Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Silly Season and Some Inspiration

Vicki reporting in.

Lots happening on the promotional front these days. Rick was signing at Coles bookstore in the Royal Bank Plaza in downtown Toronto last week (If you’re in the neighbourhood, drop by – they’re a super nice bunch there. Tell the manager, Lori, that I sent you). I probably won’t get to his launch party on Thursday so I thought I’d get my copy of his new one, When Hell Freezes Over, then.

A woman was standing at Rick’s table, looking mildly interested in buying a book, but not entirely convinced. I rushed up, and gushed, in my normal soft, dulcet tones (not!) “I’ve been so looking forward to reading this book after I read the wonderful review of it in the Globe and Mail. Whereupon she looked a bit more interested. Not a word of a lie, I just played it up a bit.

On my own promotional front, I was invited to speak at a high school last week. I really enjoyed the experience. There were about 60 students, grades 11 and 12. Most of them didn’t even look as if they were forced to be there. I read a section from Burden of Memory, and they applauded. That was nice.

The crux of my talk was the motivation behind being a writer. I heard somewhere that 10 million people in the U.S. are writing a book or thinking of writing one. And I’m sure that the percentage in Canada is comparable. Whew! Makes you put down that pen or close that computer right now, just thinking of the competition. But if you have a bit of talent, and a bit of luck (or a lot of luck!) then you’re not really competing with 10 million plus people. You are competing with the fraction of that number who 1) actually write the book and 2) do a good job.

I have seen it broken down like this:

1 out of 100 people who say "I want to write a book" actually start writing.
Out of those who write, 1 out of 100 actually finishes.
Out of those that finish, 1 out of 100 take the time to polish it up and send it to an agent/publisher
Out of those that submit, 1 out of 100 will be published

(Thanks to Charles for the stats)

So looking at it that way, if you get that book finished to the best of your ability, and send it out to the wider world, you are not competing with 10 million (and 1 million Canadians). You’re only competing with 100 other writers, and that’s pretty manageable.

So go for it! And remember, once you’re actually written the book, then the hard part starts – see promotion above.




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