As soon as the dream of making riches as a writer fades from public consciousness (and Stephen King quits featuring bestselling writers as characters), then only a peculiar, suspect group will still be writing. For every Joe Konrath, there are 100,000 people selling a book a week or one a month. I have books ranked all up and down the scale so I have a pretty good idea of what a ranking equals in total sales. The trouble is that right now 100,000 people are reading Konrath and thinking that’s going to be them.
Honestly, all those who fear the indie onslaught just need to wait a few years. 10 million slush manuscripts will be pulled from the drawer and sell nothing. Trend over.
About the same number of writers will be making a living then as now. But some of them will be different writers. Some of them will be selling ads. Some of them will do whatever it takes to be a writer and make it work. I went three years with no book deals. I lost faith in the system but never myself, and I wrote some of the best books of my life on only the dimmest of prospects. My best-selling book was never meant to be published. It was survival. I survived.
I just picture those Soviet dissidents in Siberia, scrawling classics on frozen animal skins in beet juice. Renoir, crippled with arthritis, his legacy made, but still cranking them out from his wheelchair. Socrates drinking poison instead of pleasing the crowd.
Now, this new way of subsidizing a book may not be as blatant as popping up a nice cold refreshing Mountain Dew video when you scroll over “soft drink” in the text (though books will soon be more interactive and smarter about what we like and what can be sold to us), but clearly someone is going to have to pay a writer enough to make the work worth the effort and keep the price at whatever the consumer is willing to pay.
Instead of saying I will never do something, I now say “What hasn’t been created yet, and how can I get to it first, and how can we share it?”
I’m already exploring ways to promote other people’s books in a variety of ways. If you’re interested in talking with me about promoting in my books, drop me an email at hauntedcomputerbooks at Yahoo and let’s brainstorm, or kick it around in the comments.