Yet, marketing gurus and hugely successful bloggers like Adrienne Smith maintain that with blogging you can “make a living” (see here).
Perhaps you can if you sell something else than books.
And here is why (in my humble opinion). There are two factors at work: (1) market saturation and (2) TV competition for your free time.
No question, of late, the ebook market has become saturated. If you have an e-reader, I bet it’s full of books you haven’t read, books you uploaded when they went free.
Over the past three years, there has been a frenzy of giveaways to “gain new readers”, and I confess that I joined the crowd and made my books free several times, with decreasing success each time. Gone are the days of 10,000 downloads (at least for me)! Of course, now 99 cents (the launch price of an ebook) is the “new free” – I plead guilty, I’ve done it too, all the first book of my series are priced like that.
The end result is the same: way too many books around.
Because the truth is, you’re never going to read all those books you’ve stored up in your Kindle (or elsewhere).
Another major reason is that people don’t feel like reading novels the way they used to.
Don’t get me wrong, the desire to be entertained is as strong as ever – who doesn’t like to unwind at the end of a hard day’s work in front of the TV with a drink in hand? So TV series like House of Cards or Game of Thrones replace long evenings of reading novels.
People read fiction only when there’s a blockbuster around, 50 Shades of Grey and the like.
Otherwise people prefer to read non-fiction (if they read at all). This is why Thomas Piketty‘s book, Capital in the 21st Century, is immensely successful, in spite of forbidding reams of statistics and a title reminiscent of Karl Marx.
Ditto for the worldwide success achieved by Karl Ove Knausgaard, an unknown Norwegian writer. His novel, bizarrely called My Struggle which translates to “Mein Kampf” in German, reminiscent of Hitler’s famous book, is less a novel than a huge memoir thousands of pages-long that traces his “growing up”, his “struggle” to understand the world around him. Book 1 starts off with a witty observation: people love to watch death on TV – war reports from the Middle East, volcanic eruptions, fires, floods etc – but turn their eyes away whenever someone dies around them. The corpse is immediately covered with a blanket and whisked away in an ambulance, bodies are stacked in cold storage rooms etc Why, he asks, are we afraid to see a corpse in reality when we spend our time doing so on TV? Good question.
In general, books that express a personal point of view are big successes – much more so than novels that are often seen as fantasy and therefore a “waste of time”. How else do you explain the global success of Eat, Pray and Love, the story of a woman wounded by love who goes in search of herself across the world, from Italy to Indonesia? Elizabeth Gilbert has since written other novels, like, for example, “The Signature of All Things“, that in spite of its intriguing title and subject matter, hasn’t met with the same success – probably because it didn’t give off the same whiff of personal intimacy.
And herein lies the cause of the success of such memoir-like books: they don’t read like fiction, they are one man or one woman’s exploration of their own lives. Mind you, these are people who haven’t done anything remarkable; they have just lived their lives as someone’s child, lover, parent.
In short they are like you and me and that’s why people are curious. Such books are “literary selfies“.
So if your fondest hope is to be the author of a break-through novel, write a “selfie”…and don’t bother with blogging!
I’ll tell you a secret. Contrary to what you might think, I’m not blogging in order to sell you my books (if you’re curious, you can see them displayed in the sidebars, if not, just ignore them). I only blog because I enjoy it, I simply like to share my ideas with you and hear what you think.
So tell me, how about you, why do you blog? Have you seen a connection between your book sales and your blog traffic?