HELP! Everyone Is Writing A BookHere is a very important quote, which every past, present or future self-published author needs to see:

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” (Cicero, c. something BC)

Now, here’s the catch. There is no evidence that this quote ever originated from the lofty Ancient Roman philosopher more than 2,000 years ago. In fact, there is no evidence that this quote originated from any period greater than 100 years ago.

And yet, since the early 1900s, this quote has been bandied about it some form or another, always attributed to the ancient world. Most early attributions quote the literary portion reading something like “and every man wants to write a book”. Others attribute the more generalised version of “and everyone is writing a book” to some point between the 1980s and 2001.

The point is that right from at least the beginning of the last century, all the way up to the year 2001, which was still before the great self-publishing revolution, this quote was consistently, well, quotable, because enough people thought that too many in society were writing books.

The only difference with today, is that there are more forms of media available in order to feed the paranoia about it.

HELP! Everyone Is Writing A Book

It is true that more people are self-publishing nowadays. Cheaper routes to publication and digital transmission have made that possible. But the impact of that today, surely, is that we’re now simply hearing about more of them.

We can now become aware of some wholly unconnected author, thousands of miles away, who is writing in the same genre as us. We may even read their blog, communicate with them, make snap judgements about them and their work, and start a massive argument in their comments section. Hurrah!

Picture the scene. Only, picture it twice. One author has just finished his book in the late 1990s; the other  in 2015.

HELP! Everyone Is Writing A Book


The late 1990s. Dublin. Writer’s Garret.

The emphysemic printer stuttered to a stop, cranking out the last smeary, bubble-jet pages, as their author wept. Paul felt as drained as an overused simile. He lit a cigarette and examined the callouses on his fingertips from the clunky beige keys on his stained keyboard. He exhaled heavily, an audible catch on his throat.

“That’s it,” he intoned. “It’s finally finished. 500 leaves of my blood, sweat and tears.”

He stacked the pages together, slotting them into the battered envelope which once contained the last will and testament of his father.

“And he said I’d never amount to anything,” he snarled. He stared, nonplussed, at the wheezing printer, as if surprised that he was addressing anything at all, let alone the closest companion on his solitary writing journey, the sole instrument as yet to bear witness to Paul’s triumph of will over talent.

“But look at me now, old man,” he said triumphantly, as he stubbed out his cigarette on the steel toecap of his Doc Marten. “As soon as publishers see my guaranteed-bestseller conspiracy thriller about secret Christian societies, I’ll be paying other people to dance on your grave.”

Paul smiled. He was the only person he knew who had ever written a book. He was going to be beating the women off with a stick.


HELP! Everyone Is Writing A Book

2015. Dublin. Café With WiFi.

It all looked so real when she saw it in PDF. Just for the hell of it, Milendra uploaded her unpublished manuscript to her Kindle, and there it was. 125,000 words; the product of four years of hair-wrenching toil and bitten fingernails. Her opus maximus. Her life on a page.

“It’s done,” she breathed, with the same sense of wonder as she’d felt when she’d received the first ever comment on her blog, telling Milendra it was a “very good blog”, and the sender, a purveyor of knock-off handbags, was keen to thank her “for these sorts of informations”.

This was it. It was time to research her self-publishing marketing plan online.

Oh, Christ. There seemed to be some guy writing a very similar-sounding conspiracy thriller about right-wing groups creating terror threats in order to blame foreign extremists. And he had 20,000 blog followers and 87,403 Facebook Likes.

She’d better check Amazon.

She stared gloomily at the phone, tablet and laptop in front of her. They all told her the same thing. There were already 8,380 entries in the Amazon “Conspiracy Thrillers: Right-Wing Groups Creating Terror Threats In Order To Blame Foreign Extremists” category. And she’d bet that every single one of them had more followers than she had.

She glowered at her three screens. There were just too many people writing books. She was never going to be able to kill all of them.


What do you think? Do you believe that there are now vast quantities of people writing full-length novels, who would otherwise not have done so, just because self-publishing has become more affordable? What impact do you think this has on you, either as a reader or a writer?

Comments, please.


  1. January 13, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Of course there are too many people writing books. I am one of them. But there are also hundreds of millions of people buying books…. who would never have heard of me in the pre internet world, who might just hear about me now. Buying books is a luxury. … well not for me, actually, that’s more like a compulsion. But for most people buying books is a luxury. …choice is good. I am going to keep right on writing. …but here’s the important thing. … only one in ten thousand of us are going to make any money. … that’s a different question.

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Agreed, Orla. I suppose what I was saying (long-windedly) was that I think it’s the difference between people writing alone, or being heard of; not that more people are writing just because of self-publishing. More people might think they’re going to make money out of it, true – but they’ll soon grow out of it!!


  2. January 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Uncanny! I am both of those people. You’ve been spying on me, haven’t you? I’ll write a book about it! It’s just the next phase in the ever-changing industry, and I’m in it for the fun, myself. I’ve published on-line, and will do so again just shortly here. I call it my “glorified hobby,” and like the guy who pays a bundle to go to fantasy camp and rub elbows with aging sports stars, I’m having a ball, and consider the money I spend no different than a stamp collector paying for a rare issue. Unlike that wannabe baseball player, there’s a chance that my book could be that one-in-a-million that takes off. Probably not, though, but when the industry moves on to the next phase and this is no longer an option, I will carry the excitement and enjoyment with me to my grave, and you can’t put a price on that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I haven’t been spying, Jack, unless you call hanging around outside your house spying. (Better be careful about that, some people online get very upset even with jokes about that!)

      Let’s just keep fingers crossed that you are, in fact, one of those one-in-a-million. Actually, for writers, I do think it might be as low as one-in-ten-thousand: writing a book is still a big achievement.


  3. January 13, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    “I’m the only guilty man in Shawshank.”
    I don’t know if you’ve ever read Shawshank Redemption, that (kind of meh) book which was subsequently made into a fantastic movie, but I identify with that quote. I’m the only one on WordPress who’s not writing a book, or dreaming of the day when they get paid for writing their blog. Unless you keep a blog as a part of your job in the publishing world, or something of the like… No one gets paid.
    No one gets paid except that fat lady who writes a blog about feeding a thousand people on a ranch somewhere, and the craziest right wing asshole who is currently writing a blog (changes day to day). I do know a lot of people (shakes head sadly), who think they’ve hit it big when companies ask them to promote their products online. Unfortunately, they haven’t hit it big, they’ve just ruined their blog (that used to entertain me) with commercials. I’ve lost a few friends over this– for it is not in my nature to shut up. I must provide my own bubble bursting input.
    Everybody’s writing a book. Or planning to write a book. Whoever said it, they were right. It’s on everyones bucket list, even mine, but I’ve no delusions regarding people buying my pointless drivel.
    My Mom would buy it, though. She wouldn’t read it, but she’s buy it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      How dare you skulk around WordPress without writing a book?? Who let you in, for God’s sake? Is there no proper security any more? GUARDS!

      I suppose everyone on WordPress is an anomaly. Myself, for instance – I’m the only one in my office I know called Tara Sparling and writing a book. I’m very unique like that.

      Would your Mom buy my book once it’s out in 2023?

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 13, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        My Mom would probably not buy your book, as she would only buy my book to shut me up about how she ought to buy my book. I would buy your book, and give it to her. Perhaps for her birthday, after I read it myself. That way we only had to buy one copy.
        I would have bought two copies, but you called security on me.

        Liked by 2 people

        • January 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm

          I didn’t call security on you. I think you’ll find that called security FOR you. To make sure that you were being looked after, in case all the book-writing bloggers ganged up on you.

          I’m surprised at you, for thinking otherwise. Still, I’m grateful to you for buying the book which I haven’t published yet for your Mom. Thank you, Naptime. Now be a good blogger and put that security guard down.

          Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      When I wrote my first Mills and Boon, the local book shop ordered 10 extra copies, and when I went in to buy one, they were all sold out. I was soooooo pleased, until the guy behind the counter said they’d all been bought by one little Scottish woman, and then accurately described my mother.

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 14, 2015 at 7:59 pm

        Awww… She was just proud. What mother wouldn’t want twelve zillion copies of her kid’s book?


        • January 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm

          Steady on, she’s a woman with presbyterian principles. If she had bought 12 zillion, I’m sure that would have been bad for me. Dunno how, but it would.


          • January 14, 2015 at 11:07 pm

            Where does Mills & Boon fit into Presbyterianism, exactly? I’ve always wondered. (Or did she file you under ‘charity’…?)


            • January 15, 2015 at 10:16 am

              She didn’t read it. Anyway, I wrote a book. Who cares what it was about???

              Liked by 1 person

  4. January 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Let us advertise and recruit some readers! Someone should blog about the tribe of hapless readers who get dumped with all kinds of gibberish, have to sift through tons of it, decide on which one to read in detail and then proceed to announce if it made any sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Yes, somebody definitely needs to find some readers soon, Ashok! There must be one or two on this blog, if I could just ask them to sign in. Thanks.


      • January 13, 2015 at 5:30 pm

        I guess the way to ferret them out would be to continue with your charming posts with greater zeal and (perhaps) higher frequency! There is a dilemma here – because the more time you spend on this one, the less you get for the core job, of composing the book and giving it a final shape!

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 13, 2015 at 7:01 pm

          Or indeed the core core job, Ashok, being the day job which actually pays me a salary 😉


          • January 14, 2015 at 2:40 am

            Yes, of course. One does have to keep one’s body and soul together!


  5. January 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Another excellent post 🙂

    This is the second charge usually levied against self-publishing: with everyone becoming a writer, we will run out of readers (the first one is that we’ll drown in a “tsunami of crap”). This reminds me of a common fear a few years back, when I kept reading articles on how the Internet was bursting at the seams and we would soon run out of bandwidth, domain names, servers… You name it.

    What these articles failed to take into account is that, any system growing rapidly, will also have more resources at its disposal. The millions of people joining the Internet fed its expansion. As a result, we now have ever increasing capacity and millions of unused names.

    The same applies to books. For example, ever since I published my first book, I have been reading at an exponential rate. I can only hope that everyone becomes a writer, as this creates a whole new generation of readers! As Orla points out, though, this doesn’t mean everyone’s going to get rich.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      I agree, Nicholas. I never read self-published stuff before 2 or 3 years ago, and now it’s 1 book out of every 3 or 4. I still don’t think the baying hoardes are suddenly writing books: just that we hear about them now.

      I have little sympathy for authors too who are fed up at not getting rich from their writing. I whinged at length about this last year on “6 Reasons Why Writers Need To Stop Bloody Whining”. AND I was holding back 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. January 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, there’s tens of thousands of us out there writing books. I live in a small village of 2000 people and in it we have one traditionally published author and 3 others (including myself) who have written books (we also have a double Booker prize winning author who holidays here but i won’t count her 🙂 ). More importantly, I know of tens, if not hundreds of people in my village who say they would like to write a book but never will. If you extrapolate this out across the country, or even the world, it shows that there are lots of people publishing books. This doesn’t mean you haven’t achieved something for doing it, or that you should stop. Over the last year I’ve read and enjoyed many self-published novels, none of which I would have had the chance to read if it wasn’t for self-publishing. I personally think self-publishing is a good thing as it gives me, as a reader, more choice at more affordable prices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Ok, Dylan, even I have to admit that’s an insane ratio of writers to citizens! Where on earth do you live? Can you move?

      (Actually, as soon as I typed that, I realised how ridiculous that sounded. I live in Dublin where every 2nd person is probably writing a book. And I come from the same tiny village in the west of Ireland as Edna O’Brien, and at least ten poets and historians who have also published. Oh, dear. I should never have done the math…)

      Joking aside, I think the numbers are just arranged differently – they still add up to the same total. There are now thousands of self-published authors jostling for readers to buy their books. Once, they were jostling for agents and publishers to take them on. It’s the same competition, just more work, really.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. January 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Yah, I do think the “ease” with which one can now self-publish is making wanna-be writers more apt to take a stab at the process instead of just placing the notion on their bucket list. I don’t however, think that the ratio of good and bad writing has changed just that the overall amount of output has grown is leaps and bounds (look at me writing with all these bad cliches!) so that it only feels like there’s more awful writing than ever before… but like others have said, there’s also more accessible good writing than ever before 🙂 I think self-publishing is a good idea that needs to be regulated better – not so that it turns into another form of traditional publishing but so that certain standards like having your book properly edited prior to hitting the “publish” button become mandatory legislation. That way you could still write your bad book but at least people would be able to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      I know what you mean, M.J., but your comment did bring that another angle – that writers in general nowadays are more informed, and writing more skilfully, with the plethora of advice available online regarding common mistakes and pitfalls. I shudder to think of what the standard of submitted manuscripts must have been like twenty years ago, with their POV shifts, grammatical snafus and downright awfulness.

      More people abiding by literary conventions creates more competition, but also raises the overall standard. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends, I suppose, on which side of the fence you’re standing on (and whether or not a professional editor is standing behind you)!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. BRMaycock
    January 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Hee hee, I keep reading the above comments, thinking ‘ Yes, very true’ etc,etc and meaning to reply to that effect but then I’d just be taking over your post! It is easier for people to buy books now,though then it comes down to the results in your older posts on whether people but more e- reader books or paperbacks. As for the people who think it should be regulated more, well, doesn’t that come down to two things? Firstly, in the same way there’s a person for everyone out there, is there not a book for everyone?ie what I like will be despised by others, hence the reason people should possibly read both1 and 5 star reviews to see if the things the reviewer hates are what they like( have found a few books like that!) the second reason is that some people aren’t grammar nazis and just enjoy the books. I have read a few recently with mahoosive errors in them and have then looked at the book’s litany of 5 star reviews and wondered why nobody mentioned that the author constantly repeated themselves or compounded certain thoughts to a ridiculous extent. The thing is that people were too busy enjoying the book to notice!One last thing- in ‘On Writing’ Stephen King spoke of his stack of rejection letters. Imagine he’d started writing in the last few years and had stopped applying before ‘the one’ accepted him. Can we say for certain he’d have gotten a chance to entertain the world as he has? Writing a book, no matter how bad, is no mean feat and should never be detracted from(in my opinion) and anyhoo, isn’t there a population boom?;)I’ll shut up now, will just finish by saying it’s great to see bloggers like you, Tara, who don’t knock self publishers. Thanks!( from an aspiring author who will be joining the self published junk in 2015;))


    • January 13, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      I wonder if Stephen King would have been rejected so many times, if he’d known earlier about the very advice he put into On Writing? But yes, persistence is the key – as long as we have the time and desire to keep at it.

      I’m the same in that I always read the low-starred reviews first. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book based on a 5* review, but I know I’ve bought several based on 2- and 3 stars. Many knicker-twisted authors would do well to be aware of this fact.

      And thanks back to you for your comments and support, Bernie – I’ll get the pom-poms dusted off for your debut this year… good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      That’s an interesting point about a book having a ton of 4 and 5 star reviews even though the grammar is terrible. I agree that there are readers out there who either don’t know any better or who don’t care. But my point about regulating editing is that these kinds of simple grammar errors might become the ‘norm’ and we want to inform and educate by example, not congratulate the illiterate (or allow society to go backwards… as you know too many people already thing irregardless is actually a word ;). Just saying. But then again, I am an English teacher and an Editor so I’m VERY biased.

      Liked by 3 people

      • January 13, 2015 at 5:30 pm

        And no – I don’t pre-edit my comments… I make typing errors like the best of em 😉


        • January 13, 2015 at 7:01 pm

          Now see, M.J., I coulda edited that for you on the QT and nobody woulda been the wiser!

          There’s no way I could give a book with terrible grammar or typos 5 stars. But I have given 4 for having a bloody good story, while saying “I would have given you 5 stars if you’d been bothered enough to get the damn thing edited”. Just like Bernie says, not everybody cares, and I try to put myself in their shoes to some extent. I don’t think it will become the norm, but I do think that some people will just not take it on board, no matter what we say.


      • Ali Isaac
        January 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm

        I only read self pubbed now, not deliberately, but because there are so many good ones out there. I have only ever come across 2 bad ones. Its a misconception that all Indie books are poorly written with attrocious spelling and grammar. Some are of course, but the ‘look inside’ soon sorts that one. I always read a few 1* and 5* reviews before buying a book, but ultimately choose based on the look inside. Most authors I have found through their blogs, so I already had a good idea what to expect.


        • January 13, 2015 at 10:38 pm

          You’re right, Ali – the ‘Look Inside’ is invaluable. I get a huge kick out of the 1* reviews too, though 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ali Isaac
            January 13, 2015 at 10:49 pm

            Me too! Love ’em. The best I ever read said something along the lines of, “This book was delivered on time so I give it 1 star. It looks like a good book but I haven’t actually read it yet.”


            Liked by 1 person

            • January 13, 2015 at 11:09 pm

              Oh yeah. There’s a genius, right there 😉

              Liked by 1 person

              • January 13, 2015 at 11:14 pm

                My only one-star review is from a member of Goodreads who gave it one star because it HADN’T been delivered yet. Obviously, she hadn’t read it because it, you know, hadn’t been delivered yet. That didn’t stop her from hanging a star on it, though. Made my day; sort of puts the fours and fives into perspective!

                Liked by 1 person

  9. January 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    There are some of us who tried over many years to get published (and to find an agent) without success. Various reasons for this, not all of which necessarily came down to quality of writing. Books with the action taking place in Scotland used to be shunned, in fact until the 1970s, and the revival of publishing in Scotland, many highly regarded books by 20th century Scottish authors could not be found in print – too parochial seemingly!

    The self-publishing revolution has given writers and readers choice. Writers on the choice of pursuing traditional roads to publishing or going for it yourself, and readers the choice of reading what publishers select to put into print, or what writers felt enthused about to write.

    I write not to make money or court fame. I write because I love doing it. I love creating an alternative reality peopled by characters that take on lives of their own. There is an indescribable thrill in watching characters and plot develop. Nor is writing easy. Writing is very hard work, challenging because you discover how much of the world you are ignorant of. Instead of yo-yo- like trips to the library, much information can now be accessed online, so making checking easier.

    So writing has also provided me with the impetus to learn more about the world, about people and their reactions as well as having to come to grips with a whole range of new skills to format my manuscript correctly, write blurb, and find my way around Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. Loads of stuff I haven’t even attempted yet, and I’m probably one of the world’s worst at promotion. But to me it’s the personal satisfaction gained, not the sales, that matters most.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      You raise a very important point. Too many people tramp all over the Interweb decrying the quality of self-published work, when most self-publishers do so rather for completely different reasons. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who insist that self-published authors are not as good as the traditionally published ones. The thing is, though, that nobody has to listen to them, and self-published readership is growing all the time.


  10. January 13, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Tara.
    Perhaps the difference between getting your writing noticed – or not – is all in the marketing. I’m thinking of sending a Press Release to Fox News about my Birmingham cop DCI Matt Proctor investigating a marauding jihadist bull creating havoc around the city centre Bullring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Genius, Tom! Can I be there when it goes viral on YouTube? Please??


  11. January 13, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Ha, loved the post and am enjoying the comments too! I think we’re incredibly fortunate as writers to be able to self publish. I write because I love to do so and am about to publish my first book, part one of a series. I’m so enjoying writing the series, am getting good feedback from my beta readers but haven’t yet been able to attract an agent, so self publishing seems like a good option. Even if only two people end up reading it, I’ll be happy (although I hope it’s a few more than that). In answer to your question, self publishing hasn’t changed me as a writer – I would have written the books anyway. All it’s done is given me the means to share my work with others and, if you’ve gone through the process of writing a book, it’s a very nice thing to have that option. Right, think I’m starting to babble so better sign off. Love reading your blog posts, and thank you for the likes on mine 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thank you, Helen. Not a babble in sight, don’t worry. And the very best of luck with your publication – do come back and tell us how you get on!


  12. annerallen
    January 13, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    ROTFL. Love the blogspam! This is very too much for being of interestings for me!

    I’ve always wondered about that “Cicero” quote. My father was a professor of Classics and had never heard of it.

    But I don’t think too many books are a problem any more than too many blogs are a problem. People find the good ones somehow. I found this blog through a tweet. Now I read it religiously, because it’s full of unique insights and fantastic humor.

    It’s also true that only a handful of authors are making a good living by writing books. They aren’t necessarily the “best” books, but they are books that fill a universal need.

    But that has always been true. People are sheep. They want to read what everybody else is reading. I’m sure that’s been happening since Cicero’s day, too. And somebody who had just written a fabulous, unique book was saying, “Why is everybody reading that Virgil guy? His Aeneid is just a rip-off of the Odyssey!”


    • January 13, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      Yep, Anne, I think the attribution to Cicero is completely bogus. But it is a quote nonetheless from someone, at least in the last century, even if it has been modified to suit. But what’s a pithy quote without relevance to its age, whatever the age? (And Kudos to Virgil, although he was probably cheesed off that he hadn’t even invented the derivative work of art.)

      I absolutely agree about finding the good ones, be they books, blogs, or photographers. We find what we like and go back for more, whether other people like it or not.

      PS. Baaaaa. 😀


  13. January 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Actually, I’d never heard that Cicero quote before. But, yeah, it does seem like everyone is writing a book nowadays. I’ve even said that myself. When you look at Smashwords homepage you can get that impression. I’ve a friend who has also self-published and he said ‘it feels like my book has floated to the bottom of the sea while others, like sediment, are slowly falling down upon it, smothering it for all time’.

    There is a radio talk show host in my town who recently made a movie called “Authors Anonymous” which is a pretty hilarious look at local writer’s groups and self-publishing. In it, there is a guy named something like Butzin (butts in?), you know, like someone butting in where they don’t belong, who is pretty delusional about his writing abilities. After he self-pubs to some outfit that mistakenly puts the back cover of his book in Chinese and other blunders he keeps checking his Amazon ratings and is impressed when his book has gone up from something like 10,241,698 to 8,956, 972 (or something like that 🙂 But I felt a bit stung in watching it. Am I like that? I hope not.

    I suppose, like baby pelicans who push their siblings out of the nest to reduce the competition, some authors want to do the same. But maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe this should be a case of survival of the fittest. Still, how to keep from being buried by the dross?

    One last interesting comment I’ve kept since I first came across it: “‘The phrase “vanity publishing” was almost certainly invented by traditional publishers years ago in order to squash the competition from entrepreneurial authors,’ says self-publisher John Locke who, between January and May this year, has sold more than 1.1 million e-books.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      That film sounds like something I’d like to see! Even if it is painful.

      And don’t worry about the so-called dross: it’s named as such by the very people who say ‘vanity publishing’. Isn’t it just that all of us writing books are now talking to each other? If it wasn’t for blogging and social media, I would only know the handful of people in my writing group. I would probably feel unique even for that, because none of us are writing in the same genre. Anne is right, we are sheep… although sheep don’t seem to ramble around bleating about how white the other fella’s wool is 😉


  14. January 13, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Tara, I was with a great friend of mine (J)when he met another friend, of his. The conversation went as follows:
    J: Hi X, what you doing?
    Friend: Oh man, I’ve given up the commercial stuff, I’m writing a book.
    J: Really, neither am I.


  15. January 13, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Just because publishing a book is easy doesn’t mean writing one has gotten any easier. True, there’s probably a lot of half-baked stories out there that could have used more time in the oven, but I think most people who always say they’ve wanted to write a book don’t realize how friggin hard it actually is. With keeping plot lines straight, building up characters, and crafting dialogue, I wonder how many people get slapped in the face by reality and quit. It requires time, patience, and sanity that a lot of people just don’t have (I know I don’t half the time).

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 13, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Great point, Beth… and not only that: the fact is that it’s bloody hard writing over 80,000 words on one story in the first place – even if you couldn’t care less about plot structure, character development or quotation marks! Too bad so many of us wittering on about it online have finished books. We need more quitters to make us feel better 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  16. January 14, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. January 14, 2015 at 2:42 am

    Ha! In New York City, even the subway rats are writing books at night when the commuters stop making all that racket above their heads, even the cockroaches are wielding quills in my favorite cafes, I haven’t spotted a dog on the streets in ages–heard the other day they’ve all gone to a canine writers’ retreat up in the Hudson Valley. Come to think of it now, we haven’t had an outbreak of bedbugs in several years…geez…
    And they’ll all be done before me!


    • January 14, 2015 at 9:16 am

      You may be joking, but seriously, Jackie, do you not think you’ve hit the nail on the head, there? An unbearably astute treatise on New York City (and by extension, the disintegration of modern society, obviously), written from the underground POV of a subway rat…? I mean, it worked for the Teenage Mutant [Insert acceptable adjective here] Turtles. Why not try a more literary slant, and measure your mantle for a Pulitzer?!


      • January 14, 2015 at 2:10 pm

        Or maybe could we use Orwell’s Animal Farm as a template over the turtles? Better ring to it, doesnt it?Gets the wind under me wings more, you’re right! I’ll shpw these swarming seething writing masses a biting social commentary and a NYTimes bestseller! If icould just have some elbow room to get typing here…

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm

          Great idea! But don’t mind the elbow room. Your discomfort will make it so much more authentic 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  18. January 14, 2015 at 2:43 am

    There are so many opportunities for writers nowadays and we should capitalise on this….my book is still not finished…#oneday. Thx for post


    • January 14, 2015 at 9:17 am

      How about #Q12015 for that book? Go and finish it, come back and tell us, and we’ll throw you a party 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 14, 2015 at 9:18 am

        That will be some party!


        • January 14, 2015 at 9:21 am

          Absolutely. As soon as you’re ready, I’ll put in the order for the frigates and the truffle pigs. Just say the word.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. January 14, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Damn it, Tara Sparling, there’s my Right-Wing Group Creating Terror Threats In Order To Blame Foreign Extremists conspiracy thriller disappearing down the proverbial jacks! Ho hum, just googling conspiracy thrillers Right-Wing Group Creating Terror Threats In Order To Blame Vajazzled Vegan Venusian Virgins. Oh, looks like there are only 3,304 of those – right, those odds are fine by me, so away we go!

    It certainly feels at times as though everyone and their mother is writing a book. I suspect most of those books would have been written anyhow with many of them (rightly or wrongly) languishing at the bottom end of a literary agent or publisher’s slush pile. My view on it is that anybody can and should write a book if that’s what they want to do, but we should all hold off publishing what we’ve written and asking people to pay good money for it until we’ve done some basic quality checks on it first! And that goes for traditional publishers too, by the way – some of the bad Kindle versions of trad published books I’ve seen lately would make a book angel weep! Anyway, must get back to my own opus magnum. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Now that you mention it Katie, I am hungry, but it is a little cold outside for ice cream. I do love magnums, though….


  20. January 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    What about half books? The sort we start and then mean to go back to? If we count them, then everybody in the world is a novelist. In fact, I’m not sure I know anybody who hasn’t started a book. You need to get out your excel files, Tara. We need bar charts on novels (finished but not published); novels (finished & published and then 2 different categories for indie and traditional); non-fiction (ditto); collections of short stories; comic strips and experimental bollocks (ditto, ditto, and ditto – really the stuff you find in the review cupboards in newspapers, you wonder what the publishers were on). And then there’s diaries….all those people who are just saving them up to hit the market with 46 Years A Wage Slave, or Death of a Printer Cartridge Salesperson. And actually, why not? If it makes people feel good?

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      And the shopping lists, Elaine. Don’t forget the shopping lists. Mine are a literary triumph of hope over reality. In fact, the mere thought of a few of my old shopping lists is enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. Even the ones I wrote in college were marvellous and not even remotely self-indulgent or embarrassing. They were haikus on speed.

      Thank you for giving me the idea for my next half book. I’m going to put you into a graph immediately. Called “People I nicked lucrative ideas off of off the Interweb”.


    • January 14, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      I could totally write a crappy half book. The best part is, everyone will be clamoring for the second half! I’ll make a zillion dollars.


      • January 15, 2015 at 12:01 am

        A besquillion zillion. I’ll be your financial advisor. First stop: investments in financial advisors.


        • January 15, 2015 at 10:14 am

          Actually I really excel at first paragraphs. I could win Nobel prizes for those. I can do world-weary or passionate. Or American observational. Second paragraphs; not so much.


          • January 15, 2015 at 10:35 am

            You could open a consultancy service! First paragraphs for hire. Seriously. There are people who would pay for that sort of thing.

            Liked by 1 person

            • January 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

              She often brooded about the last time they had met. The room with human skulls on the mantlepiece, the woman at the top of the stairs that she had barely seen. And the contract on the top of his desk – £10,000 for as many first paragraphs as she could write.


              • January 15, 2015 at 10:52 am

                Ok. Point proven. That is fecking lovely 😀

                Seriously though, there are a million writers & bloggers always trawling the net, looking for inspiration. You should crowdfund a website of first paragraphs like that, they’d kickstart the most moribund literary brain.

                Liked by 2 people

        • January 16, 2015 at 12:24 am

          It’s a good idea. How much does one pay their financial advisor for their advice on a crappy half book that hasn’t been written yet?


          • January 16, 2015 at 12:26 am

            Elaine, you could write the first paragraph.
            After that, who cares, Elaines Mom is just going to buy them all anyhow, so print those bad boys up! We’ll make a zillion besquillion!

            Liked by 1 person

          • January 16, 2015 at 8:51 am

            It’s a good deal, Naptime. Only 70% of a besquillion zillion. In the first week. You might lose the discount after that.


            • January 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm

              Hmmm… What can I do to keep that deep, deep discount?

              Liked by 1 person

              • January 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

                I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

                And my back has been acting up a bit lately, so if you wouldn’t mind me not being able to kill you right now, it’ll save a lot of hassle.


  21. January 15, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I’m too late to this thread to add anything original. So, thanks to Tara and contributors for providing a reality check with a smile. I guess we all need to find our own measures of success that don’t necessarily start with £, €, or $. X


    • January 15, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Thanks Yvonne! That’s a great idea. I’m going to start measuring my success in rainfall. Living in Ireland, I’m sure to win big.


  22. January 15, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Hello Tara,

    By sheer happenstance I came across your fascinating blogpost, as I myself am currently up to my tonsils trying to compile the first ever anthology of unfinished Irish novels and I was wondering if


    • January 15, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Absolutely, Mel. I always do. Although, funnily enough, rarely on Tuesdays.


  23. January 15, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    A new person joined our reading group last month. Finding I had published, she mentioned that she had three novels in a drawer, she had done nothing with any of them. When I had to talk to a group in an OAP home recently, I started by asking if anyone had written anything… after the silence I suggested diaries, lengthy correspondence with pen-friends, letters to papers, articles for papers, magazines… there were plenty of responses. I doubt that more people are writing just because they can self-publish. When I (thought I had) finished my first novel (c.1998?), it never occurred to me that there was any other route than mainstream publishing. I strongly suspect that most new writers still set out with this in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      That’s what I reckon, Hilary – I think there’s just so much talk about writing and publishing now that we think everyone is at it! I never would have heard of self-publishing really, if it weren’t for two in my writing group who did it themselves. There is definitely more opportunity today than there was 20 years ago.


  24. March 9, 2017 at 1:17 am

    This post reminds me of a panel where four self-published authors explained the many misconceptions that they felt were plaguing the aspiring writer. They talked about how most viewed self-publishing as a godsend, a wonderful opportunity to get past the agents and publishing houses that served as gatekeepers for so long.
    But they countered that while, yes, it is easier to get self-published, that also changes what it means to be published.
    Traditional publishing houses did serve as gatekeepers, but they also vouched for your story when they published it, and agreed to help you market it through their network of contacts.
    In many ways, whether a writer publishes through a publishing house, or through self-publishing, they still have to convince audiences to give it a chance, whether it be the dozens of readers in the publishing house, or the millions who browse online.

    Liked by 1 person

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