Why do we write?

Authors write stories because we have stories to tell. The story is there, inside us, It burns us, gnaws away at our stomachs, until it is written.

So here we are, early in 2011, and the ebook revolution is well under way. Previously unpublished authors are selling thousands – no, tens of thousands, of books per month. Previously published authors are raking over their back catalogue, putting out novels that are either out of print, or novels that their publisher didn’t want.

And then we check the results. Under the old publishing models, we had little or no access to our sales numbers. We wrote the book, the publisher put it out there, and we checked our royalties when the publishers informed us. Now, we have unprecedented access to our sales figures and our royalties several times a day – heck several times an hour even, if we so want.

We discuss why our books aren’t doing as well as we had hoped; we trade information, we swap links, tell our stories, offer help; we read of marketing strategies; we agonise whether $0.99 or $2.99 os the “sweet spot”, the right price, the best way of maximising revenue or gaining readership.

But hang on a second. Why do we write? We write because we’re authors, and we need to tell the story, yes? Isn’t there a danger we’re becoming sales and marketing executives, public relations personnel, publishing technicians and industry gurus?

There’s more than enough evidence to show that the more publications we have out there, the more copies we sell. But it’s not a linear relationship. Just because you sell ten copies a month of book A, it doesn’t mean that adding book B will add ten more copies a month to your sales. It’s not linear, it’s exponential. You’re dealing with buyer psychology here. They see your solitary book, they wonder if you’re a ‘proper’ author. They see three, four books, they think “accomplished writer”.

So why aren’t you writing? Come to think of it, why am I not writing?



  1. theaatkinson I know what you mean as well as Ray and I check all the time what has been sold as the thrill that someone has bought one of our books is real thrilling.

    Gerald agree with all that you have said as they always say start with what you know and what do you know best —-your own life. hmmmm thats what worries me about Bleak Midwinter’s where did those ides come from, was that something that happened in your life?


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