Why can’t writers sell their work?

James Garside

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Don’t Give Up — Get Better

A distressed writer asked me: “Why can’t writers sell their books, that they’ve agonized and slaved over, sometimes for years, for the price of a cup of coffee?”

To which I replied: “Because our consumer society values coffee higher than books. People buy what they want — be that coffee or books.”

They weren’t impressed, to put it mildly, but I stand by what I said.

It’s an excellent question — even if the author meant it differently and my response was unhelpful.

Why SHOULD you be able to make a living from your writing?

I ask this as a writer. But I answer it as a writer too.

The world doesn’t owe you a living.

Some people can and do charge more than the price of a cup of coffee for their books.

And people continue to buy those books.

Because, drum-roll, they want THOSE books.

Maybe they just don’t want YOUR books.

Maybe you need to write something else.

Maybe you need to find your audience.

Maybe you need to get better.

Not you — I’m sure that you’re wonderful — I just mean the rest of us.

All you can do is write the best books you can.

Does that mean the good will always out?

No.

Nelson Algren never received the recognition he deserved but Dan Brown continues to sell millions.

This is why we can't have nice things.

The world is a mess.

Write better, publish better, and market better.

But stop whining.

Don’t give up — get better.

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NCTJ-qualified British independent journalist, author and travel writer.

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