Many times I hear new authors worrying about having their work stolen by others. They will ask me what securities I can offer them to make sure some unscrupulous author doesn’t take their work or that I may choose to steal their work, publish it and reap millions of dollars in sales.
I wouldn’t be in this business if I went around stealing people’s books. But the concern underlines a few key facts the writer is unaware of. First, even if you have a fantastic book, that is well marketed and well received by the media, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be rich from it. Consider that some books make it on to the bestseller list with a few as 5,000 copies sold. That means the author probably made about $15,000 for all those years of effort. And that is a case where everything went the way it was supposed to.
If a book is not marketed, it goes nowhere. There are too many books out there that compete for people’s time and money. Consider that by best estimates, Amazon carries about 5,000,000 titles on any given day. Another 30 to 40 thousand are made available every day. How can one book, without marketing be heard above the deluge?
In a situation like this, I always think of science fiction writers, Cory Doctorow’s take on this. “My problem isn’t piracy. It’s obscurity.” Doctorow is at the other end of the copyright spectrum. He is a big advocate for giving away his writing for free to build his audience. And it is hard to argue with the success he has met with as he racks up one international bestseller after another.