Since I was a kid I wanted to be a writer. I hardly knew what it meant then, and even after being first published 4 years ago, I’m just beginning to realize what being a writer really means.
The truth is, very few writers are superstars of the J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown sort. And in today’s publishing industry, the vast majority of the money is made by a handful of titles by bestseller writers, so the majority of the marketing money is spent there.
According to Bowker, nearly 300,000 titles are being published in the U.S. every year. If only a handful are being extensively marketed, that leaves several hundred thousand titles every year in the midlist, treading water.
Of course, with online stores like bn and Amazon, there is a lot that writers can do to boost their exposure on their own. There’s the whole “long tail” effect for one, and most writers now have a blog where readers can find them and their work and with working links to purchase their books. While it doesn’t compare to a publisher’s marketing dollars, it’s more than writers had in their arsenal a scant few years ago. Additionally, writers can book themselves at conferences and bookstores for signings, and do school visits.
The writing life is completely different than I’d imagined when I was a kid looking through my favorite picture books, or even just a few years ago when my debut novel hit the shelves. In a given day, I’m may be doing some amount of actual story writing; composing emails/blog posts; networking; researching for stories, both fiction and non-fiction; reading other writer’s blogs; responding to email, blog posts and chat on social networking sites; reading.
I used to think it was bleak, but I’ve found a great community of writers out there, happily building their careers. It’s the usual kind of career building in a seemingly unusual career. And while being a literary superstar is awesome, being a midlist doesn’t suck at all. In fact, the midlist is where I’m getting my legs along with thousands of other hardworking writers.
The midlist does indeed rock.