No, wait! This isn’t a want ad. Although if you want to purchase a race car book for kids, you’ve come to the right place! I thought the title pointed to an important obstacle for writers. At least it’s one of my challenges, but, it’s not really a writing problem, but more of a reading problem.
Let me explain.
Don’t Quit your Day Job
When I wrote the first John Fastramp book, it wasn’t like I thought, “hey, I’ll just write a race car book for children.” Nope, I just wanted to put my kid’s bedtime stories down on paper – to see if I could do it. I mean J.K. Rowling did it! Okay, okay – she didn’t do bedtime stories, but you get the point. And yes, I hoped it would be a commercial success, but I also understood how hard that would be to accomplish. It’s estimated that only one in ten authors actually make a full-time living from writing. In the United Kingdom, it was estimated that 50% of authors earned less than £10,500 (~$14,000) in 2013.
The rest of us better not give up our day jobs.
They say everyone has a novel in them – not that I’ve met one of these people – it must be very uncomfortable – but that’s the familiar refrain. There are a ton of writers out there, but there are many more folks who haven’t written anything – at least not since the requisite high-school English classes. If most people have a story brewing in their innards, why don’t many of them ever get that pesky sucker out?
Why is that?
Maybe it’s the time or commitment required? Not enough time? Not enough commitment? Maybe most people fancy themselves as writers but don’t actually want to do the work to be a good writer. Perhaps it’s the sinking feeling of opening a new document and not knowing what to write? Honestly, I could be placed in all of these categories at one time or another. But, although the rejection letters are a familiar constant – like death and taxes – I persist! Here I am, standing on that virtual street corner, holding up my sign “Race Car Book for Sale.”
But! Once you write IT, whatever it is, people have to read it. Don’t they?
Is it like a tree falling in the forest – if no one reads it – did you write it? Well, I guess you did write it, but the point is that if it isn’t read, what’s the point? Now someone (probably not just someone but a whole lot of people are wagging their fingers at me. I know that for some it’s merely self-expression and that’s great. I’m not judging! If no one has to read it for it to have achieved the writer’s goal, then that’s fine. But for me, I want, no, need my work to be read, and (gulp), hopefully, enjoyed.
Trick of the Tail (Genesis reference)
So how do you find a wider audience?
Well, of course, I know – THE INTERNET. No need to yell. But how? Many assume that the World Wide Web will help readers come right to their door – in my case for my race car book. Marketing folks even have a term for how the Internet can level the playing field – the long tail. It’s the belief that everything placed on the Internet is there forever (not always a good thing: think malpractice or racist statements caught in a video) but I digress. Many years ago, I also thought of the Internet as the great equalizer: sort of like that old saying about Colonel Colt, “God created man, but Sam Colt made them all equal” or something like that.
The problem is that my long tail is actually quite short. After all, you can put anything on the internet, and I mean anything. But finding it is quite another thing altogether. So, to my particular quandary- do you know how many people have written a ‘race car book for kids’ and put them on the web? Well, I don’t know either, but I can tell you that when you type that phrase into Google you get 107 million results.
I’m sure I’m at the bottom of that long list.
Race Car Book SEO
So what to to do? What would J.K. do?
My friend, call him Big D, says it’s all about Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short. Big D says that one of the primary ways people find you is to get more traffic to your website. My site, I honestly admit, is lacking traffic: it currently resembles that desolate intersection in North by Northwest where Cary Grant waits for George Kaplan.
But, hey, if you’re reading this then I guess you’ve visited. Tell your friends!
The old adage – the hardest part of the journey is the first step – is correct. I like to think of this as my first SEO step into the broader world of search optimization. Maybe J.K can give me some advice – on writing or SEO.
I’d appreciate her help.