According to Bowker’s ISBN registrations, about a million books are published every year. We can quibble about the handful that are new editions of older books, but it doesnt change the truth:
Readers are drinking from a fire hose.
Even voracious book-a-day romance readers can’t keep up. Titles are going live far faster than readers can read them. And I don’t know about you, but I’m just as happy with a classic from the twentieth century (or the nineteenth) as with this year’s bestseller.
It’s a great time to be a reader. Three thousand new books available today! And three thousand more tomorrow!
Suppose your book is one of those three thousand. What’s a writer to do?
(Tedious repetition about perfect cover, perfect blurb, perfect launch, sticky email magnet to feed your massive email list, and all #20Booksto50K strategies to beat the competition gets a parenthetical nod. I can’t disagree; it’s all “good” advice.)
Here’s a thought: Take your time.
Average books stand no chance. Good books stand no chance. Invest the effort to make your book extraordinary. Someone with a hooked audience waiting for the next sequel benefits from speed, but if you don’t have that audience, you win by grinding.
Polish that draft from 99% perfect to 100%.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” — Steve Martin
And there’s this: good is relative. Who is your book for? If readers have a million new books to choose from this year, some will choose yours… if you wrote it just for them. Maybe you’ve heard of the idea of “1000 true fans,” but whatever it takes, know your audience, the people you are speaking to.
Or are you speaking for them? Are you giving them a voice?
Fifty-million-copy blockbusters will still happen now and then. But the real future of literature consists of you and your tribe.