The Sole Footprint on a Crowded Sandy Beach

 [Photo by Mary Lane. – Legal use licensed via Dreamstime – November 2014]

[Photo by Mary Lane. – Legal use licensed via Dreamstime – November 2014]

As authors, we are merely a sole footprint in the sand on an all-too-crowded beach.

There are more opportunities for access to venues of entertainment now than ever before. In addition to the traditional sports, concerts, theaters, and fun parks, diverse content is instantly and plentifully available via cable TV, streamed via the Internet, both free and subscription-based music channels, and literature available online through multiple providers of eBooks. In the spectrum of eBooks alone, this year it is estimated that Amazon stocks well over 4 million eBooks in its online inventory.

And though competition for the attentions of the mases is stiff among traditional entertainment sources, the race for popularity (and subsequently, sales!) of eBooks is at a fevered pitch. This is a wonderful development for readers, as they have more books to choose from than at any other time in the history of publishing. The downside is squarely on content creators – that is, authors and publishers – via their race for reader (and buyer) visibility. Alas, only a precious few authors will hold those coveted popular ranks and listings within Amazon, the Apple Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other digital eBook provider’s databases.

For readers, the biggest challenge is curating those seemingly endless titles to discover and select the ones that most interest them. For authors and publishers, the challenge is to have their voices heard – and titles seen – among the screaming masses of their peers, each seeking to be the next popular and best-selling book in the literary marketplace.

Regrettably, there are powerful, visceral emotions in the mix among authors. Each of their books is like a child, something they created and brought into the world, only to be critically viewed and subsequently judged in a global popularity contest; each hoping to be a swan and not the ugly duckling of the flock. I, too, struggle with those fears and anxieties for my children…my novels. There is but one remedy for such apprehensions. One must concede the very nature of our culture and society, and embrace their individuality and uniqueness therein.

It took many years of both maturity and soul-searching to appreciate that I was an eccentric and unconventional person; that I saw the world quite differently from those in the mainstream around me. My imagination and egalitarian political philosophies were not appreciated by narrower minds and more conservative perspectives. As such, my alpha-female, beta-male pairing of characters in my Sunset Vampire series is not among the mainstream of reader preferences. And yet, I’m very proud of my works; unashamed to be part of a minority. I embrace the unusual; ever willing to carry the banner (and at times, the burden) that heralds concepts both controversial and unconventional. The downside for me in the marketplace is that fringe works such as mine rarely meet with prolific commercial success. Still, I’ve done better than I thought I might when my first novel was released in 2010. Though not large commercial successes, the majority of my novels have reached their payoff amount; a feat left unconquered by nearly eighty percent of novels published.

For each book, there is a season. One of my hopeful beliefs is that for every book or novel, somewhere out there in the world is a reader (or, better yet, many readers) who can and will appreciate it. The matter is one of discovery, as well as timing. Authors and publishers must find new and inventive ways to raise awareness of their works, and then the venues to distribute them.

For writers who find themselves in similar circumstances as my own, I urge you to continue writing and communicating you creative vision in your own unique image. Take heart and have confidence that, somewhere out there in the world, there is a reader who will be grateful for your efforts.

For readers, I have an entirely different message: When you find a novel that touches you in a special manner, please share your appreciation with those around you. Help authors reach new readers. Thank you!

Until later, enjoy life; be kind to those around you, and Happy Reading! Peace.