Are there just too many books? If so, why do we keep writing them?

On January 29, 2013 by Aimee

This thought hits me … well … pretty often. Yes, I’m an author and that could be why. I’m also a reader, so that could be why. I’m also a marketer, so there’s another reason why I might think about this topic.

The author perspective …
I know I’ve totaled out how much money the ‘average’ author might make on his/her book. Quick math: average sales : 500 books, average ebook royalty 40%, average book price, $4.99 … yes, that means for one book, a total of $998 … less taxes. ::sigh::


And for some, that’s far less. For others far more. That’s not, though, enough to make a living. And worse, that $998 may be made over the course of YEARS.

So why do we keep writing? If one book which might take me-the-author 80 hours to write (oooh … that’s $12 an hour) … and 10 hours a week to market … (oooh, so I’m down to $11/hr … except that marketing is over weeks, not A week … $5/hr?) is it worth it?

Well … is it really worth it?

The Reader perspective …
In January 2013 alone, I counted 65 adult and YA paranormal books being released. That’s one genre. One of … hundreds. Back to our basic math, that’s 65 times 100 or 6500 books! In one month. And the reality is, it’s probably more. I really don’t know.

The worse part is paranormal is my genre … it’s my favorite genre because I like the stuff that doesn’t really exist (shhh! don’t tell my characters I said that in my out loud voice). It’s true though. That’s 65 books *I* might want to read, in January ALONE.

I’ll never, ever, ever get to them all. Nope. Never. Then tack on February’s releases (another 65? Another 6500?). Then March … and you see the problem. It’s overwhelming to see the volume of stories coming out from publishing houses alone. This doesn’t even count self-published books.

OMG! What do I do? How am I going to read all these books?

The marketer perspective…
How in the world am I supposed to promote myself in a market saturated with everyone else? There’s no room to be ‘seen’ let alone ‘heard’ and the old “children shouldn’t be seen or heard’ doesn’t work. To sell books, we must market ourselves. We must be ‘out there’. We must gain followers. We. Must. Be. Seen.

If the average sale is 500 copies and it takes 17 (probably more now) impressions before someone buys, I might have a reach of over 8000 people. Maybe. But of those, 7500 only saw it 16 times and thus didn’t buy it. Or, I really only reached 500.

Wow. Why then do we go to all this effort to market if no one is seeing it? The old “If you build it, they will come” simply doesn’t apply?

I mean if it did, every wanna-be actor or actress would walk the red carpet and accept an Oscar. Every garage-musician would have a hit record and not be a one-hit-wonder. Every little boy would be a fireman. Every little girl would be a prima ballerina. Every mom would be a photographer … oh wait … that’s already true. 😉

We can’t all have the top spot, or as Dash or Violet from The Incredibles, says, “If everyone’s special, that means no one is.”

It’s not that we’re all trying to be special, I don’t think. It’s that we all want to enjoy our lives and want to share in what we do with others.

So to get back to my question … why do we keep writing if there are too many books?

From the author perspective …
Because I have a story to tell.

From the reader perspective …
Because I love to read and if those books aren’t there, what will I have to look forward to?

From the marketer perspective …
Because if we don’t, we won’t reach number 501, and that 1 person is worth the effort.

So yeah, there ARE too many books. There AREN’T enough readers. There isn’t enough marketing power for the general population.

But that’s … okay because it’s not the point and reader, authors and marketers will carry on with the circular cycle. Hopefully, forever.