Road to Joy or Road to Nowhere?

Recently, one of the wonderful Writers’ Digest editors, Jane Friedman (follow her on twitter @janefriedman), shared the following statistic from Book Expo America, which she was attending: “7 % of books published generate 87% of book sales and 93% of all published books sell less than 1,000 copies each.”

For a writer, those are sobering statistics.  Translated, this means “don’t quit your day job.”  Yet, we writers are a stubborn sort of group.  Thousands, maybe millions of us, keep chasing the dream.  Sure, I’d love to make money from my writing and I pray I will some day — I have FAITH that I will some day — but I know that I couldn’t stop writing if I tried whether it ever brings a dollar into our household kitty or not.

So I’ll keep writing, but I’ll also keep taking the ACTIONS that convert FAITH to RESULTS. How does a writer break out of the pack?  There is boundless advice on this topic out on the interwebs.  I won’t pretend expertise.  I will share my strategy, however.  Those that frequent this blog know I am never shy about sharing!

1.  Write well, write often (one of the reasons Road to Joy exists) — And enter contests. . . I learned today that I am a finalist with Leaving Annalise in the Writers’ League of Texas annual Manuscript contest, and I am fired up about it.

2.  Work hard and never give up — maybe that should have been #1

3.  Pursue the “credibility” of traditional publishing for my fiction –I have an agent reviewing the full manuscript for Going for Kona right now on exclusive, and I am working on a zippy revision of Leaving Annalise for her which she already reviewed on exclusive — this is a huge and wonderful development!  I can’t wait for Writers’ League of Texas Conference in June.

4.    Build an audience, pre-publication (another reason for Road to Joy) — see above graph of “trend line” for hits on Road to Joy in its first two months of existence — thank you! thank you!!  Consider a “like” click for me on Facebook, too.  Or a “follow” on Twitter.

5.  Collect email addresses of those that have an interest in my writingHelp a writer out…there are two ways to sign up to hear from me, both appear on the right column of this blog.  At the top, you can enter your email address to receive this blog to your email inbox.  Further down the column, you can enter your address for my private e-blast for quarterly e-newsletters.  Please consider signing up.

Recently, I stumbled across a cool experiment in creating success for unknown, little-purchased writers, called “The Author Effect.”  Catherine McKenzie (follow on twitter @cemckenzie1), herself a published author of note from Canada, has launched a group page on Facebook, “I bet we can make these books bestsellers.” Her goal is to create an Oprah-like effect for unknown writers with a grassroots effort.  Her first “project” is an author named Shawn Klomparens (follow on twitter @sklompar) whose books are rocketing up the ranking as a result of the group’s support.  Check it — and Shawn — out.  I’ve read both his books (Two Years No Rain, and Jessica Z), and they are wonderful.

I love this community concept, so let me make you an offer.  Writer friends, dreamer friends: let me know how I can help you.  Need advice on a blog?  Want an opportunity to guest publish on Road to Joy?  Do you have content you’d like to request I link to? Do you have a query letter, synopsis, short story, or excerpt you’d like me to read or critique?  Would you like to just commiserate together on our efforts?

It’s a daunting journey for us.  Let’s join forces on our road to the joy of the writing life.

Good luck, all.