I find myself surprisingly grateful for Forbes these days. Despite never taking much of an interest in big business or economic trends, Forbes has a markedly diverse catalogue of articles.
Most recently, after hearing an astonishing story of an author making millions through self-publishing on Amazon, I did a quick google search for information about the problems currently facing big publishing houses. Like everyone, I've heard about these problems in recent years, and how the quality of work isn't always as important as one's fame or willingness to help bankroll a book.
Forbes, once again, offered helpful insight into the quagmire that is publishing.
Despite being a relatively old article, what resonated for me was the following:
-Anyone can have a bestseller; it means very little, and in fact, often just means that a load of cash was pumped into the publicity of the book.
-The publishing industry has sometimes taken a Hollywood approach to book sales, when in fact, books are a notoriously slow product.
-Books still sell, primarily, through word-of-mouth.
The last point seemed so stupidly obvious that I'm not sure why it never occurred to me before. The majority of books I've read in the last few years have come through recommendations from friends--even some of the books I use for teaching came about when discussing my courses with colleagues.
It's easy, when writing a book, to be bogged down by worries about where it will ultimately land, how it will sell, how it will affect audiences, etc., but honestly, this is where mindfulness and yoga are forever helpful. If writing for fame or money, I wish any author good luck (as the odds are less than favorable), but if writing for the love of writing, for the belief in the work, then the job is already done. What is writing if not a desire to connect? The poet, Robert Bly, once said to me, "If a reader finds one poem resonates from a collection, then I feel like I've done my job." Perhaps we should look at publishing similarly: If readers find the work valuable, and if readers find that the work lasts in their psyches, then what more can we, as writers, ask? Does it really matter where the work lands or is that all just ego? While writing my book at the moment, I'm working to put aside questions about publishers until after the labor of love is complete.
As writers, the important thing is to write, and to write from within, from that deep-seeded desire to create and retell and live through words. The rest will follow in its perfect time, in its own perfect way. Writing and yoga, they go unsurprisingly well together. (Perhaps my next internet search should be about yoga and Forbes. Or not.)