Hi friends, fans and visitors,
I was thinking yesterday about this whole publishing business we are engaged in and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the similarities between the modern day rush to be published and the great gold rushes of the early to mid 1800’s.
Upon hearing of unending wealth beyond measure, families the world over uprooted themselves and traveled across vast oceans to places like California, Alaska, Ballarat, Bendigo and many others around the world. But as fate would have it, when the men and their families settled in the shanty towns of the gold fields, instead of the wealth they had hoped for, most of them only barely scratched out a living. What small amounts of gold that were found, were quickly spent on equipment, supplies, clothing, food and anything that was left was spent on booze. It was only a small percetnage of diggers that struck it rich. For them there really were riches beyond measure, investing their earnings in properties where they settled to become wealthy land owners and farmers. But for the vast majority, they eventually gave up their dreams and returned to a life of poverty and lost opportunities.
Ironically, the ones who made a steady income weren’t the miners at all, but the store keepers, bakers, publicans, tailors and others who supplied the men with what they needed to do their work. Some of the most wealthy beneficiaries from the gold fields were the cattlemen who supplied meat and the publicans who sold beer and whisky.
But that didn’t stop millions more rushing to the gold fields when they heard the oft repeated phrase, “There’s gold in them thar hills”. Perhaps as many as ninety eight per cent of them met only disappointment and failure. The two per cent who were successful benefited by elevating their position in society.
Today, it is the dream of publishing that is so very much like those gold rushes of the mid nineteenth century. Replacing that famous gold rush saying is, “There’s a publishing deal in them thar hills”. Thus, millions of prospective authors are rushing in blindly, each one hoping to get lucky and land a publishing deal. But just like those diggers, their efforts are mostly met by disappointment, disillusionment and depression. Only a small number of self published authors have found success and out of those, an even smaller number have attracted the kind of publishing deal most of us will only ever dream about.
The ones who are really making all the money are those preying on the author’s desperation, offering paid advertising deals, paid publishing contracts (author pays that is), vanity publishing deals etc. Such as these are sucking the indie author of funds, bleeding them dry. It is not uncommon for someone to pay multiple thousands of dollars to secure some success, but even for all that, they are left out of pocket, out of luck and as a consequence fall out of the wagon to flail about upon the dusty ground as they watch, teary eyed, their dreams be carted away into the distance.
Self published authors who have been around for a number of years have learned, through hard experience, that the best approach is not to expect much. In fact, not to expect anything at all. They also know not to chase after bad deals with good money, careful to spread their efforts with as broad a brush as possible, using the skills they have learned to blog their way into the hearts and minds of their growing fan base, steadily and purposefully building a name for themselves. They spend very little on promoting their brand, aware that such enterprises are usually fruitless. They prefer to buy copies of their own books and hold local signings, relying on good old fashioned peddling. They teach themselves how to design professional book covers, concentrating on improving their skills in writing, creating their own book trailers and marketing their ever evolving brand.
No, there really isn’t gold in them there hills. Well, there is (or at least was), but unless you are extremely fortunate, you will not find that gold. You might from time to time find a speck and that speck will give you enough hope to keep digging, further and further into the mountain, but you are one of millions of others, all digging their own tunnel towards the illusive fortune. But with so many tunnels being dug in the mountain, one has to wonder how long it will be before the resources have been exhausted and the mountain of dreams, now severely undermined, will collapse on us all, burying us along with our dreams, so that in the years to come, historians will write their non-fiction account of us, saying, “They came in their millions, each one hopeful of the fortune that tempted them to throw caution to the wind, cast all logic and reason aside and thrust themselves headlong into their imagined future, only to be swallowed up and destroyed by the very thing that glistened so beautifully with the promise of fortune, but for them held only disappointment and bitterness.”
Copyright©2015 Paul G Day