Anyone with an interest in reading will know ‘books’ (to use the term loosely) now come in many different shapes, sizes and formats, of which the traditional store-bought paperback is just one. EBooks are here to stay, and even dominate some markets; audio-books are a godsend for the visually impaired, or for listening to a story while driving or performing some other task. There are even combinations of formats: – Booktrack, for example, provides eBooks with soundtracks to enhance the reading experience.
Consequently, authors have endless opportunities to publish their work in any form they desire. Print on demand services make it easy produce hard-copies of novels for sale in shops, and the easy process of uploading digital files to Smashwords, Draft2digital and Amazon means a work can go on line within minutes and be available for sale by the reading public. All this is good news for writers, and unsurprisingly the number of books being written and produced has increased dramatically each year.
Unfortunately, as a result of this flood of creativity, the world is now awash with books for whom there are no readers. There are something like 600,000 to 1,000,000 new books (depending on which statistics you use), published each year in the US alone. The number of readers hasn’t increased. Indeed, my son remarked that my own reading hours have reduced since I started writing novels. If we extrapolate this across every new author who uploads their book to Amazon, it may be that there is an effective decrease in the number of active readers. Given this, it stands to reason that there is now a glut of material which will never find an audience. Relatively few books listed on Amazon will make money for their authors, and a miniscule percentage achieve best-seller status. The average author, with books listed on Amazon, makes $250 or less per year. The business of writing is clearly not about fame and fortune for the writer.
How then does a writer stand out in this overcrowded market and make their book visible to a potential purchaser? Just listing a book on Amazon and hoping it sells is clearly not going to cut it as a viable sales strategy.