If there’s no money in writing & publishing, why do we do it?

There's nothing like opening a box of newly printed books. The love of stories and ideas is why we do it. Photo by Blaise van Hecke
There’s nothing like opening a box of newly printed books. The love of stories and ideas is why we do it. Photo by Blaise van Hecke

Small Press Network ran another great Independent Publishers Conference this month. It was great to get together with a roomful of writers, publishers, booksellers and library professionals. This is a unique way to look at the book world from all angles.

As we all know, the selling of books is the hardest part of the game and there was a lot of talk about publicity and marketing of books over the two days that I attended. The biggest take home for me was that everything is in the data. Thanks to digital technology, there are many ways to get data for a book out into the world. So be sure to register your book on Title Page (you must be a member of the Australian Publishers Association or Small Press Network to do this) and ensure that any online platforms have as much data as possible. Think key and tag words.

After two days of talking about how hard it is, you could start to think that being in the book game is really not worth it. Too hard. And yet, there are so many people writing books and starting up indie publishing houses. Why is this? Here are some of the things that were cited on the panel (of which I was a panellist):

  • The industry is generous. Where else can you be friends with your rivals, and share industry knowledge with each other?
  • It’s such a rewarding way to spend your work life.
  • The collaborations are fantastic.
  • We are all working to a common goal. To create great books.
  • Humans connect through story, so we feel compelled to get those stories out there.
  • Life is never dull!

And maybe we need to examine the phrase ‘no money’. What does that mean exactly? No money literally means zero and of course this is an exaggeration. To me it means that we’re not all becoming millionaires but many are making a good living from it. This is where we examine the value of working in something that we love versus working for money. I know what I’d rather be doing.

Blaise, the book chick

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