Nothing is more humbling than going through the book liquidation lists.
Each of these books represent the dreams and aspirations of writers and publishers. Most of them look pretty solid to me. Maybe not my subject, maybe not my mood -- but you can see why they were published, and as I say, they look more than competent. Many of them actually were successful but there is an excess of them for some reason.
So there's this weird conversation I had in the store this weekend.
Someone asked me how hard it was to get published. "Very hard," I said, and sort of went off on all the reasons.
And then I said, "Over 400,000 books are being published a year!"
It wasn't until the customer walked out that I realized how contradictory those two statements are. I mean, if 400K books are published a year, how hard can it be, really? The publishers must be looking to fill those slots.
I haven't resolved this contradiction to my own satisfaction yet. Except, that while 400K might seem like one hell of a lot of books, maybe not if there are millions of people trying to write them? How many of them are self-published?
It's easier than ever before to write a book. The technology makes it much more possible, and much cheaper, so it probably shouldn't be a surprise that so many people are writing books. (I suspect the old way of typing and copying and mailing and waiting and so on, weeded out a lot of potential authors...)
Maybe what I should have said, it's not hard to get published unless you go the traditional route, but it is very, very hard to be noticed. And it is clear to me that getting published by a traditional publisher is no guarantee that you'll be noticed either.
Still, maybe having a book published really isn't that big a deal. I mean, 400K a year are put out, and obvious a huge number of authors.
As I said, it keeps you humble. It's both intimidating and reassuring that so many books are published, but so few make any impact.
All if it shouldn't matter, I suppose. The writing is what counts.
1 week ago