Just 1 in Over 1 Million New Books
Now that I’ve published Book 2 in the MY JOB series, can I tell you what it’s really like to write, publish, and promote a book?
Everyone asks me, “When are you going on tour?” as if I were a rockstar. People think writing a book seems so glamorous. Meanwhile:
- 81 percent of Americans (that’s 200 million) say they wish to write a book. And a lot of them DO . . .
- 2.2 million books are published worldwide each year, over 1 million in the U.S. alone.
- However, only 1 percent of those ever even make it onto the shelf of any bookstore or sell more than 250 copies.
The writing process feels like running uphill with a backpack full of stones, and editing aches like a thousand days of final exams in a row. You work invisibly (mercifully, that is: trust me, you don’t want to see my scraggly hair and worn out black yoga pants, gulping too much coffee, me working late into the night and then pacing around, worried about typos, unable to sleep) and thanklessly (most authors work for a pittance or for free).
Why Would Anyone Want To Write a Book?
So why would anyone be loco enough to try to write a book?
If you have words pulsing through you and your internal thoughts just naturally arrange themselves into metaphors and sentences, then you must write. If you agonize over the process but rejoice as if you won the Mega Millions when you complete a project and hit “send” (and that’s key–having someone, somewhere, to send your writing to, that keeps you tethered to this world and feeling as if your writing might do something decent out there), then you have to write in order to live.
If you’re lucky you get cheered on by family and friends, and if your coworkers who transcribe interviews or keep you on-task believe so fiercely in your book and narrators that you just have to follow through.
And then in my case, many of the MY JOB narrators have direct connections to our job-creation partners–and I want to shout their heroic stories from any mountaintop–and every dollar of author proceeds from both books is donated to job-creation programs to end poverty. Somehow, it’s become my mission, or dharma, to:
- Share stories of unsung heroes working courageously to change the world
- Create connection between readers and narrators from vastly different life experiences, and
- Fund jobs with 100% author-royalty donations.
So, not only do I need to write these books; I need to get out there and peddle them!
The Romantic Notion of “Going on Tour”
Unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, or a major celebrity, the “storied” book tour has become a thing of the past (see more in this piece in The Atlantic). More likely, you’ll stay at that desk to which your backside has become rooted, and spew out blogs like this one, and try in vain to stay present and clever on social media.
“The author has become the entrepreneur,” writing teachers say; and all that means is that selling books has become SO competitive (whether print, audio, or kindle) that it doesn’t financially behoove any media platform or bookstore manager to fly you hither and yon.
The Real-Life Book Tour Can Be Pretty Fun, Too
Clearly, you’re out there on your own. However, this time around–after the March publication of Book 2–I determined to have some fun. How, you ask?
Global book signing
So many copies of MY JOB: More People at Work Around the World with my signature (and usually a little love note) have shipped out from my small-town California post office that the staff thought I was running a bookselling business. Well, perhaps I am . . . Signed books have landed in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and from sea to shining sea here in America–from the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia to the rolling surf of Orange County, California.
Since I couldn’t physically get to all those places to sign books, I added the place where the book went below my name: “Jeffersonville, KY;” “Cambridge, MA;” “Green Bay, WI.” Just like dandelion seeds, those little book babies blew far afield.
Virtual podcast and media tour
Tapping my connections and hiring the nonfiction-book-release experts at Smith Publicity for just a few precious months, I hit the circuit from the safety of my home desk.
Surrounded by copies of my books and “talking points” notes I’d spent hours crafting, I jumped on calls for interviews and podcasts with anyone who’d listen. And despite feeling depleted as a writer, I pushed on to pen blogs and articles on the need for dignified jobs to provide wellbeing and social connection, equality and self-determination.
As I pondered the power of jobs from every angle–physical, psychological, social, and spiritual–I realized how much we all need jobs, not just for the paycheck, but for the purpose. Pulling together articles about “job stories” also caused me to synthesize the many lessons learned in my past several years’ labor on this project.
More to come in the weeks to follow, as these kind media outlets publish our features . . .
Planes, trains, and automobiles
Finally, I’ve just returned from a series of visits by plane, train, and automobile (that’s my awesome sister Sally driving on the right) to combine visits to family members in the U.K., Ohio and New York, friends and my alma mater in Massachusetts, and video and community television book-interviews in three states. Not only did I have my very nurturing sisters–Sally, Shelly, and Sylvia–there to hold my hand and calm my nerves, but I ended up having a great time visiting places and people I adore.
Along the way, I realized that most of the folks who interviewed me are also doing what they do because of an inner vision to create art and connect people; and talking with them left me elated, grateful, and a bit more trusting that most human beings care deeply about our world and each other.
Videos to come when they’re published . . .
The World Needs Books, Readers, and REVIEWERS!
The modern book tour, like so much else in life, becomes what you make of it. If you’re an author, please keep the faith: The world needs good books as much as we need beloved children. Pop over to our Facebook page and tell us what you do to take yourself on a 21st-century book tour.
Our narrators and I can’t get anywhere without your help.
Reviews and referrals are the only way books get sold. Please use your superpower!
Thanks for all your support — Suzanne