Standard Writer’s Gripes

I am working with urlink publishers to try to get the three sequels to The Bible According to Eve: The Women of the Torah published. They are:

The Bible According to Eve: Nevi’im I: The Histories: Eve in Search of Adam

The Bible According to Eve: Nevi’im II: The Seers: Eve Supplants Lilith

The Bible According to Eve: Ketuvim: Eve Struggles with God and Prevails

The irony is that The Bible According to Eve: The Women of the Torah has not really sold very well at all. Yet part of the problem is that the publisher I have–Austin Macauley–is not a big name publisher but a half-way point between commercial publishing and self-publishing. More, for self-publishing to move to a commercial venture, what usually has to happen is that you have a large fan base, i.e. lots of friends willing to sell your book for you. I am embarrassed to say I have not. I do not mean to sound ungrateful: when Austin Macauley proved interested in my poetry I was glad anyone was interested in my work at all. I even felt a tad guilty to move on to urlink publishing because as far as I could tell Austin Macauley had done everything it knew how to in order to sell my book.

I keep going on because I really believe in my books. Not all of them are religious: I am working on one called Oz Revisited as a sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for adults and I wrote one called Faust in Love about the dark side of “Donald Trump’s America” (i.e. politics). Yet I find that selling my books is an uphill battle, harder even than writing them. It is as though the big question is “Does anybody care?” about the things I have to say. It is all the more dispiriting because there are big name authors who I know get published almost regardless of whether their book is any good or not, because it will sell. I cannot find it in my heart to believe that Stephen King or Daniel Steel write their novels for anything more than money. Yet to the publishers, that selling is far more important than the quality of the book sold.

This is in contrast to a book of short stories I long to sell at grocery stores and at Walmart: Poor Folk. I really believe Poor Folk is a book that could put a mirror up to a certain class of people and ask them if the skills of literacy could help them understand their situation as below the poverty line or at least blue collar workers. Perhaps they could learn either to write about their own lives–what it is really like to be society’s neglected members, whether white or black–or at least consider focusing on educating themselves so that they don’t need that factory job they probably only work for the money anyway. One of my fears about today’s writing is that in it The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would never be written today: nobody cares about the town drunk’s son or the slave who wants his freedom (or, rather, that slave’s modern day descendent). Or almost as bad, the real Huck would never read it because it would be written in a way that he might not understand it. Has the American public really sold out that badly? Or has the American publishing industry?

The funny thing with the publishing industry: publishers will promise any amount of money to authors like Stephen King assuming (rightly, probably) that they will make huge dividends when he sells. Yet if they really thought about it, they could make more modest promises to what are called “Midlist Authors” and make just as much by giving less money but making the same amount over all by raking in a smaller amount of money on each author that sells. After all, if somebody hasn’t sold yet, you don’t have to promise anything besides royalties. There are enough hungry writers (like me) that if all a big publisher wants is a lot of money, they can say that the writer will only get a percentage of the royalties and the writer will be happy. I am not saying the writer needs to be screwed for this to work, I am saying that the average writer who won’t sell as much as Stephen King won’t demand as much money as Stephen King. And that means that overall the publisher might make just as much money if he simply gives up on Stephen King because, perhaps, he costs too much initially anyway. Besides, if they really did discover William Faulkner or Sanora Babb, wouldn’t it feel better anyway? Is everything worth doing in life measured in dollars and cents?

Anyway, I did sell what amounts to my best book, or rather what amounts to my best book series, The Bible According to Eve. It simply hasn’t been bought by very many customers… I have to keep up the faith that, somehow, it will sell before I die…

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

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