When I started my professional writing career – it’s a long time ago – there were few of us who could call themselves fulltime writers. I started in radio as a copywriter, and since then have been a freelance writer, contract writer, editor, education writer, playwright, then an academic writer during the years I was an academic.
The picture is different now, though for most the low financial return remains the same.
Storytelling is now in vogue in a big way – everyone, it seems, has a story they want to tell. At the same time, technology has opened the publishing business to anyone who wants to see their by-line on a cover, be it paper or digital.
Figures on how many books are currently being published per year seem to agree it’s around the 2.2 million mark. Yes, that’s millions! More than 6,000 every day.
Despite the fact that the majority of these books will sell very few copies, sometimes only a couple of dozen, and comparatively few will pass the 200 mark, the number of hopeful new authors is also increasing by the day.
A recent poll in UK revealed that the most popular choice of most desired job was that of an author, with 60% of respondents choosing it from a given list.
It seems all these wannabe writers aren’t readers. If they were, they’d know that almost every author who’s made any sort of name for him or herself has said what an exceptionally hard job they find it. For all but a handful there’s no glamour attached to it, and most probably almost no pay. Apparently that’s not a deterrent.
I guess it’s human nature that most people believe they’ll be the one among millions who is the exception to the rule.