Amazon would be the answer. The math looked simple: Ebooks that he brought to market through the Big A’s self-publishing program would net him $5.59 each (since Big A’s cut of his $7.99 “cover price” would be $2.40). Bottom line: almost $30,000 a year in his pocket; the only thing he’d have to do would be sell a hundred books a week.
Plus the best part of his plan: “all without having to kowtow to industry professionals ever again.”
Maybe this is a writer with a bit of an attitude problem. For one thing, even though those “industry professionals” may sometimes tell him things he doesn’t want to hear, they really do have the same goal he does: as many readers as possible for as many books as possible. And it might have made a little more sense to see the relationship as a cooperative rather than a kowtowing one. But hey, Dave has his point of view; I have mine. So it goes.
Biddle goes on: "It's all about product. You just need to pound away every day. I was plotting my career. I was going to become a full-time writer. Finally! At 52, I was going to shove my day job of thirty years and write my ass off every single day until I died.”
Speaking personally, I think I would do hara-kiri before crapping on another writer’s dreams. So if that’s Dave Biddle’s roadmap for success, more power to him. (But I also think my support doesn’t stop me from recognizing what he’s described for what it actually is: dreams.)
As Steve Miller once famously reminded us, “Time keeps on slipping into the future.” And in Dave Biddle’s future, enough time finally slipped by that he was forced to concede: “I've been an indie author for almost three years. And I haven't made squat—yet.”
In a metaphor that makes me jealous (of the imagery though not the result), he wrote: “I feel like the Goddess of Books has been squatting over me on a cruelly random basis, relieving herself as she sees fit.” He went on to explain: “I'm embarrassed to write here that, on average, I make about $10 a month on book sales. That's two to three units sold every four weeks.”
If I should I turn the viewfinder away from Dave now and take a selfie, I see a guy in the picture with a pretty strong bias against self-deception, which poor Dave—alas!—fell serious victim to. (Of course, most of us don’t pick our biases. Maybe yours are aimed at blondes, or the Dallas Cowboys. But for those who can set their own targets on the mental firing range, lying to oneself—even little white lies—is a pretty useful one to blast away at.)
As for Dave, he was forced to confess: “It's been painful to lose my original starry-eyed optimism about the book world. . . . These days, I know how difficult it is to break out as an author.” He’s learned some lessons, he writes, the foremost of which is, “There's way too much competition.” On Amazon’s Kindle "Best Sellers" list—a tally title of almost-hysterical hyperbole—Dave’s novel, Beyond the Will of God, had only 777,028 other “best sellers” ranked above it.
“Not to mince words,” he says, “but there's a shitload of books out there for sale.” After counting up the numbers, he concludes that, “If you apply the law of supply and demand to this situation, you will feel a serious amount of Goddess pee on your head.”
So what’s an author to do? How do you:
• Make sure the book you either submit to a publisher or publish yourself is the absolute best it can be?
• And then once that best book is published by someone, get readers to fork over money to buy it?
In other words, how do you keep your head dry in the land of the incontinent Goddess? I’ll be offering some reasonably waterproof umbrellas in my next blog.