The Value of Words

My novel A Family Man, which took a year to write, is currently available to purchase for 99p.  This is thanks to an Amazon Summer Promotion and I couldn't be more pleased.  Last month, due to selection in a similar cut-price 24 hour deal, my book Relative Love rocketed from 125,000th to 12th in the Kindle Bestseller Rankings.  The next day it began its descent, but, oh my goodness, it was a giddy ride.  I sat glued to my screen watching the sale-bounce, whooping like a Wall Street trader.

The experience has sharpened my awareness of two things.

First, the power of Amazon.  The POWER of Amazon.  It is a behemoth.  For any writer wishing to sell books (an... ... hat sort of goes with the territor... riters write to be read), Amazon is the global publisher, an awesome institution that must be courted, used, worked with, but never - NEVER - ignored.

Second, it got me thinking about the value of the written word.  99p is very small sum of money.  A Family Man took 365 days to write. Relative Love took 730.  As a maths exercise the work-reward ratio is depressing.  I actually tried to do the sum but gave up, long division, especially when all the numbers come AFTER the decimal point, not being my idea of a fun-challenge.  But that is part of the point.  I am good with words not numbers.  I write books for a living.  I need the support of an industry with integrity to help me sell them.

Writing a novel is time-consuming and hard work.  This could be said of any writing, but novels, by and large, are * extra ** *hard work because they contain tens of thousands of words, ideally packed with tricky things like Meaning and Surprise and Truth. I have yet to meet an author who finds the process a breeze.  Personally, I find it the opposite of a breeze.  In fact, every book for me is about the battle not to give up.  And even when that battle is won and the manuscript finished, I feel drained as opposed to celebratory, doubt-ridden, not to mention dumbfounded at how far the finished product has drifted from the original (for more glorious) conception.

I don't want violins.  I just want acknowledgement that 99p is not a lot.  Only a very few titles - the top millimetre of the Behemoth Publishing Pyramid - can hope to sell in sufficient numbers at such a price to make a humble - let alone a decent - living.

This means lots of good books won't get read.

Worse still, it means lots of good books won't get written.

To find out whether A Family Man should have slipped through the net, click here (for 99p):