Fewer people should be writing books

According to Jordon Cooper:

Bill [Kinnon] has a wonderful post on writing.  The entire thing is worth reading but this one got me thinking. “In 2004, Nielsen BookScan tracked the sales of 1.2 million books and found that nine hundred and fifty thousand of them sold fewer than ninety-nine copies.”

So we are looking at author royalties of a couple hundred bucks and a couple of conference speaking gigs.  In the end is it worth the effort?

Bill’s prescription to the cure is to write better stories and he is dead on correct (although writing stories is harder than it sounds, check out this editorial review from Amazon.com)…[Jordan laments the poor quality of most of the books he is asked to review.]

…My suggestion for a lot of writers is not to bother writing a book period.  Forget the conferences, forget the interviews on Christian radio, forget the church basement book signings.  Instead throw your efforts into whatever it is that you are good at.  Chances are your ideas are intrinsically linked to your personality and your context and not as transferable as you would think…

…is the time away from doing what you do well or time away from learning something that you don’t do well, worth 1000 book sales and $5,000 in royalties?  Is the mini-book tour worth it?  Is the time spamming your friends worth it? What about moderating message boards on infrequentbooksales.com, and trying to get people to fan you on Facebook worth it?

Thirdly, is giving the copyright of you idea to your publisher worth it?  Especially in the church I don’t know why we don’t see more writers open sourcing their content.  If you believe your idea came from the Holy Spirit, does turning that over to FOX (though Zondervan) seem to be the best course of action?  If you want to publish at least consider negotiating so your book is published under a Creative Commons license.

I have heard Michael Slaughter of Ginghamsburg talk about writing being the best way to influence people and in some ways he is right but as Bill Kinnon pointed out, is less then 100 copies influencing anyone other than your closest friends?..Most of it is regurgitated stuff and doesn’t need to see the light of day again.  Maybe the best use of our time would be coming up with some new ideas, instead of repackaging some old ones.

Read Jordan’s whole post: Bill Kinnon on Writing and follow the links. [HT: Scot McKnight’s Weekly Meanderings. This past week, Scot linked to a similar sentiment CSM]

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5 thoughts on “Fewer people should be writing books

  1. Simon says:

    Fewer people should be writing comments.

  2. Tim Bulkeley says:

    No! More people should be writing comments, fewer using dead trees to feed their egos 😉

  3. David Ker says:

    Blogging is better for the ego (and your writing skills) and less harmful to the environment.

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