The Numbers Game

Mark Coker is one of my favorite writers.  No, he doesn’t write fiction.  Or, as far as I know, anything with a truly creative flair.  What he does do is explain numbers without trying to skew them.  And that’s a rare thing.

Actually that’s a huge thing, especially considering that he’s the founder of Smashwords, possibly the largest self-publishing venue out there.  If not the largest, it’s close to it.  A writer can download Mark’s free book on formatting for Smashwords, then follow the directions and, in an hour or so, have a book published for free that can be sold on any venue Smashwords has a contract with. And that’s a whole lot of publishers.

I’m sure that Mark Coker makes a decent living through Smashwords.  But, in his many narratives about Smashwords and e-publishing in general, he doesn’t skew the numbers to make it look like a writer will sell more books than is realistic. And that’s huge because honesty could cost Mark Coker income by making potential authors choose not to publish through Smashwords.

It would be easy to skew the numbers without being dishonest.  All that’s necessary is to post averages.  Since there are a few very, very high-selling authors out there who pull the number of sales and the resulting sales figures way up, if you only post the averages, selling books online looks way more lucrative than it actually is.

I suspect Mark Coker isn’t worried.  I suspect he knows something intrinsic about writers.  He could probably throw negative numbers at everyone and shout to the rooftops that e-publishing isn’t profitable for most writers.  And those writers would publish anyway.  Because writers are optimists.

So read anything Mark Coker has to say on the subject if you want the truth.  Then go out there and publish your work anyway.  Because maybe you’ll become part of that small, select group of best-selling authors who do very well financially.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. indytony
    May 31, 2013 @ 21:04:56

    Writing fiction is still a better use of your time than watching TV. And self-publishing (along with aggressively marketing your work) is at least a better investment than buying a lottery ticket.


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