Well, for starters, you and I write them. And we are complete non-entities in this ever-growing sea of self-published authors. I must tell you why I’m writing this piece. A newly published author in a facebook group I belong to, was expressing his frustration at his e-book not selling to his expectations. A familiar story, you’d agree.
So I told him we are all in the same sea and all we can do is just keep writing as many books as we can; make sure the stories are well thought out, well written, proof-checked, and properly formatted; advertise, get the word around and leave the rest to the Universe.
I told him that I have written a short story collection, two children’s story, (with 50% of the proceeds going to elephant conservation as the main character is a baby elephant), a ‘how-to’ book on creating an e-commerce website, and another short story. I have advertised on facebook, Google Adwords, Bing and posted on my facebook status page. I put them up at all the major e-tailers, and created a dot com website from which people could buy direct. Let me tell you, I am not laughing all the way to the bank yet. It’s still at a frown stage, hopefully, it will crease into a smile, then widen into a maniacal laughter at which point the security guard at my bank might want to check my sanity before letting me in.
The point is, we are writers. And like a lot of the now-famous authors say about the days before stardom sought them out to the bestseller list, a writer writes, no matter what. Stephen King wrote in a trailer park. Ray Bradbury on borrowed typewriters in local libraries. Joseph Heller took eight years to write the masterpiece Catch 22 which was ironically rejected 22 times. You should read the list of famous rejection letters if you want inspiration.
The reason we must keep writing, is that it’s unwise to stop at one. Even if it gets picked up by the publishers in a freak coincidence, what next? Are you going to say, ‘Sorry, I could only do one?’ So the more you have, the better the chances of selling. At least people checking out your profile on social media and e-tailers might be impressed enough to try one of your offerings, and if they like it, they might even buy more.
Like someone said, there are two situations in life: one where you can control and another where you can’t. And in the latter scenario, the only thing you can do is control how you react to them. Tearing your hair out, getting frustrated and yelling out the window will not help. It might give temporary relief, but, in the long term, it will drag you down.
Another anecdote comes to mind, about this student who was impatient to learn the art of sword fighting from a Zen master. Student asks the master how long it would take him to be good at it. Master says ten years. Student says he doesn’t have that much time and that he needs to learn quickly. To which the master says in that case it will take twenty years.
One last dip into the philosophical river to shore up the morale. It’s from the Bhagavad Gita, Song of the Lord, a sacred Hindu text (part of the epic Mahabharata), where Lord Krishna, Bhagavan, tells Arjuna the reluctant warrior that his duty is to fight and leave the fruits of it to Him. The essence of it was expressed in the Rober redford movie titled the Legend of Bagger Vance with Will Smith playing Bagger Vance (Bhagavan) and Matt Damon the reluctant golfer was R.Junuh (Arjuna).
So keep writing and let the sales happen as and when. If we focus on the writing, the rest will take care of itself.