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The single largest issue with the book industry is that readers are deluged with mostly mediocre work by a myriad of self-published writers.

How is an author to know if they are any good? Readers flock to receive free books, seemingly addicted to free reading, and move on to get more, no matter how much they enjoyed the read, and never leaving reviews. Traditional publishers are no longer able to find and sign excellent authors among the millions of pedestrian writers on the market, and it seems as though they aren’t all that interested anyway, unless the work is from a celebrity.

I have sold and given away thousands copies of my books 1 and 2 (with only a few dozen reviews left on Amazon), spent a ton of cash building a mailing list and countless hours creating and sending out newsletters and notices. Even with a 4+ stars rating on Amazon for each of them, my books don’t sell without a ton of marketing. After publishing seven novels in six years, I still only make about 10% more than I spend on advertising.  Think about that — on spending $500 and dozens of hours on marketing and ads, I make $50. I have cut that back with the expected results. I have used all the latest independent publisher tricks — promoting my newsletter, Kindle giveaways, book funneling, auto-posting social ads, and others — and Social media is mostly filled with authors connecting with other authors, or with companies selling book promotion services. What we really need are readers.

I am going to write and publish book 8 of my Pat Ruger Mystery Series in the next year or so, and I’ll continue to send out hopefully interesting newsletters, though I have even cut those back. But I feel hopeless that the market will ever come around for me.  After book 8, I will have to decide what comes next.  Will I finally be able to carve out a successful niche in the mystery genre, or should I devote my time to RV- and travel-related magazine articles?  How much time and money should I spend to promote my work?  Should I see what genres are selling and abandon my modest mystery reader base or continue to tell the stories I want to tell?  What if I’m just not that good, no matter what my loyal fans say?

I am saddened by this industry, but it’s not like it was ever easy.  Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times before it was published, and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times.  Even Harry Potter was rejected. But now it’s an impossibility to land a book contract unless you are already famous (or have a million Instagram, YouTube or TikTok followers).

It’s not entirely the publishers’ fault — there are just too many amateur writers to consider for publication. And, thus, my lament.

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