Writers, Are There Too Many of Us?

Almost everyone thinks they can write a book. In the olden days when I began writing it was way more difficult than it is now.

Before the computer you had to type on a typewriter--if you wanted a copy, you used carbon paper which had to be inserted the right way. Submitting a book to a publisher meant sending your typed copy (with no mistakes) in a box with another box inside with your address and proper postage, so if rejected the book would be sent back to you.

When it returned you hoped it would be in good shape--often though, it had coffee stains, wine stains, missing pages, and smelled like cigarette smoke. If it was too bad, the manuscript had to be retyped--you didn't send out carbon copies.

You really had to want to be a writer to spend all that time and money trying to find a publisher.

Almost everyone thinks they have a book in them--and maybe they do, but is it one anyone will really want to read?

Now it's become far too easy. Everyone who wants to be a published writer can be--just look at all the books on Amazon/Kindle. If one can't find a publisher, it can be done all by yourself.

Too many are not going through the needed process to make sure they have a good book. 

Besides writing the book, it should be read by others--people who aren't relatives and friends. A good critique group can be very helpful.

Then the book should be gone over by the author looking for errors, ways to make the writing better. In other words, rewriting. (This does not mean running the spell and grammar check. Yes, this can be useful but it isn't enough and can result in some big errors.)

Once the author feels the book is ready, it should be edited by a professional, either one the author hires or an editor at the publishing house if it has been accepted for publication.

Too many books have been published one way or another that haven't gone through any of these steps and it shows.

With so many books out there it makes it hard for the better books to rise to the surface and be found by readers.

What this has resulted in is making it all the more difficult to promote a book. Many really good books go unnoticed.

Writers today spend about half their time trying to promote their books instead of writing.

Is there an answer? Probably not. For people like me who just have to write, I'll keep on and hope that people will find my books and read them.



I don't think there are too many writers. A lot of people won't find financial success, but they will find other kinds of success, among them joy and the pleasure of touching other people. Your books will rise in any case Marilyn because they're so good. Who could ever pass them up?
Richard Brawer said…
Are there too many of us writers? I don't think so. Yes, the proliferation of books has made it harder to promote any individual book, and many books are not written or edited well.

However, there are about 200 million people over the age of 18 in the U.S. I've read that approximately one million books are published per year. That's one half of one percent of the popluation over 18 that hs written a book.

Writing is a difficult process. I give kudos to anyone who tries it.

Like anything in life, the more you practice the better you get. So someone who writes a bad book today, if theykeep trying may write a good book in the future.

Oh, by the way, that's what happened to me.

Richard Brawer
Monti said…
I don't know, Marilyn. Writing is hard; promoting is harder. I think that once many of the writers realize how difficult it is to promote, a lot of them will give up trying. The dedicated writers, like you, who have to write, will keep going.

Thanks for the post.
Mary Montague Sikes
GBPool said…
There may be a lot of people writing, but at least they are creating something. What we have a lack of are READERS. Too many people are happy to tell you that they never read. That is no different than someone who CAN'T read. That's pathetic. I taught a first grade class once that had the premise: If you can tell a story, you can write a story. If you can write a story, you can read a story. We need more readers, then we will have a market. And even a bad writer...can get better. Too many writers? Never. Write on.
Vonnie said…
Marilyn, this is a thought that crosses my mind constantly as my inbox fills with authors' marketing and advertising.

On the other hand, take the same tale and give it to seven different authors and they'll tell that tale seven different ways.

No answers!
Shalanna said…
I think that for some reason, the cool kids (you know, the ones who dictated what you had to wear at school or be beaten up, the ones who said only ONE type of music should come out of your car stereo or you will be beaten up, etc.) decided they wanted the "cachet" of having published a book. As soon as the technology was there to do this easily through self-publishing, they did it.

In other words, they took it away. They took it away from those of us who started with their parents' old Royal manual and old boxes that Strathmore bond paper came in and carbon paper and "ink erasers" (before LiquidPaper was invented by Michael Nesmith's mom). They took it away from those of us who, before we had anything interesting to say in our writing (such as in elementary school and junior high), studied English grammar, punctuation, and spelling so that our text could be flawless. They took it away from those of us who had always heard the Muse and had worked for years to perfect the craft as well as the art of writing a story/novel that not only made sense and was readable, but somehow transcended pulp fiction and resonated with readers.

So, yes, there are now too many authors. You can't get your book noticed now because those with a bunch of friends will get their friends to "vote" their books upwards and clog the channels. I realize that Cicero lamented that "everyone is writing a book," but it must be ever so much worse now.

Still, everyone deserves his or her voice to be heard. Most people who write are not doing it for money or fame. They are trying to leave something transcendent behind so that they may speak to those generations that come after. Something tangible of your mind will remain once you have crossed back over the eternal Veil.

So I can't say that I don't want all those people to write. I just wrote an inspirational post about why everyone who has the urge SHOULD write. I don't know whether it is proper for all those people to publish, especially without any vetting or editing, but I certainly don't have the power to say they shouldn't or can't.

So this is only another ambiguous answer of "I don't know," said verbosely.

By the way--I kept saying that once NICE WORK by Denise Weeks was out for the Kindle at a cheap price, it would sell copies. Well, the joke's on me: OTP's Suzi put it up for me and it went live early yesterday, and despite my posting about it everywhere, it has sold . . . ZERO copies. So make of that what you will. I don't know if anyone has picked up the free sample, even. And this is the book that WON the publisher's manuscript contest. Pretty sad for me, I'll tell you.
marja said…
As I see it, part of the problem is that because there are so many people writing now we really have to spend a lot of time promoting. And, as you said, that means we're not writing. Good post!

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