Why write books?

Every author with a new book and every writer with an idea for a new book should read today’s New York Times story, “The Mommy Flak: Books That May Generate More Buzz Than Buyers.”

It summarizes so much of what I’ve been pondering lately. And what my author friends and I talk about as we wonder about our future as authors in a time when people don’t need to read books to get the ideas within them. The references to sales figures for some well known books made me a little queasy. (Sylvia Ann Hewlitt’s “Creating a Life” only sold 11,000 in hard copy and 2,000 in paperback!) It’s as if these authors were shown naked in the pages of the New York Times. {As for my own book sales, I like not knowing those numbers. When people ask me how the book is doing, I say it’s like weighing yourself when you’ve just started a diet. I’m still not ready to get on the scale.)

I continue to wonder.

Is the goal to write a book that will sell thousands or hundreds of thousands of copies? Or is it to write books that propel us into places where we attract new and higher profile outlets to express our ideas? Or something else altogether.

Lately when people call me to ask about their nonfiction book ideas, I ask them to think about what they want to be after their book comes out.

Do you want to get more clients?
Do you want to raise your profile as a writer?
Do you want to hit the bestseller lists?
Do you want to expose people to a new way of thinking?
Do you want to entertain and amuse people?

If you don’t know what you want to accomplish with your book, it’s awfully hard to know if you’ve succeeded.

Whenever I get a note from a reader telling me that my book validates their way of life, I feel like I’ve done what I set out to do. Still, it’s hard not to focus on the numbers.

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Filed under Book Promotion, HeyMarci Blog, The Heymarci Blog, Writing

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