Let's Talk Quantity

6:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 50 Comments

What is my insecurity this month? 

Quantity. 

Tara Tyler and me
at the Ohio Expos
Last month, I went to the Ohio Expos for readers and writers. It was an event that hosted more authors than readers. We were all there basically selling to each other. 

As a writer, I am also a reader. Book buying is as exciting as shoe shopping, so having down time to peruse the available books wasn't a totally bad thing. 

But from a reader's perspective, I couldn't buy all the books I wanted. I had a budget to stick with. So, out of all of these available, most certainly worthy books, I walked away with two new ones. 

I still haven't had time to read these new books. Earlier in the summer, I bought several titles for my Kindle. Then there are the books I've won in contests, the beta reads, and Net Galley reads. I've read a lot this summer, but I'm still way behind because as a reader, I'm swamped. I could NOT buy another book for a year and still not get through my to-read list. 

Good thing for family!
My cousin Jenny and Aunt Judy stopped in and stocked up. 
From a writer's perspective, that's flattening.

I was beginning to wonder...are there more writers than there are readers? 

Years and years ago, long before the rise of the indie market, I read an article in a writing magazine about the predicted glut of writers in the future. That the upstarts would hurt the market, making writing more of a hobby than a profession because there will be so many writers, they will desperately give away their work for free or dirt cheap in order to bait a single reader.  
Young reader Kailee
There is hope.
She was eager for a book!

That article was prophetic.

Maybe there are just too many. Maybe a new book makes as much impact on the market as a hailstorm over an ocean. 

But then there is always hope. In conversation with the other writers (because we had lots of chat time in our down time), we decided that we may survive. Writing is hard work.

Every newbie (including ourselves) thought words on a page would be the magical portal to a life of leisure and liquidity. The hard truth is, sometimes if you're the author who sold a single title on a day when writers outnumber readers twenty-five to one, you're a best seller. That's not a truth new writers want to hear. And it's a truth that writers whose hearts aren't in it will tolerate. 

It's that marathon theory. Success in writing is a race measured in miles, not yards. And not everyone wants to train for marathons. 

Why does that inspire hope? 

Because when you accept that something is intrinsically hard, and possibly getting harder every day, it's no longer a personal failure, but a challenge.


IWSG question of the month:
What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

It was an action/romance about a kidnapped debutante and the hot black ops spy who saved her. It's sitting on my hard drive collecting dust. 


Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for the August edition of the IWSG: 
Tonja Drecker
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Lauren @ Pensuasion
Stephen Tremp
Julie Flanders



50 comments:

  1. Pleased you had a good time, love the bit about buying books is like buying shoes.
    Don't let your first attempt at writing have dust covering it be proud of what was the start of a very successful part of your life.
    Yvonne.

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    1. I did have a good time. We can never underestimate the benefit of hanging out with other writers. I learned a lot that day. We have a lot we can teach each other.

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  2. Look at you and Tara!
    Bummer there weren't more readers. But even finding one reader who enjoys your work is satisfying.

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    1. Aren't we a great pair? Tara has taught me so much. A real writer buddy.

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  3. Maybe one day it will come up on your hard drive and you will edit it. Sounds like it could be an interesting book.
    Congratulations also on your book fair. You are getting out there. All beginnings are difficult. Keep going until what you want to happen, happens for you.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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    1. That's why I keep it. I knew nothing about writing back then, but I love the characters and the story.

      The coordinators of the event were the most disappointed. They worked hard to put that together. It was their first year, so like all things, it will take time to grow it.

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  4. Love the pics, and your table looks so nice!

    So many stories - to read! to write! - and so little time. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks!

      Yes, there are so many. This summer, I have tried to give my self the guilty pleasure of reading more. My house is cluttering up, but I've read a lot.

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  5. Finding that one reader works. And with all the books out there, the odds of a hit is the same as winning the 649 lottery up here. So that kinda puts things into perspective. Good thing I'm a stubborn sob lol

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    1. Being stubborn is so very important. If you want it to come easy, you may as well give it up.

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  6. So true, Elizabeth. It's nice to have a reminder that I'm in this fire the long haul.

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    1. We've been in it a long time together already- why give up now? (Besides, I know where you live if you try to quit...I will hunt you down, LOL)

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  7. Yes, it is so that there are so many writers today. I have dozens of books, if not hundreds, which I didn't pay a cent for or only about 99 cents. All on my Kindle. I stopped "buying" them when it occurred to me that I could never read all of them anyway. Unless you are very lucky, like Jo Rowland or someone, actually making real money seems almost impossible today.

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    1. As a reader, I'll pay under $5.00 for an eBook- if it's written by a friend- but I no longer pay more than that. There are too many good ones I can read for a lot less. And if it's a very popular book that everyone tells me I have to read, I still have my library card.

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  8. Connecting with people in person is the still the best and has the most long-lasting effects. So glad you went and met other authors.

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    1. I do agree with you. Anymore, I have so many writer friends, I will always buy their books first. So connections do help!

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  9. You're totally on the mark. I look at my books as a passive income that will hopefully come into play near retirement. Everything else is just an investment in the long term.

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    1. We do have the pleasure of the dream. I mean, who knows what could happen in twenty years?

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  10. Yep, sometimes it does seem like there are more writers than readers. The trick, I think, is to focus on your core audience, the ones who really get your books, and not worry about the rest of the readers. Some writers make a nice living doing it that way. At least that's what I've heard.

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    1. That's good advice. It surely doesn't help to obsess over the negative.

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  11. Now I feel a little better about the handful of sales I've made so far with my short story collection. Each one is a victory!

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    1. You should feel great about those sales! Sure we all want our sale to measure in the millions, but with the sea of books available, if you're pulling in a handful, you are the bomb.

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  12. There are a lot of authors to every reader, but we need to remember that not all books appeal to every reader and that not all books are of a quality good enough for every reader. So when you take out the ones that don't fit your window I think the percentages are better. Maybe?

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    1. Great point. And we have to stop being so hard on ourselves. Every sale is a win.

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  13. I wish I could have gone to this event just to hang out with you and Tara. I'm sorry you were all selling to each other, though. Been there, done that more times than I like to think about.
    Great picture of you two!!

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    1. I wish you'd have been there too! The organizers said they were going to put some more together, so we'll keep you posted. They were a great group of people. They just need to tweak a few things and stay in it long enough to build a reader following.

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  14. Liz!!! I love the pic of you and Tara, first off. I wish you had more readers at your expo. If I could've been there, I so would've. Like you said, it's their first year, so it's a learning process. You're spot on when you talk about how difficult writing is. It's why I'm not published yet and probably why I've read works that shouldn't have been published in the first place.

    Good authors like you will persevere and be seen long after many that don't take it seriously enough give up. Love you!! Xoxoxo

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    1. Ahh Eva, you're the best!!! I wish you would have been close enough to stop by. That would have been amazing! Love you too chick. Keep plugging away, you'll get published one day.

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  15. That looks like a fun event, and I totally hear you on being behind on reading. I'm there myself. At least there is hope, even if the glory isn't quite as big of a flame.

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    1. I suppose if you think about it...too large a flame would just burn us anyhow, so maybe a small burning glow is the best. :)

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  16. So pleased you had a great time, Elizabeth. I'm addicted to buying books! My to read list is so long, I go to bed an hour earlier to get reading :) Have a super month.

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    1. Me too! That's one of the reasons I love the Kindle. I can read without the light on.

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  17. I knew from a young age writing would be hard work. I just didn't care. That's what happens when you know what you want and willing to work a thousand jobs if you can still do what you love. Plus my less than encouraging family members let me know writing was not a money maker any chance they got. Thanks but I don't mingle with obstacles. Kidding, I couldn't say that to my parents' faces.

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    1. I can always count on you for some honest, tough truths. You do have to love it. There is not enough pay out, either in the form of glory or cash, to sustain you. When I first started writing, I didn't tell anyone. I didn't want to experience the eye rolls. You stick with it, lady. I can't wait to buy your book!!

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  18. Writing is hard, tedious work, that part, I enjoy, usually. It's the marketing, and like you said, finding a reader that will enjoy your labor. Love the pic of you and Tara!

    I love books. I can walk around a book store forever.

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    1. Marketing gets a big BOO every time. I too would much rather write or walk around books stores.

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  19. After getting so many free books at conferences that I never read, I finally got smart and more selective. Too many books, so little time. I swear that's going on my tombstone.

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    1. We can only read so many books. I used to finish a book, no matter what. Now, if I'm not sucked in after a few chapters, I'm done.

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  20. It's funny you asked that because my problem is that most of my fans and followwest are writers. I need readers readers. And it's so hard to target them. At least that's my problem right now.

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    1. I once thought that, but then I thought- all of us were readers first. So really, we are our target audience. At book events, almost every avid reader seems to have the desire to write a book. It's like my boys...they love football. They love to play it, watch it, read about it.

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  21. I also have loads of unread books on my Kindle.
    There's a quote about the joy of unread books, that goes like this: "I take comfort in knowing that I will have appropriate reading material whatever my mood, that I will be spoiled for choice whenever I want a book, and that I will never, ever run out of new stories." I think that's so cool. Don't you agree?

    So do you have any intentions of revisiting the kidnapped debutante and the hot black ops spy? Never know where that may lead...

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    1. I do agree! That is dead on. My mood does vary, so it is great to have a pile to choose from.

      I have rewritten the first few chapters on the debutante and black ops story. I do love the characters.

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  22. What a brilliant post, Elizabeth and certainly food for thought. It is hard to find readers but if you can get one who loves it, you know she'll recommend to another one and so on. But it's not easy. I'm like you about the amount of books I've got to read. I'm always buying / downloading new ones when I've still got a mountain ob my bookshelves and so many on my kindle but I know I'll get through them... eventually lol!
    Suzy xx
    www.suzyturner.com

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  23. Oh yes, I've been having that same thought recently, but not lucky enough to be in a room full of writers to talk me out of the funk. I feel your pain at being on a budget with so many books on offer!

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  24. It's pretty disheartening to me :-( It's why I haven't done anything since the last book of my trilogy published in Jan 2014. I don't make tons of money teaching either, but it pays the bills, so these days I spend my weekends writing awesome lesson plans for English classes instead :-)

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  25. It definitely counts as good exposure. Glad you had a good time. It was so cool of your family to make some purchases. I don't think we have that kind of expos here in South Africa. I will have to really go check. It sounds like fun, though. I had the same fear and in fact, I still do. Are there too many writers and too few readers? It definitely feels like it at the moment. Wishing you many more sales.

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  26. Interesting and thought-provoking post. I know I'll never have time to read all the books I'd like to read. And it does seem like there are more books out there than what could possibly be read. Writing books is definitely a marathon. You have to be in it for the long haul, so maybe when the luster wears off CreateSpace and people realize how much work writing is, the number of books published yearly will go down. Who knows? Good luck with your sales!

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  27. Great post. I also have far more books than I can possibly read, even though I read close to 100 each year. If I never bought another book again, and lived to 80, I might make it through them all--MIGHT. And yet, I still buy books!

    Giving the first book in a series away for free has become a smart strategy to get noticed. But yeah, I never thought I'd see the day when I'd think that was a good idea. Times, they are a'changing.

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