“One of the largest barriers to becoming a successful writer is trying to be a perfect writer.”
This is something that rang a bell with me because it is a thought I have been trying to convey in many of my posts. The plain and simple truth of self-publishing is that the vast majority of books will not be a success: at best they will have modest sales. Therefore, if your goal is to actually sell books, spending years and years writing one will just not cut it. The only business paradigm that makes sense in self-publishing for the average author is to build the “long tail.” What is that?
The long tail is the concept that you can derive a substantial amount of profit from selling items that don’t sell much as long as you sell enough of them. Imagine that you write two books a year (and nowadays many people will tell you that anything less than that is “slacking”). In five years you will have accumulated 10 books. If each book sells say 40 copies a year, then your ten books are selling a combined 400 copies per year. On the other hand if you write one book every 5 years and it also sells 40 copies a year… get my drift?
Another thing to remember is that the success of a book does not depend only on how good it is. Rewriting a book over and over to make it better will not necessarily make it sell more. The success of a book is part art and part voodoo. Nobody has a formula that works reliably. The reality, again, is that most books will not “catch on” and sell like hotcakes no matter how well written they are. Of course we hope that every now and then we will write a book that sells exceptionally well, and having this hope is fine. But the chances that this will happen will be increased if you write a large number of books.
Finally there are two more considerations. The first one is that each book that you write counts as advertisement that will make you better known among potential readers. The second is that if the tenth book you write hits the big time, your readers will want to read more. Having nine more books on your shelf for them to buy is a great advantage. On the other hand if you only have that one book you will have, as the surfers say, “missed the wave.”
So put all of the above together and what do we have?
Self-publishing favors the prolific writer.
And this goes back to what Kristen wrote. You are doing yourself a disservice by trying to be perfect. Yes you read that correctly. The important thing is for you is to put out those books. Do not, of course, interpret this as a license to be sloppy. Clearly your writing needs to have a certain level of competence, but the take home message is: don’t let perfection slow you down. This is even more justifiable if you publish e-books, which can easily be modified (in case a reader points out a mistake) and republished in no time at all.
For many the above is not easy. I myself tend to be one of those “perfectionists.” I get really annoyed when someone finds a mistake I missed. Couple this with the fact that I don’t write very fast and that I don’t have a lot of time for writing, and you see how this is a problem for me. But I am trying my best to be more imperfect because it’s the road to success!
Are you imperfect or trying your darnest to be imperfect? Please leave a comment and let us know.
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