The Have Or The Have Nots
The world of publishing has become so diversified along with being wide open for just about anyone to publish. Have an idea? Great! Just write and upload. When I first began in the publishing world as a ghost writer, it was a traditional one—involving agents, publishing houses and social media was just a hobby that was never expected to be anything more than that.
Now? Social media is basically the core for promo and advertising among the indie world. It’s no longer controlled by the big six or agents—indie authors or no longer the minority, but in many ways they are the complete opposite. When I published my first collection in 2012, I had to learn to utilize and rethink how best to use these new tools to get my book out there and seen. The support I received was incredible—fellow authors pimped it, people spread the word and the book did better than we ever dreamed. It was in the black in pre-sales before it even went to print with all the costs covered. I had never been more proud to become a part of this indie world as I was then. It was all about everyone helping everyone and negativity was something I just did not see.
Fast forward to 2015. I’m about to publish my fifth book and have almost 10-times more followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc so one might think that would mean an even broader spread of the wonderful help I had received with my first book—it would only make sense, right?
But first, let’s discuss why that need is so crucial in today’s indie publishing world. Let’s call it business 101- Supply and Demand. Any newbie to business or economics will tell that supply and demand are crucial to any market. They could probably use a lot of fancy numbers and statistics but no worry; I go brain dead at math so we’ll use words to make this simple. Supply is any one product that is placed out there for sale. Demand is how high the consumers want and/or need is for that product. They want it, they’ll buy it. It’s that simple.
So let’s apply that to the indie publishing world. Right now, if you log on to Amazon, you will find thousands if not millions of books for free. You’ll find the same for 99 cent books. So there is a TON of supply out there in the form of millions of a product. Sure, they’re all from different genres and such, but in a generic way of portraying it for this discussion—there are millions of books. All free and cheap for a reader to grab which leads me to discuss how demand plays into our little chit-chat.
Demand – when you have a group of readers and they have millions of books to choose from, how in the world are we going to stand out so they see one book above a saturated market of millions?
Note: Let me be clear on one thing—I will never give my books away or mark them down to 99 cents, unless it’s for a very limited time and/or a special occasion. Why? I worked hard on that thing and I paid a lot for every single step in that book. I may have just spent every non-working hour for a year or more creating the pages that I put out there for the reader. So my books are priced for $2.99 – 4.99 and most all are available for print through my publisher (FYI: yes, you can still have a publisher and be considered indie if they put out less than 5-8 titles a year).
So, back to demand—the reader has millions and millions of books to choose from. So we have a market flooded with supply and the demand which leads to purchases just will not match up. It’s not hard to figure that out when you have readers scooping up every single free book they might see along with cheap reads and simply add them to their to-be-read pile—in the pile does not a book read make. Just ask KU which only pays after a percentage of pages is read. But that’s a topic for another day.
So here I am, with a book that I have to toss in that huge supply and I just really hope that those readers swimming through the ocean of books sees mine. Now here comes the reason for the title of this post—The Have or the Have Nots.
I received so much help with my first book. I was a new author just trying to build a fan-base and get my name out there. I was luckier than many—I had written on social media for a couple of years and it was that experience that led to my creating my short story book, Bits & Pieces. It was a collection of my past stories and poetry as a thank you to my fans for their encouragement. But there I was, new to the indie market and so many were able to help, hold my hand and give me advice. But that was then…
In the few short years since that title dropped, the indie world has become a harsh and cruel place. The supply resources have been poisoned with reviews as weapons and some street teams as hateful armies. Authors have become more closed in and trying to stay under the negative radar. Others have become a bit selfish and while they smile to your front, they are envious and jealous behind your back. They seem to think that if you’ve had some success (and I have on some levels in the fact all my titles still have weekly sales, even years after release) or you seem to be “known” in this wide diverse publishing world, you either need no help or don’t want any help. I can’t answer for other “successful” authors, but I know I would love to have some help and could always need any I could get. Yes, I have a great fan base. Yes, I’ve been in a few magazines and newspapers. Yes, I do signings. Yes, I’ve done some radio. Yes, I have some sales. Yes, I am not a success.
Wait, what was that? Yep. I said it. While I still get a nice little royalty check every month from all the sale venues, I am by no way a success. I’m not sure if any one author can say they are a success and will never need the help of others—if they do think that? They really need to evaluate their value as an author. Without readers, fans, blogs and others—it doesn’t matter how successful you perceive you are, without them, you’ll get a real reality check eventually. Especially when you find you get no check in the form of money. And that goes for the “big names.”
I’m not what you would call an unheard author but I definitely am not considered a known author in the big wide world. I’m kind of in the middle. That middle class of the writing world. Am I happy about that? Of course, because I’ve worked damn hard to be in that middle. Do I wish I wasn’t?
Yeah, I do.
I miss the days when so many people were so outpouring with help and thought of me as “one of them”. The days when I would share something on my wall, whether it be a teaser or excerpt, and then be in awe to see it spread throughout the news feed. So full of happiness to be a part of the indie world with so many wonderful, like-minded people that encouraged and inspired. Now I am perceived as being a success so they don’t think I need it. Or the worst train-of-brain: they resent and are jealous of the success they think I have. So, they just don’t offer. Oh sure, they love when I share their stuff but do I always get that same effort back? No. I really don’t. And it both hurts and pisses me off.
I work a very stressful and demanding job. Sure, my writing was a huge factor in being given that job but it is by no means “fun for me” writing. I work some days 12-16 hours, sometimes Monday through Sunday and so stressed that I recently made a trip to the hospital to learn I had developed heart problems from the stress of my routine. Toss in there helping out family, writing books, helping run a publishing company, mentoring other authors, blogging, social media, running a large and wonderful fan-fiction writing group and maybe sleeping and eating in there somewhere, I need HELP.
But I’m no longer getting the same help now as I did when I was shiny and new. And it makes me sad. It also makes me wonder why I even bother sharing anything from others. I don’t have many hours in my day to do my own, much less others, yet time and time again, I post things to be shared and with the exception of a few wonderful peeps that I consider close friends or my street team (thank you as always), I see nothing in return. It’s like the time I spend cruising through the news feed to find other’s items to share for them, is wasted time on my part. Why do I do it, if I get nothing in return? And it’s not just news feed sharing—it’s in so-called “support groups”. I have completely lost faith in those. It’s become like high school all over again. You’re either in the cool kids’ clique or you’re not. It sad because I joined those groups in hopes of finding support, encouragement, a mutual share mentality to help all and every time, it falls short.
I admit, I sound cynical and well, it’s because I have become a hardcore cynic through this all. I’m considered too “successful” for some and on the other hand, I’m unknown to others. I’m frustratingly riding in the center of a dead zone of help beyond the true encouragers in my life. And this applies to all areas of the business—some models seem to be told about my books and learn I’m not a best seller and not interested. Some blogs don’t have time to help me because they are focusing on more “reader demand” authors like the big names or don’t even reply at all (to those that have continued to be open and wonderful, let me say thank you, thank you, thank you, here). I’ve actually had a few blogs tell me they are focusing on new authors…
Sigh. I used to be one of those once.
So, what am I, Jas T. Ward going to do with this roller coaster of highs and lows and lines either too long or too short? With Lust, I’m moving to using a PR company to promo my book—set up blogs, reviews and teasers. I will of course hope to see others share what I post on my walls and such, but I am no longer counting on it, which makes me sad. I miss being new and shiny. That feeling of being a part of something wonderful and warm surrounded by peers that had the mentality of they had not, so we have not, so let’s all do more. It’s not that world anymore. And to be honest, I fear it never will be again. Too many of us have become either too scared, too selfish or desperate for our book to swim to the top in a supply that is flooding the shores of demand, without enough swimmers on the sand—some have just become sharks. Others just give up swimming.
Yes, we are now a community of the haves or have not mentality and that, fellow authors, readers and more—is the saddest part of it all.
AUTHOR JAS T. WARD
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jas-T.-Ward/e/B00CJO70A8/