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Drowning In A Sea Of Books - Too Many Writers, Not Enough Readers?

It had to be around 2:30-ish in the morning when this mortifying thought gripped me. I was lying wide awake with a feeling of dread that loomed over me like a bad dream – or, was it a bad dream?

The fact that there are millions of writers, with hundreds joining the ranks of the writing community – not just here in America, but globally, made the prospects of being a successful writer suddenly appear, grim.

Suddenly, I no longer felt accomplished, or proud of the endless hours spent on research and re-writes I put into my books. My biggest regret; the time I spent away from my family, it suddenly made me sad. Sad, because I had missed so many fun moments in the name of writing, when it could actually turn out to be, all for naught.

Oh, yes, my thoughts were stirring and scary – they forced me to think about the white elephant in the room.

To make matters worse, later that day, I took to Amazon to browse some of the most successful writers – both indie and traditionally published, and I found myself sitting behind the computer on the verge of having a melt-down! There were indies with 35 plus books out there, and a massive following that comprised of thousands of followers – gasp! Then, there were the super writers, that somehow manage to produce a book a month – yes, I did say, a book a month!

How was I supposed to measure up to this? I asked my then despondent self, if I was crazy. There was no way I could do any of this within the near future (although I can’t predict the future, wink!) I felt like an imposter, maybe I should’ve stayed in the military, maybe I should get a typical 9 to 5 job. So many, “maybes” were swirling around in my head, I just had to walk away from the computer and sit awhile.

I was convinced that, with so many writers producing so many books, that there would surely be too many books and not enough people to read them!! (silly, but the paranoia is justified when one’s lively-hood depends on selling books.) I’m sure there are other writers who can relate to this, fear. The fear of not measuring up or being able to keep up with one’s peers.

Then, my rational side kicked in – thank goodness, she always seems to come to the rescue in the nick of time! First and foremost, I was reminded that every writer started up with just one book. However, with persistence, hard work, and love for the craft, one book can easily become 100. With many things that are worth doing, the results do not manifest overnight, and it takes discipline and dedication to stay the course. I liken writing to running a marathon. The chapters are the miles. Just as it takes persistence to make it through one chapter to the other, so does running – with every mile, one builds momentum, and keeps going not because it’s easy, but because it’s a commitment to finishing and doing one’s best. When a chapter does not turn out well, we go back and redo it, with persistence, looking at the story from a different angle. At the end of the race, the runner would have completed, 5, 20, 26 miles perhaps, tired and spent, but with a great sense of accomplishment to accompany his or her fatigue. At the end of a book that’s 20 plus chapters long, there is a sense of pride, and achievement, and the motivation to write the next book.

So, are there too many books out there – no doubt, there are a lot of books, but there are also many voracious readers who finish a book in a day! The other realization is that, no matter how many books one has published, you’re constantly going to feel compelled to compare yourself to the other writer who is doing, writing, and earning more than you are – it’s human nature to do this, we are a competitive species! Think about it, before you published your first book, can you remember how you looked on in awe at the author who was basking in the glory of publishing his or her first book? I can, and I couldn’t wait to be that writer! Now, that I have published books, and have many in the making, I set my eyes on the writers who have published ten times the number of books I have.

The moral is, there is always someone who is going to have less than, and more than you, and this can be applied to almost every aspect of life. They key, is to find your pace, be a prolific writer, but not to the point where the quality of your work suffers. As my high school chemistry teacher said to me – “Osborne, remember Rome was not build in a day!” Many years later, her words still resonate.

As indie authors, we need to know ourselves, find our focus and drown out the static. If writing is what you feel most passionate about, then go ahead and write! Don’t become discouraged by the many writers out there, remember that your aim is to attract a certain niche of readers – not the entire pool of readers out there (it would be great if you did though!) Look at it this way, there are people who you interact with daily – some like you and others who don’t– the same can be applied to your writing, some people will like your work, and others may not care for your writing. This is fine! They’ll move on, finding the author that suits them, just as you will develop your own readership.

So, fellow writers, rest assured that your persistence together with innovation will pay off. Keep creating and publishing great content because, there are millions of people who have not yet discovered your book! Happy writing!

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Sophie L. Osborne