a self published author, you have 2 responsibilities: 1) charge for your novels; if you give them away, readers are less willing to buy from self-published authors who seek compensation for their work, and 2) don’t publish crap; make sure that your novel is marketable before releasing it into the world. A market full of garbage makes it difficult for talented self-published writers to sell.
So in the face of all this, why do I write? I will be honest; sometimes the obstacles that block success discourage me. Sometimes I just say to myself, “Why do you even try?”
But one small fact keeps me writing: I love to write. I love to craft stories. I love to step them out. I love to spend time with the characters, getting to know them, loving them, even killing them. If I didn’t love the act of writing and the sense of accomplishment I get when I put down those two great words The end at the conclusion of a manuscript, I would have given up long ago. In a sense, for me, success isn’t even on the balance. I write because I like to write: that is enough.