My dirty little secret (and how it drives me)

                          I have no choice but to be successful in publishing.                        
                         Source: awesomepeoplereading.tumblr.com via Christine on Pinterest

 

The financial crisis of 2008 broke my family.  In my memoir I present my unfiltered emotions and experiences because I want it to be true and raw, just as it was when the events unfolded.  I hope it will begin a conversation about the unspoken hardships millions of Americans have experienced over the last 3 years, and I hope it will inspire Americans who continue to struggle (like me) to continue to fight to restore their lives.

I know you can imagine pieces of my tale.  You’ve probably experienced pieces of it, too.

But what if I can’t find an agent or a publisher and I am unable to share my story?  Publishers generally accept 1% of the manuscripts they receive.  I must admit, when I reflect on this statistic, I start to have heart palpitations.

Is it enough that the writing process was cathartic?  Is it enough that it prompted self-realization?  In a word, no.  My writing goal is, and always has been, simple if not base: to make a lot of money.  Why isn’t the creative process of writing enough for me?  I have a dirty little secret (actually it’s a big, disgraceful, disappointing, and embarrassing secret): my husband and I made poverty level income in 2011.

This book has. to. sell.

So I’ve begun to think of my work not just as a piece of art, but a commodity.  Right now I’m trying to look at my manuscript from the consumer’s point of view.  Would a person walking into the store or shopping online come across my book and feel compelled to buy it?  Would a person still be interested in it two years from now, a likely publication date?  Altering my thinking is an important step at this point in my writing process, because my endeavor to meet my financial goals depend on it.

Last week I went to the bookstore and perused the shelves in order to understand the market for my book; I also studied the bestseller lists.  This research brought me to a question that has long lingered in my mind.  What makes a book a bestseller?  Why, for example, is the Fifty Shades trilogy currently enjoying its 31st week on the bestseller list?  Fifty Shades delivers erotica, and everyone loves to read about sex, but what else is at play here?  The experts say a book enjoys success for a complex mix of reasons.  These reasons include the subject, the author, the publisher, the agent, the writing, the marketing and promotion plan, the timeliness of the ideas, the writer’s online and offline presence, the book format, the economy, and a good dose of luck.  What is my mix of success factors?  I’m afraid my book doesn’t feature any handcuffs or sex toys, but it does feature a creaky bed.

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