Write a book – you’ve got to be kidding

I love writing in all its forms: blogs, articles, books, etc.  However, the statistics for choosing this as a career are dismal.  One in four Americans does not read one book per year.  Over 200,000 new books were published last year.  Average book sales for a Christian book put out by a major publisher are about 4,000 copies.  AuthorSolutions reports that sales of their self-published titles average about 150 copies each.  The average sales overall for a book published in America is about 500.  Yes, sales of eBooks is growing.  But if you think that technology is eliminating “real” books you’ll be interested to know that eBooks comprised about 4% of the overall dollars ($23.9 billion) in book sales in 2009.

Garrison Keillor recently commented on the sustainability of the publishing industry, in the Chicago Tribune:  “I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea.  We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (UR2 1derful)…The future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives.  Average annual earnings:  $1.75.”

If you care about statistics and averages, the information above is enough to discourage and redirect anyone.  But what if writing is your passion?  Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol hit the #1 spot last year at 5,543,643 copies sold.   Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue sold 2,674,684 copies.  Obviously, there are still some amazing opportunities in writing books.  Have you identified why your book should be written?

I currently have six book projects in the works.  I can’t imagine doing anything else that I would enjoy as much – or that could bring me more success.  The bad news doesn’t discourage me but it does remind me that I must write with excellence – as success in any area requires.

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10 Responses to “Write a book – you’ve got to be kidding”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Great post Dan, and you are right, the statistics are rather bleak. What I like to share with our customers is that you want to be in the information business – where you are marketing solutions, training, courses, manuals, etc…and not just books.

    What I mean by that is that people buy non-fiction books largely to solve problems (get out of debt, start a business, overcome a health challenge, repair a relationship, reduce stress, etc…) or to fulfill a passion or desire (cooking, history buff, hobbies, etc…) and so the better writers of non-fiction can be at helping their audience get the result they want, the more sales and value people will see in their product.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  2. Glenda Says:

    Hi Dan,
    I’m called to writing and photography as a ministry and profession. I’ve been sending out creative writings to a small list of individuals and the list is growing slowly. I’ve never had anyone unsubscribe intentionally. I consider this a good sign.

    I’ve been working on a book, which I believe is in its timing, but I’m not sure if this is a ministry activity or a professional endeavor, I just know it needs to be done. How I put it out there depends on the cost investment and how it is printed. EBooks would allow me to go full-color with photos, which is a huge plus.

    I was thinking about starting a blog, where I post a new writing, along with a picture if applicable. I have one writing that came to me today that was inspired by a photo and they work hand-in-hand.

    I was thinking that blogging would be a way to at least get a better feel for how my work is received on whole. It seems that bloggers are people who want to comment, so I would get more feedback. My thoughts were I could have an Ebook for download and purchase, for those individuals who like my new writings and want to see what I’ve written in the past. The other benefit to an EBook is that I don’t have enough material to publish what I see as a full-size book.

    Do you recommend this as a way to test the market? My only concern is that I receive the writing sporadically, and I’ve been told that when you blog you really need to keep it consistent. I suppose I could step out and see if that increases the anointing.

  3. Dan Miller Says:

    Glenda – yes, blogging is a wonderful way to test ideas and to build an audience. And yes, you need to be consistent. If you want to be recognized as a writer, don’t wait until you “receive” the writing. Sit down and start writing – you receive inspiration and guidance as you’re doing it.

  4. Josh Bulloc Says:

    Dan,

    As you have said before, writing the book is is just 2% of the process.

    This post made me think of something somewhat related. Considering that many people are not willing to read even if it will help them change their lives; some time in the future we may not have to read. We may be able to download the information into our brain like on the Matrix. Will people still not “download” the information once the work was taken out of it?

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO

  5. ale Says:

    dan brown is a horrible writer. cant figure out why he is so popular.

  6. Jason Garey Says:

    Maybe Dan Brown is popular because he writes on topics of extreme intrigue and controversy. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration, Dan.

  7. Glenda Powers Says:

    Thanks Dan,
    I knew a while back that I needed to set aside a night during the week to write consistently, and since I seem to have more writing energy on Friday I knew that should be the night…Even though I write more on Friday than any other time, I didn’t answer the call to do that consistently.

    I think I was feeling as if I write more often that I wouldn’t be sure that it is divine. I like that feeling I get when I know I’m on a specific appointment. I guess I was limiting the process.

    Now that I setup the blog, I’m committed a night during the week to sit down and write.

    http://altz.wordpress.com/

  8. Wendy Staas Says:

    I am currently writing a book that I feel the Lord desires me to write. I plan to send you a copy. It will be an e-book due to lack of cost for writer and buyer. You will understand soon!! Can’t wait to show it to you 🙂

  9. David Hooper Says:

    These stats take into account the industry as a whole, but you can knock off about 98% of the self-published stuff because it’s junk and/or is never promoted. Same for the major house stuff in that part of the business model is to throw everything out there, see what sticks, and put money behind it.

    You don’t need to be Dan Brown or Sarah Palin (she didn’t write that book, by the way), to be successful in the book business. You do need to get out and make things happen though. Books, like anything, don’t sell themselves.

  10. Should I write my book? | Rochester Media Says:

    […] Here is an excerpt from best-selling author Dan Miller’s blog: […]

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