Look at me! Hey! Over here . . . Guys?
Some kind folks at a new age festival captured my aura on their aura-cam. They gushed that it was an exceedingly auspicious aura, and they sounded sincere when they said it. They didn’t seem to be looking for money.
In truth, I was having a good day. Young women returned my smiles; small children did not retreat behind their nannies at my approach; I’d scored two free massages; and my significant other had found – to that point – comparatively little to criticize.
Maybe it was an auspicious aura.
Not every day is a good day for authors; most days our auras can be printed in monochrome, gradations of grey. Look at the odds: One million new novels are published annually in the US alone – 2,700/day. Half of these are self-published, and the average number of copies sold doesn’t reach 250. Writing a book is a losing proposition, financially and psychically. Why do we do it? Easy. We’re narcissists, shouting, “Look at me!” Those author photos, the subject oozing self-confidence and worldliness? Don’t be taken in.
Of those 1,000,000 books, almost all are bad. The ‘quality filter’ that traditional publishers boast of still allows James Patterson on the shelves. Insane, right? In fairness to James, he reportedly has distanced himself from the production end of the operation. That dreck is the work of his minions.
The only quality filter on self-published books is set by the author’s capacity for self-deception. Since this capacity appears boundless, the filter is usually inoperative, but self-published books do have one advantage: Thanks to permissive policies of CreateSpace, Nook, etc. an author can upload a revised/improved version daily and, through successive approximations, eventually grind out something readable. That assumes the author acts on constructive feedback. In contrast with the steadily improving indie book, the traditional publishers are stuck with the original, no matter how flawed, until the last remainders table has been cleared.
Despite the odds against finding a quality book, you should try to read. It’s good for you, and here’s the proof: Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health published their findings in Social Science & Medicine (a reputable journal) that people who read a book – not a periodical – for half an hour a day lived 23 months longer. We can all agree; that beats dieting and exercise.
So read. For openers, read the third and forth in my series. (Read the first and second later. Still playing the successive approximations game.) Check out the evergreens, the heavyweights, the classics, the new stuff. If only one percent of the annual production of new novels is any good, that’s 200 quality books each week. Hey! You just learned you’ve added two years to your life of quiet desperation; you have plenty of time to read.
Get to it.