The book statistics continue to dishearten me. A recent study of 1,007 self-published authors shows that romance authors earned 170% more than the average, while science-fiction writers earned 38% of the average, fantasy writers 32%, and literary fiction authors just 20%. Even though I’m not self-published, these figures matter because they show the trend. Most of the books that are selling are romances, and most of the selling romances are written by well-educated women in their forties. Typically, 75% of the total sales were made by 10% of the authors.
That’s good news for women who write romances, but what about the rest of us? I don’t want to write to make money — I want to make money from what I write, which is something completely different. Considering that my books are genre-benders and that most readers seem to stick with recognizable genres and story lines, it’s not surprising that my books are slow sellers. Even if I wanted to write to sell, I’m not sure I could. Chances are, if I were to start out writing a romance, it would end up being something completely different after I filtered it through my writing voice. (Whatever voice that might be.) We can only write the books that are in us. And romance novels are nothing I have any interest in, either to read or to write.
Oddly, despite what I see as a dismal book climate, I am getting interested in writing again. My work-in-pause — a tongue in cheek apocalyptic novel — is so far out of the realm of any recognizable genre that it would probably be impossible to sell. (Even my father admits that it’s weird, and he likes my books.). But I’ve concluded that selling isn’t the point of writing, at least not for me. Nor is communicating with others. (That’s what this blog is for — to communicate with others.) The point of writing is simply . . . writing. Using my brain. Creating a world that didn’t exist before. (Could that be the point of life? The creation of a world that didn’t exist before? Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a book in that idea.)
I suppose my renewed interest in writing is inevitable. I’ve been spending less time online and more time in the real world. And for me, writing takes place in the real world. Or at least the real world of my mind.