Friday, August 24, 2007

Straight Talk from Robin Jay, Author of THE ART OF THE BUSINESS LUNCH

Ah ~ another chance to share my opinion with the fabulous world of writers! I’m in the mood for some tough love (dishing it out, that is), so here we go.

Do NOT let the snobs of the literary world make you feel inadequate for pursuing your craft in any way you can. I just read PG Forte’s blog post about writing e-books in which she shared that basically she doesn’t feel appreciated by the literary snob world because she writes e-books. Hey, she’s getting fan mail – how bad can her writing be?

She wrote, “E-books are convenient, fast, cheap and environmentally friendly.” Sounds to me like a lovely way to write. I have to confess: when I was trying so desperately to sell my book, I would walk through Barnes & Noble and look at some of the titles on their shelves. I would shake my head and wonder how THOSE books got sold! I didn’t believe I saw ANY title that was any better than mine!

I was always amazed that publishers and agents could find the value in some of those dreadful titles, but they couldn’t see how important MY book, “The Art of the Business Lunch” was going to be! What a difference a day makes. My book is now in ten languages worldwide because my friend knew some agents and the agent I chose knew a publisher and my publisher saw the value in it. (I SWEAR I didn’t sleep with anyone to get this book deal! But having contacts DOES help. That is the world in which we live.) My publisher made an offer for my book, on the condition that I would DOUBLE the word count. I pounded out the new manuscript in eight weeks, doubling the work that had taken me two years to write. Interestingly enough, a little validation goes a long way. My writing improved dramatically. Those pages I wrote while “under the gun” came fast and furious. Today I write better than I ever did before.

Am I rich yet? Not hardly. Not off the book, anyway! But I am a traditionally published author now. As a professional speaker, that lends tremendous credibility, which is why I was so determined to sell my book. And, you might enjoy knowing that I originally self-published my book. I still have hundreds of that edition in my garage if you want one to compare. Just pay me for shipping and it’s yours for free. My publisher made me pull it once we inked a deal.

Here are some interesting stats, according to an article by Chris Anderson in the July 17 issue of Publishers Weekly, in 2004:

• 950,000 titles out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies
• Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies
• Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies
• The average book in America sells about 500 copies
• Only 10 books sold more than a million copies
• Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000
• Nearly 200,000 new titles are published each year

Now, am I the only one who can see that if fewer than 25,000 books ever sold more than 5,000 copies, fewer than 500 ever sold more than 100,000 copies, and 950,000 titles sold fewer than 99 copies, that a writer shouldn’t feel badly if the acquisitions editors don’t choose their work?

The literary world is unlike any other. A great book like Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” comes along and becomes the biggest success in years. Staples like Nora Roberts, Stephen King and John Grisham keep their publishers and agents happy. And the rest? From what I can tell, well, I guess I can’t tell much.

I just want you, yes YOU, a writer who loves to write, who is studying their craft and is writing every day - even when you don’t feel like it, I want YOU to relax, tell yourself what a great job you’re doing and take a break. Please don’t let this weird world of publishing get you down. Writers have never had more options than now – for writing, publishing, and distribution. Congratulations

Robin Jay

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