Lately I’ve noticed that when I tell someone I’m an author, but that no, my books don’t make enough to support me financially, I’m met with silence. I suppose their looks are pitying too. To them, if I’m an author and I’m not making a lot of money, then I must be a failure. On top of that, my books aren’t worldwide best sellers, so I must be just an eccentric with a delusional affliction.
To some, I explain that to be a best seller, one need to have the right marketing tools, a lot of money, or, if the author is lucky, get a movie adaptation. In fact, I can testify to a lot of books I read who could easily turn into best sellers if they were only marketed right. The same, sadly, is also true – meaning I’ve read best sellers that are hardly worthy of the title.
For one, a few years ago, there was this bestselling trilogy by Amanda Hocking called The Trylle trilogy. There was so much talk around it, naturally, I couldn’t help but pick up the first book.
My first impression was that my draft – before the editing – sounded much better. Biased that I am, I put my thoughts aside, aware that a lot of books I read had unappealing beginnings. But it wasn’t just that the beginning was dull, but the characters were 2D, the language boring, the dialogue flat, not counting all the blatant typos. I can’t, in good conscience, mention the plot because I never got around to deciphering it, or even if there was one. Her books sold so many copies, She eventually signed a multi-million dollar deal with St. Martin’s Press.
But before I knew that last tidbit, and after I realized my draft was much better than this already published, bestselling book, I did what any other person in my situation would do: I googled the author’s name with the question why was she a best seller. And surprise, surprise, google provided me with so many links that I realized just by scanning the headlines that I wasn’t the only one confused with the success.
One of the many articles google provided me said “She’s a case of good luck and the right place at the right time” – https://jessicameigs.com/2011/06/07/on-amanda-hocking-and-self-publishing/
The opposite of Amanda Hocking, I dare say, is Deborah Harkness. The first book, a discovery of Witches, was a best seller when it was released in 2011, but when I read it in 2014 after the final book in the trilogy was released, the books had only a few thousand reviews. The rave reviews came around a few years later when the books were turned into a TV series. Now, around nine years after its release, the book has more than 300K reviews
So then I’m asked, why not send your books to Hollywood?
Hmmm. I’d like to point out the ignorance in that question, but then I remember the days when I too, believed all I needed was to type my thoughts on a page and send a copy off directly to the publisher, and another to Hollywood. Of course, I knew not every book was picked up by a publisher, I was aware there were rejections, but then again, I was also of the mind that I had created a masterpiece and no one would turn it down.
Again, to some, I explain it isn’t as simple as it sounds, and again, I’m met with pity, because, if I’m not making a lot of money, I’m just deluding myself. That could be true to a degree, but the simple task of creating characters and building a world around them makes me happy, not to count the huge sense of accomplishment that follows when the book is released. Maybe it’s a feeling only other authors and artists can relate to, and maybe only a few outside my virtual life will ever understand the feeling, but I don’t plan to give up my writing, even if I never become a bestselling author.