Monday, January 26, 2015

No, There Aren't Too Many Writers - Part Two

In my last post I took apart the meme that "too many writers" means that all writers are forced to sell themselves cheaply, because of the "economic laws" of supply and demand in the labor pool. This idea is not only fundamentally incorrect, but it is being promoted by people in the old publishing industry who know it's not true. Their goal is to diminish the importance of the self-publishing revolution and to convince writers that they have little value. Unfortunately, many writers, uncertain about their own prospects in a highly competitive market, believe it.

Obviously, not all writers will succeed, if their goal is to support themselves solely by writing. There is no guarantee that anyone who enters any business will succeed. And the more profitable a business is the more competition there will be. The entertainment industry, of which publishing and fiction writing is a part of, can be highly profitable. But it is also extremely risky, complex and doesn't fit into simple business cliches about supply and demand. Self-publishing also operates by a completely different set of economic rules than work-for-hire writing. When you self-publish, you are the boss of your own small business, and that also brings unique pitfalls and great opportunities. I'll talk more about that in my next post.

In this post I want to focus on how writing, and all creative work, is different from other types of labor. Specifically why: MORE WRITERS MEANS WRITERS GET PAID MORE. (Not less.)

To quickly review: it is not true that if too many people want a type of job, the job will eventually pay little because of "supply and demand." In fact, it's usually the opposite, the reason people are lining up for a job is that it's a great job. That makes sense, right? But it is true, in most cases, if more people want a job, the harder it is to get it. If three hundred people want an entry level job at Zappos, your basic odds of getting it are 300-1. Having an inside track, a winning personality, or great skills might improve your odds. But if there are less people applying for the same position, your chances certainly improve. If you have a good chance of getting the job at 300-1, you have an even better chance of getting it if less people apply and the odds are 20-1. If only five people apply you've got a much better chance.

This kind simplistic job odds math might make the "two many writers" meme sound plausible. If there are only ten writing jobs available, and a thousand people want them, then logically your chances are 100-1. If less people wanted those jobs, your chances would improve. Right? Well, not really.

Competition is not only a good thing for writers, but it's critical if writers hope for fame and fortune, or even just a nice living. Yes, some writers will fail, but the more writers there are, the more likely it is that many will be able to achieve their dreams, and that a lot more will get pretty darned close.

Because the business of entertainment, and self-publishing specifically, doesn't work like other industries. In most industries, demand for entry level jobs is mostly an indication that the jobs pay well and the company has a good reputation. If a high tech company, like Zappos, that has a policy of paying employees well, opens up in your small town and you can get in line first, you have a better chance. If you can do it before word gets out that there are great jobs to be had, all the better. If you wait too long, or word gets out too quick, you might find yourself with too much competition and your odds go down.

In some other professions, like law, medicine, science and high tech, job opportunities are created and restricted by the amount of education, certification and training required. Generally, a lawyer fresh out of law school will benefit if there is a shortage of lawyers and his job prospects will be hurt if there are too many unemployed lawyers. People in those professions have to make a decision about their job prospects years in advance. If the choose well, they could be in the cat bird seat upon getting their law degree. If they choose badly, they could be scrambling to compete for lesser jobs.

Entertainment, however, works completely differently. In entertainment, supply often creates demand. In fact, that is the hallmark of successful entertainment. Supply creates demand. Let's repeat that: SUPPLY CREATES DEMAND. There are little old ladies (and a lot of other people) that had no idea they wanted to read about naughty S&M games until they heard about 50 Shades of Grey. Then they rushed out to buy up millions of copies of the book. The author of that book, E. L. James, didn't take any jobs or money away from anyone. She created money and jobs. A great job for herself (famous writer/cultural icon/soon to be film producer) and made millions. But she also created tons of jobs and money for other writers that quickly cranked out rip off versions of the story, satires of the story, non-fiction about S&M and other material related to it. She also created money for writers who had already written their own similar stories, and writers that wanted to write similar stories, and were finally able to market them thanks to the growing popularity of the genre. She even contributed to the growing popularity of ebooks and ebook readers in general.

I could pick a thousand similar examples, many in fiction writing, going back hundreds of years through the history of literature, but this is common sense, right? When Edgar Allan Poe created the modern mystery story with the invention of a detective character who smoked pipes in Murder of the Rue Morgue he didn't take any money or jobs away from other writers. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle followed that model with Sherlock Holmes, he didn't take jobs or money away from other writers. When Raymond Chandler build upon that foundation to create hard boiled detectives, he didn't take any jobs or money away from other writers. Instead, they all created wealth for themselves and created jobs and money for the writers that followed in the detective genre. Conventions were established, story techniques were refined and audiences were built. Supply created demand.

Those trying to twist economic "laws" to say that too many writers will destroy the self-publishing market either don't know anything about entertainment economics or are simply lying for their own ends (probably the later). The meme is transparently false, but unfortunately it distracts from the true story about opportunities in self-publishing. That is likely it's true purpose, to shift the debate from the good things about self-publishing (self-expression, entertainment, independence, financial rewards) to discussing the negatives (not everyone gets rich). The biggest issues facing self-publishers are nuts and bolts stuff like which genres are currently popular, which cover designs attract customers, how to handle pricing and advertising, etc. But since a debate on global economic theory has been thrust upon us, let's take advantage of it to really understand the big picture. Because if you understand real economics and the global economy, particularly with regard to entertainment, the fact that more and more writers are joining the self-publishing industry is unquestionably a great thing.

Here are some real principles of economics:

  1. Standard of living depends on a country's production.
  2. Differences in living standards lies in differences in productivity.
  3. High productivity leads to high standard of living.
  4. To boost living standards productivity must be raised.

Note that there's nothing in any of that about supply and demand. The key is productivity. Standard of living basically means money. You want to make money, increase productivity. More people writing ebooks means more productivity (more breakthrough books that attract readers) and that will lead to larger audiences and more sales.

How does this work? Imagine a valley that is divided by two tribes, one group of farmers and one group of hunters. By tradition the leaders, let's call them Pubs, refuse to allow trade between the two groups because they want to keep all the food to themselves. When the farmers try to hunt, the hunters scare off the prey, when the hunters try to farm, the farmers destroy their fields. This has been going on for some time, but the problem is that during the winter the hunters don't have enough food, because it is hard to hunt in the snow. The farmers don't have enough food in the summer, when the crop is starting to grow. So both tribes get fed up and overthrow their leaders. The new leaders, lets call them Indies, start trading. During the summer the hunters share excess meat and during the winters the farmers share excess corn. Currencies are developed to help the trade.

Then what happens? The hunters have motivation to work harder and produce more than they need. Not just hunting, but tanning leather, learning to dry meat, and reason to cut back waste. The farmers have the same motivations, learning to make baskets with corn stalks; they start creating jewelry for trade, clothing, etc. This creates abundance, the population can grow, they can begin trading with other valleys and eventually create the internet and sell ebooks. This is the way the world works.

Now, can things go wrong along the way? Sure, the Traditional Pubs can return to power and screw it up again by trying to control trade for their private benefit. Some individuals can try to manipulate the market by eliminating competition. And yes, there will be good harvests and bad harvests and ups and downs along the way. (Original efforts to develop the internet with corn husks failed.) But productivity is ALWAYS the key to long term growth.

The "two many writers meme" wants to ignore thousands of years of economic evidence that increased productivity builds economies to focus on what might go wrong. They are found of citing the "Tragedy of the Commons," an economic theory published in 1968 by Garrett Hardin, who was not formally trained in economics. The gist of that is that whenever a lot of people are involved in anything it must be doomed to failure. It is a widely disputed theory with a really lurid history and connections to a lot of nasty things like scientific racism and genocide. Hardin used it to predict the world would end due to overpopulation and advocated famine, war and forced sterilization as a solution. I’ll save all that for another post some day, but it’s safe to say it is an unsound economic theory that bad people grab onto when they want to do bad things or kill good things. More importantly, it is always, always wrong in predicting real life outcomes. If it was true there would be no businesses, churches, non-profits, armies, movies, cities or civilization. That critics are citing it is virtually proof that self-publishing will grow and thrive.

The real economic theory that applies to all markets, including ebooks, is Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” which basically says that in free markets people will eventually figure out solutions to problems of supply, demand and production. There is dispute about how quickly it works, how well it works in some situations, what its effects are on wealth distribution, but no serious economist disputes that the basic theory is correct. If it wasn’t, and the world worked the way the Tragedy of Commons proposes, all free markets would have collapsed centuries ago.

So when our hypothetical farmers start producing too much corn they will logically shift to growing other crops or finding different jobs like basket weaving. If there are too many hunters, some will start fishing or panning for gold. Logically, this had to happen for society to have progressed to it’s current state. The invisible hand worked.

The creative arts also are subject to the same forces that guide the invisible hand, but they are quite special compared to other forms of labor. Artists are creators, with all the godlike implications of that. They can create value simply from ideas. They can take corn husks and turn them into baskets. They can make baskets into games and into works of art. The different between the value of one basket and another can be simple details, or even just the fact that it was created by an admired person.

Some of this can even be done with basic commodities. Special varieties of corn can be developed; it can be packaged attractively and branded successfully. But the creative artist simply has a great deal more tools at their disposal for creating value. (Yes: creative, creating.) There will still be ups and downs in markets for creative work, but the talented artist has greater ability to adapt to them.

Because creative arts are not essential, like food and shelter, an artist's ability to sell their work depends enormously on people having disposable income. However, modern society, at least in developed countries, has solved that issue for most people. But if one were looking for reasons to be worried about larger economic issues in regard to self-publishing, the ups and downs in the overall economy in the United States and the world are a much greater concern than the growing number of ebooks or competition among writers.

In fact, as I explained before, competition is a good thing because it leads to creative innovations that can build audiences. Some artists might not want completion (I love completion), but even if you don't like it, it is simply the logical outcome of the success in any market. If you want a large sailing boat, it is going to be heavier than a smaller boat made of the same materials. Do you want a large boat or a small boat? If you want a large one, it will be heavy. If you want a large market for a product, there will be competition. Even in markets that are successfully monopolized, competition bites around the edges and eventually breaks through. (For example: major film studios controlled visual entertainment, broadcast networks rose to challenge film, cable rose to challenge broadcast, then online video rose to challenge cable. Postal services dominated mail delivery, telegraphs competed with mail, the telephone competed with the telegraph, texting competes with the telephone, etc.)

Let's suppose that in our farming and hunting village, thanks to the takeover by the Indy leaders, there is an abundance of food and disposable income. A market for handmade baskets develops and more and more creative artists enter the market. Surely at some point everyone will have a beautiful basket and the market will collapse, right? No, if there is enough disposable income, some people will collect baskets. As they collect them, they acquire a taste for better, rarer, and more expensive baskets. Baskets will be made to store other baskets. Artists will put more and more time into even more unique baskets. The best known artists will be able to charge more simply by virtue of their name value. But won't that mean more artists enter the market? Of course, and that's a great thing. Because those artists will have to study baskets to learn how to make them, often buying them. They will take classes from other artists, providing additional income. They will create fresh excitement in the market and innovation.

But surely, at some point it all has to collapse if too many artists try to enter the market? No. It doesn't. The market might fall if there is a food shortage and disposable income drops. If that doesn't happen there is a danger that people lose interest in baskets and start collecting pottery, jewelry or other crafts. (Just as the real threat to ebooks is competition from other entertainment like video and games.) But it is far more likely people will lose interest if the market is dominated by a few older artists, who keep creating the same things, than if new artists steadily enter the market and generate new ideas and enthusiasm. If the population grows the market can grow with it. If the village can expand trade to other villages, then the market can grow even faster.

Let's take the idea to the extreme. Every single child in the community is taught how to make baskets and encouraged to make baskets for fun in their spare time. Instead of ruining the market, this would create generation after generation of people interested in the craft. The most talented would be revered because everyone would have a sophisticated idea of the work involved. In a free market, only the best would be able to charge for their work, and others would simply move on or create for fun. This isn't just random speculation, it is the nature of human culture. Certain art forms have extra value in different cultures, the skills for them are taught in schools, broad audiences are built and famous artists are rewarded. The Japanese have a culture appreciates fine handmade pottery, and many people create it for fun, but does not stop the best artists from making money creating it. On the contrary, in Japan it is far more likely an artist who makes pottery will be able to sell their work for a high price than in America where handmade pottery is less common and less appreciated.

In the 17th Century, a love of opera music swept over Italy and eventually took the world by storm. It became one of the most popular forms of entertainment. At the height of it's popularity in Venice, when a new opera would open, by the end of the night every gondolier cruising every canal would be singing new songs from it. (It was the 17th Century version of copyright piracy.) There were singers in every cafe, beggars singing on street corners and for small amounts the rich could hire excellent singers for private concerts. With music everywhere, with singers singing the exact same songs you could hear in a professional opera theater, did that mean that ticket sales collapsed and professionals could not be paid? No, the opposite took place. The huge popularity of opera made the best artists rich.

A "too many artists" person might argue that at some point opera fell out of fashion. Yes, after several hundred years it stopped being seen as popular entertainment. But even today there is more opera being performed on Earth than ever before, and more opera singers, professional and amateur. As a percentage of the population, it is much, much smaller than in the 17th and 18th century. It's declining popularity came after it stopped appealing to the masses and became a "refined" art form for the elite and upper classes. (Particularly by focusing on past opera compositions, instead of new originals.)  That lead to it's slow decline as more popular forms of musical theater took over. There is a scary parallel with opera and big publishing. The push away from popular genre writing by large publishing houses in the 1960's, in favor of promoting unpopular but "important" literary fiction, slowly drove casual readers away.  Published fiction was increasingly viewed as an elitist art form. Thankfully, the rise of ebooks and self-publishing is bringing back genre writing and readership is rising again.

The critical issue for writers hoping to make a living writing fiction is how popular ebooks are with the public. There is no fixed "demand" for ebooks, the number sold will rise and fall with based on the popularity of specific writers and genres. (There is also a connection to the popularity of types of ereaders like Kindles and iPads.) Popularity is a two edged sword, it will make more money available, but will also lead to more competition. There is no real life situation where an art form becomes wildly popular but only a limited number of artists become interested in pursuing it. The fact that many, many writers are rushing into self-publishing is a healthy indication of the rising popularity of ebook fiction. It increases the likelihood that more of those writers will earn a good living.

Performing arts (and I would include sports in that) are a little different than creative arts, but jobs and wages in those industries also rise and fall based on popularity.

Let's suppose a young kid, Buckaroo, dreams of being a rodeo clown… and wants to make a decent living… and hopes to get rich some day. Rodeo events in the United States have about $80,000,000 in ticket sales each year. To keep it simple, let's say that represents 10 million rodeo fans. And lets say about $1 million in ticket sales is directly related to rodeo clown popularity and gets passed along to rodeo clowns. Despite the danger, the skills and art required, rodeo clowns get as little as $100-$200 for freelance day work (and, like writers, they sometimes have to work for free to break in). A successful professional might make as much as $50,000 a year, a living wage, and a few popular clowns break into six figures. If the money were evenly distributed there would be room for about 20 rodeo clowns to make $50,000 a year. But, short of a union, it's more likely only a few make a living wage, some make more than that, and others much less. Let's say there are 100 rodeo clowns in the market, some making very little or working part time, and maybe a dozen that make a real living.

So if Buckaroo wants to be a rodeo clown, odds are he has to give up on any realistic hope of making a living, unless he has an inside track, works harder than anyone else, or is one hell of a great rodeo clown. What could change that situation?

Let's say there is a terrible rodeo accident and ten of the top best rodeo clowns are injured and have to retire. Does that improve the kid's chances, since there are less rodeo clowns in the job market? Not really, there are still 90 other clowns scrambling for jobs. While theoretically the odds have improved, it will still come down to whether Buckaroo has an inside track, works harder than anyone else, or is a hell of a rodeo clown.  In fact, there is a danger ticket sales might go down, even for good, if some of the most popular clowns retire and the new clowns don't measure up.

Same thing applies if the rodeo industry institutes a gatekeeper system. Perhaps requiring recommendations and limiting applicants. Let's say they try to limit the number of rodeo clowns to 50 so they can each make more money. Well, that still means at least 50 clowns won't get jobs. And if Buckaroo doesn't have an inside connection to get past that gate, or doesn't work hard to get past it, or isn't such a great clown they let him through, a gatekeeper system won't help his chances. It will almost surely hurt them.  Moreover, with less clowns actively competing, there is a danger there will be less innovation in the industry.

Now, let's imagine a really amazing rodeo clown, Cowpoke, hits the circuit. Cowpoke is funny, he's charismatic, great in the ring and great with fans. On top of that, he's super savvy about social media.  Next thing you know, everyone is talking about him and he gets on the talk show circuit. He does sketches on Jimmy Kimmel that go viral on You Tube. He writes a book about his adventures as a rodeo clown. People who had no previous interest in rodeo start talking about him.  Next thing you know, ticket sales are up not only for the shows were he performs but for rodeo in general. Suddenly, instead of their being $1 million dollars in rodeo clown related revenue, there is $5 million and then $20 million. The number of clowns who could potentially make a $50,000 a year living goes from 20 to 200.

Of course, with the extra fans will come increased competition, because some of those new fans will dream about becoming rodeo clowns themselves. If the Buckaroo is going to succeed, he will still need connections, hard work and talent.  However, he is now entering a profession with a lot more money available.  In success, his chances of making a living greatly improve and his chances of getting rich greatly improve. Also, Cowpoke has shown the way.  Buckaroo can follow his example in using social media and possibly even topple his popularity.  If Cowpoke is smart, he will welcome the competition to help build the industry even larger.

Note than nothing in this very plausible scenario requires Cowpoke to charge a lot for his services.  Let's suppose Cowpoke is the son of a rich rancher and works for free.  Let's go one step further and say he actually pays to promote himself, that was what got him all the attention in the first place.  None of that hurts Buckaroo.  In fact, Cowpoke working for free, spending money to promote the industry, is absolutely in Buckaroos interest.

This is why it is so crazy when writers complain that other writers are giving their works away for free.  They are devoting their time and energy to help build the business and create fan bases.  Yes, it means your writing is going to have to be really good to compete, but it had to be good anyway to compete with all the older books, and all the new television, movies and other forms of entertainment. Any writer wishing to sell books is already competing with the Avengers films, with Wicked on Broadway, with the Lord of the Rings books and downloads.  Competition is already there.  The most important thing for the self-publishing industry right now is to get people into the habit of downloading and reading ebooks.  One way to do that is to get people excited about writing books themselves (or telling their families about it).

There's an old Russian joke that goes like this: Ivan is very jealous of Yuri because Yuri has a goat and Ivan doesn't. Yuri gets milk from the goat, he grooms the goat to get hair to make blankets, he takes the goat on walks and he keeps talking about how great the goat is. An angel comes down to Ivan one day and offers to make Ivan's dream come true. Ivan smiles and says, "You're going to kill Yuri's goat?"

Those who are upset about there being too many writers want to kill other people's goats, rather than focus on how to get their own goat.

While the rodeo clown business is relativity small, Basketball is a huge industry. The NBA generates about 5 billion in revenue a year. Only a small portion of that actually goes to the players, never-the-less, top players can make millions. But in order for those players to make millions, they have to face amazing competition from hundreds of thousands of kids who dream of playing professional basketball. But that is a good thing for the industry, because all those kids practicing basketball in schools and back lots and watching games are a huge part of the popularity of the sport. They bring in revenue, both by buying tickets themselves, but also promoting the game with others. Wishing for riches, or even a decent living, in entertainment, but not wanting competition, is like wanting a fruit tree without leaves.

This is also true of writing, perhaps more so than any other form of entertainment. Because, to a large extent, writing in modern civilization is the equivalent of our farming village's basket weaving. In developed countries, almost every kid is taught how to write. It is the foundation of eduction. Obviously, teaching writing is important to teach kids how to read. But it is not difficult to imagine a totalitarian society that emphasized reading and discouraged writing and self-expression. On the other hand, in modern life kids are encouraged at a young age to read stories, to write stories, and to study literature. This is a huge built in fan base. This is the potential market for buying ebooks: virtually everyone in America and a growing number learning English around the world. We have barely touched the surface of how big the ebook industry can grow.  But it is the height of foolishness to hope that as the industry grows, none of these potential customers and fans will consider writing their own books. Moreover, anyone who wants a healthy industry would want as many writers as possible.

Promoters of the "too many writers meme" do not want a healthy industry. Many want a closed system that caters to the elite and are willing to sacrifice fans, popularity and revenue in order to get it. That was the direction the big publishing industry was going, and it was bad business motivated by snobbery and cronyism. They were willing to accept a shrinking industry so that a smaller number of selected writers could feel special about themselves, even as fiction lost it's larger cultural relevance. They wanted to take literature down the same path opera took, away from being popular entertainment toward something only the elite could appreciate and participate in. With self-publishing, we have a chance to reclaim this wonderful art form for the masses.

There are also some who have already benefited from the success of self-publishing who wish they could pull up the ladder now that they have gotten to the top.  And others who are just starting out who  think they would do better without competition.  But competition is the price of popularity.  If new artists stop flocking to the industry, the industry will decline and there will be less for everyone to fight for.  Recent history has proven that those who enter a rising market will do better.  Those who got into self-publishing early reaped rewards as first movers.  They should continue to have an advantage.  Those coming in now should wish for more to follow.  That's their best hope of doing well.  There is less net competition in a rising market because it takes a while for the word to get out that there is money to be made.  But as the market declines, while less new blood comes in, there is still a large number of players who got in during the growth.  The market will almost always decline faster than the number of people exiting it.  I bring this all up because promoting self-publishing among new writers is critical for it to keep growing.  And if it keeps growing, everyone will do better on average.

I mentioned in the previous post that this was personal for me, and it is. I grew up with dyslexia and always found reading difficult. I had given up on the idea of reading for pleasure as a kid until I stumbled upon the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs in used books shops and then pulp novels from the 30's and 40's and sci-fi. Short, fun, entertaining (cheap) books that make it worth the extra concentration. In junior high and high school I poured through books like that. When I got to college I tried to take writing classes and dreamed of being a novelist. But the literary fiction being pushed by my professors turned me off. I then abandoned the idea of pursuing a career after I heard countless stories of writers submitting manuscript after manuscript to slush piles only to get rejection after rejection.

To the elitists who controlled the industry, that was a positive outcome. I gave up my dream of being a novelist, leaving more room for those who did have the inside connections to go around the slush piles. But to the health of the industry, it was not good. Not that it mattered that they had lost me as a writer, but they had lost me as a customer, almost for good.

Because I basically stopped reading fiction. I didn't have time to comb through used book shops searching for pulp novels I hadn't read. Every time I walked into a bookstore all I saw was pretentious literary fiction prominently displayed, along with a few generic thrillers, detective stories and romances. I thought, if this is what is really popular among regular readers, then I guess I don't want to be a regular reader.

That slowly changed with the ebook revolution. At first I had no interest in ebooks, because I just assumed it was more of the same but in a digital format. I only downloaded some free books to play with the technology. But then I found that some of my beloved pulp classics were available and started to read them. Amazon started recommending new writers in similar genres. Then I learned about the self-publishing revolution and also learned about the dysfunctional side of the traditional publishing world. They weren't serving readers, they were serving the establishment.They had stopped focusing on the business of selling great stories and saw themselves as arbiters of literary taste. Self-publishing was way around them. I suddenly released I could chase my dream again. I could write a novel, the kind I would enjoy, and publish it myself.

So far, I haven't done that. I've spend three years working on it. But during those three years I've bought dozens of books I simply wouldn't have bough otherwise. I've bought books on writing, on self-publishing. I've bought genre fiction to study the form and I've bought books from writers who are self-publishing to check out what they are doing. I have also started reading again for pleasure. I have yet to sell a single book myself, but I'm helping support a lot of other writers.

And I'm not the only one. People worried about competition need to realize there is no clear line between their customers, their fans and their competitors. It's all mixed together. But more competitors always means more potential fans. Out of a million fans, tens of thousands will dream of being a writer. Only a few thousand will actively pursue it. Only a few dozen will succeed. To wish away those few dozen competitors is to wish away the million fans.

Entertainment is different than other industries because for it to generate money there has to be a fan base to support it. The bigger the fan base, the more money. Much of what entertainment is selling is a dream. Star Trek fans dream of being Captain Kirk or Spock and go to conventions dressed as the characters. But that is not enough for all of them. Some shoot videos of their own Star Trek episodes, some write fan fiction. That many fans are inspired to create is a natural and healthy part of pop culture. Of course self-publishing is encouraging people to become writers. It's popularity is growing. The only time to worry is when people stop being interested.

It is my belief that we are just at the beginning of a much, much larger market. Any real investigation into the contributing economics would indicate that. The number of people in the world is still growing. The number of people who read English is growing even more rapidly. The number of people who have internet access is growing even more rapidly. The number of devices that can read ebooks is growing. The amount of money Amazon makes from ebooks is growing. The number of competitors to Amazon in the ebook market is still growing.

Most of the wannabe writers will tinker around the edges and give up. Let us all hope that they remain fans, which means, let us hope they continue to dream that maybe some day they'll get back to it. Let us hope that in addition to teaching literature, that every high school teaches kids how to self-publish their own books. It would be great for the industry. Those kids would sell books, buy books, and create innovation and enthusiasm. Likewise, let's hope that when every teacher, lawyer, soldier and other professional retire they write books and self-publish. Along with every struggling waitress and janitor. It can only grow the industry for the benefit of all (even the selfish elites who are currently complaining). Let's have people singing about self-publishing on every street corner.

Mackay Bell

More to come soon in Part Three about the advantages of working freelance, the benefits of writing, and why it's okay to want to get rich.

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