No guarantee in the book world but there is money to be made!

READ IT AND WEEP?: E-readers have boosted interest in books

A CYNIC asks a newspaper columnist if aspiring authors actually make money from selling their books.

They do, and the chances of recouping their outlay are far higher than returns offered by many other investments.

There are no guarantees that a book, film or television series will be successful. Like new fashions or newspapers, they are acts of faith. Wilbur Smith and Jeffrey Archer cross their fingers when their latest title rolls off the printing press.

Amazon-Kindle and e-books have provided a level playing field. New authors, who in the past would have received wads of rejection slips, now collect wads of banknotes whilst well-known authors fail.

Most people spend on indulgences like photography, painting, learning a language, horse riding; taking on a pet for life. Do cynics ask, “Do you actually make money from that?”

Of course not but writing a book costs considerably less. It is a feat, most authors recover their outlay and many do well out of their book’s success. When introduced as an author there is always the Wow Factor response. Tell them instead you just spent time and money on a skiing holiday and watch eyes glaze over.

Most authors are philosophical. If their only reason for writing was to make money, you can guarantee two things. They would never get round to it and if they did it would fail. Good books are written with passion. If it were otherwise, it would be as fruitless as attempting to sell a product you do not understand or have a belief in.

Writing a book, painting a picture or creating a sculpture are triumphs that bring out the best in us. Such achievements are therapeutic and nothing quite matches the feeling you get when you see your accomplishment in its completed form.

When you spend money on a sport or holiday, all you have to show for it are photographs and memories. An expensive piece of jewellery is someone else’s gift, not yours. These are personal indulgences. The author, sculptor or artist shares their achievements with others. Their works are enduring.

Today we get pleasure from books, movies and we enjoy listening to beautiful music; we marvel at works of art that were created by paupers who, at the time, laboured under passionate self-belief.

Yesterday’s libraries and art galleries are stuffed with biographies and pictures of famous but boring people. Because of advances in publishing, posterity can now look forward to sharing the lives of today’s not so famous but who lived lives that are far more interesting.

Imagine if today we could read first hand accounts of servants who lived ‘under the stairs’ of stately homes, travellers who journeyed steerage, soldiers who served in the Peninsular Wars. This is the legacy that today’s authors leave to the world. What will you leave to posterity? 

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