Perhaps a domestic tale answers this question better than me. My Thai partner always smirks when she sees me working on my books and asks me, “So, Jon, you want to “kat thum” again? “Kat thum” is Thai for “make a loss”. I nod glumly, swallow my pride, and bury my head in my computer.
The truth is that despite a small sum coming into my UK bank account from Amazon every month I do indeed “kat thum”. I have to outsource some things I just can’t seem to do. I sometimes buy books for book promotions that don’t work out for me. (Everyone hates me and my books on that day.) I bury my head in the sand so much that I forget key events like visa renewals in Thailand and get fined by grinning Thai immigration officials. You name it, I get “kat thumed” it!
With thousands of books out there and thousands more coming out every week it’s not easy. I imagine if you raked for the startling statistics you’d find Amazon/books alone has five, seven, ten million titles filed away? Truth is there are too many books out there and too few readers. With videos, youtubes, Fbookers, Twitteratures, families, work, eating, and sleeping, it’s a wonder the average person even finds time to open a book, put it down, and say, “No time for that!”
And to make my point even more succinctly, I’m not a best-selling author and I don’t think I give that much pleasure to my readers.
So, why do I do it? To “kat thum” or for other reasons? Answer is I like writing, I’ve written a lot, I want to get it off my chest, it’s self-fulfilling, and it makes me feel good. Yes, sorry, that when you pick up “Love And Other Afflictions” or read a title like “Great Tits I’ve Known And Other Species” you want to groan with the weight of it all but it’s not my fault if I’ve written it / them. Or is it?
Many a moon ago I taught English conversation to an Italian advertising executive and I mentioned “The Betrothed” (1827) by Manzoni as an example of a great Italian novel. I didn’t expect him to groan but groan he did. “That brick!” he exclaimed, disgustedly.
Yes, we authors are producing too many bricks but what can we do if, obsessed by writing, we’ve been given a free platform to publish them on called the God Almighty Amazon?