With All The Books Out There, Why Does The World Need Another?

Sometimes I lie awake at night terrified. No, it’s not scary clowns or crazed madmen that keep me awake. It’s not even Mr. Rubin’s breath. It’s books.

Or rather, the sheer number of books.

library stacks with sheldon

Pigs must be flying because Carrie finally photoshopped me. Not well, mind you, but it’s a start.

Why?

Recently I read that a “new Kindle book is added to Amazon every five minutes.”

I don’t know how accurate the statistic is, but the idea puts a lump in my throat. With all those books out there, who am I to add another?

Why bother?

Who will read it?

What’s the point?

What’s the meaning of life?

What’s…

Okay, maybe that’s over-dramatic, but you get the gist.

“Wait,” you argue. “The point of writing is enjoyment of the process, not having readers.”

Sure, sure, and the point of exercising is the delightful gasping, not the healthful benefits.

Man Working Out

Come on

Let’s be honest. We want readers. Certainly, writing itself brings joy, and stories and blog posts are fun to create. But with the amount of time and effort that goes into a book, most of us want someone to read it.

This post isn’t about marketing or how to get our books out there (or our photography, or artwork, or comics, or blogs). It’s not even about self-doubt. It’s about the fear of irrelevancy and futility. What’s the point of putting another product out there in an already glutted world?

Fortunately, I don’t wallow like this daily. Most times I think, “Hey, this book-writing thing is pretty cool.”

But other days my pragmatic self-nemesis takes over. “Hahaha, hehehe, yakyakyak, stop, Carrie, please, you’re killing me. Like you even stand a chance.”

cartoon man laughing

Do you worry about being redundant? Being swallowed into a sea of surplus? What keeps you up at night?

*     *     *

Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of The Seneca Scourgea medical thriller. For full bio, click here.

251 Responses to “With All The Books Out There, Why Does The World Need Another?”

  1. kingmidget

    If my math is correct, one e-book every five minutes is a grand total of just more than 105,000 per year. That actually doesn’t seem like a significant number, particularly when you consider this… According to Pew, in 2013, 76% of adult Americans said they read at least one book. According to the U.S. Census, there are over 225 million adults in America. If all those numbers are correct, just in America alone and just for those people who claim to read one book a year … that’s 225 million books. But, you know there are millions of us who read multiple books each year. So, easily, there are more than 1 billion books read each year … just in America. Meaning that at a minimum, there are over 9,500 readers for each and every one of those books. 🙂

    So, why have I sold fewer than 100 copies of Weed Therapy?

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I like your math. Gives me a different perspective. Thank you. Too bad the numbers seem to be skewed to a fortunate few. A good product is important, of course, but there’s plenty of good product out there, both Indie and traditionally published, that doesn’t get recognized. Luckily, the desire to create usually outweighs the feelings of futility.

      Like

  2. Joseph Nebus

    Well … a little bit of me does like the gasping and sweating and exhaustion while I’m exercising, for what that’s worth. I think that’s because I used to be quite fat, and now I’m not, and the smell of the exercise is also the smell of remaking my body into something more like what I want it to be.

    So, ah, yeah, I love writing too.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I actually love exercising as well. I do it every day and have for years. But some days it’s not so fun. Just like some days writing is hard, and the self-doubt surfaces. But that’s life in a nutshell, I suppose.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Like

  3. Audrey Kalman

    I thought it was my dark existential streak that made me uniquely prone to such despair, but apparently not. Not sure what to do about it except keep writing. And apparently that is the approach of the other sixty-five-million-nine-hundred-eighty-thousand-two-hundred-thirty-one authors who keep writing. And publishing on Kindle. 🙂

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Ha, yes, I guess we’re all in the same boat, even if there are millions of us. Besides, if we got off the boat, I suspect we’d feel like we left a vital piece of ourselves behind.

      Like

  4. jbw0123

    All the time. Well, ok, regularly. Writing has turned me into a bipolar person. It’s like walking around with gold toned sunglasses, and every now and then taking them off and seeing how things really are. Ho hum. You don’t do it just for fun, you do it mostly for readers, but you also do it because of this impulse that says thou shalt go out and create. Or is that just me? Has writing helped you in other areas of life?
    Saw a quote yesterday that egged me on, yet again: “Art is a birth, and you just can’t go to a teacher and find out how to be born… You have to struggle until that image, the one that comes out of your need to create, emerges.”

    All that said — your are well on your way. Loyal following and a great new book almost done. Ignore your dodos.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I like that quote. Thank you. I also like what you said here: “It’s like walking around with gold toned sunglasses, and every now and then taking them off and seeing how things really are.” That’s exactly it. Most of the time I’m walking about oblivious, thinking only about getting the book out there, and then a day comes where I think, “Crapola, what am I doing?” But you’re right. I need to ignore those “dodos” and get on with things. Because to not do so would make me sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Andrea Stephenson

    I sometimes get overwhelmed at the number of books as a reader but funnily enough I’ve never really thought about it as a writer. Though I’m sure if my book was out there and I was looking at sales figures I’d be worrying about mine getting seen. I think that sense of futility just comes with the territory – I sometimes thing why am I bothering, but I don’t think I could actually give up.

    Like

  6. Valentine Logar

    You write because you are good at it and you have an audience that eagerly awaits you next offering. Sure there are many other books out there, so what. They are not your books.

    Like

  7. Jilanne Hoffmann

    All the time. I write for the same reason I’m a Cubs fan. I can’t give up hope. Seriously, I write because I really don’t want to do anything else.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Yep. I know if I didn’t have a project to work on I’d be itching to have one. So I guess my post is a moot point. I’m going to write regardless. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sue Archer

    I like to think that if what I write makes a single person’s day better in some way – whether they feel entertained, or educated, or thoughtful – then what I have done is worthwhile. I treasure those moments, and I try not to be too greedy about wanting more. (Of course, I’m not trying to sell a book right now, so it’s easier for me to step back from that fear of irrelevancy.)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      I need to look at it that way. Even just giving one person a page-turning experience is satisfying. We need to not measure ourselves by unrealistic Stephen King or JK Rowling standards. (Not that I’ve ever aimed THAT high. 🙂 )

      Like

  9. Alejandro De La Garza

    What keeps me up at night? The characters in my stories nagging me to bring them to life. Or maybe those are my other personalities desperate to lead lives of their own. I don’t know now. I’ll have to sleep on that.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Whether they’re characters or your other personalities probably doesn’t matter. Either way it sounds like they’d make great fiction!

      Like

  10. memyselfandkids.com

    We don’t need another book and everything has been said. So what! You will tell the story you will tell and people will read it or not. You have created something that you are proud of and plenty of people will enjoy it. That’s enough of a reason to put it out there. I hope it finds a massive audience and shoots you to stardom! Why not you?

    Like

  11. aetherhouse

    I don’t worry so much about standing out in a sea of aspiring writers, as I think that’s just a matter of patience, practice, knowledge, and a dash of pure talent/passion. If anyone works hard enough, and is lucky enough, I truly feel they can get published.

    But of all the books that already HAVE been published, most of them worth reading by someone?…wow. It is overwhelming when you think about it. Not only must we stand out among manuscripts, but we must stand out among the other books on the shelf. But I feel like as individuals, most of us have something unique to offer. Or, if it’s not something terribly unique, it can be universally appealing to most people (ex. Gone Girl hit a nerve with married people or people who are nearing marriage, for example. The cautionary tale was somewhat unique, but the main appeal was how universal the message could be).

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Coming up with something unique certainly helps, and as a reader, I’m glad there are so many new books. Lots of choices for us. It’s just more daunting from a writer’s perspective.

      For the most part, I agree that if someone works hard enough and has a good product, they can get published, but if one wants to go the traditional route, it’s more difficult than it used to be. So many other factors weigh in now–what’s the author’s online presence like, is the book a series, has the author self-published, will this book sell, etc. I think traditional publishers are more wary about what they’ll take now, and they tend to stick with what they know has succeeded in the past. Also, as you mention, I think a bit of luck is probably involved to. Being in the right place at the right time, so to speak. 🙂

      Like

  12. Pam Huggins

    When people say they do a creative thing like writing, photography, comics, etc. JUST for the joy of it… I don’t get that. I don’t get that AT ALL.

    I don’t question THEIR motives- if you want to do something just for the joy of it… have at it. I eat chocolate for the joy of it too.

    But me? I create for the joy of it, yes, but mostly I do it so OTHERS will want to see it. Does that make me shallow? Frankly, my dear…. I don’t give a damn. (Being saucy sounds a lot more confident, don’t you think?)

    Why would I put all of this effort into something unless I was getting something back? Money gives me joy too and eventually, I want a revenue stream from my creative efforts. (Actually I want a revenue stream right now….)

    Steven Pressfield would say not writing (or whatever) because there is already too many books out there is simply a form of resistance. It’s an inner demon, so to speak, holding you back and keeping you from realizing your true talents and desires. I would agree.

    Now then, get back to work Carrie. I can’t wait to read your next book!

    (Another great blog Carrie. You nailed it!)

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      “…not writing (or whatever) because there is already too many books out there is simply a form of resistance. It’s an inner demon, so to speak, holding you back and keeping you from realizing your true talents”—Oh, Pam, you just provided me with free therapy with that one. That makes great sense. A way for us to cop out when the going gets tough. Thank you so much for the food for thought.

      And I’m with you. I want people to read and enjoy what I create. Yes, I love the process, and I can’t imagine not doing it now, but if someone told me “you can keep writing books, but not a single person will read them,” I doubt I’d keep carrying on. And yes, if that makes us saucy (agreed–that’s better than shallow…) than so be it. Thanks for the great comment, Pam!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Exile on Pain Street

    Every writer wants eyes and harbors secret desires for fame. It’s human nature. Anyone who says they only write to satisfy themselves is lying to you and, worst of all, themselves.

    I used to walk up and down the aisles of The Strand bookstore in New York. “18 Miles Of Books!” Seriously. That’s their slogan. I’d wonder where all those authors are now. It’s too dreary to dwell on. But what are you going to do? Stop writing? Ha! I’d like to see you try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carrie Rubin

      “But what are you going to do? Stop writing? Ha! I’d like to see you try.”—-Exactly. I have too much stuff floating around in my head to stop.

      As a reader, the idea of “18 Miles of Books” excites and thrills me. As a writer, it overwhelms me. So I guess I’ll just keep my head in my laptop and not worry about it.

      Like

      • Exile on Pain Street

        I’ve tried to stop blogging a few times but I can’t! I get dissatisfied with the quality of my posts or my ego attacks me for not having a larger audience. A few weeks will go by and I’ll crawl on my hands and knees begging her to take me back.

        Like

  14. battlewagon13

    I completely agree with you on this. I still can’t figure out how to get more people to see my blogs, much less a book. Then I waiver between am I doing this for me or am I just trying to get readers. I come down to the fact that if just a few people seem to love it and read all the time, then it keeps it worth it.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      With all the blogs out there, it can be difficult to get attention. I suspect it comes down to reciprocity. Visiting a lot of blogs brings more people around. Of course, that also takes time. I devote a good deal of time to social media each day. If I still had a full-time job outside of writing, I couldn’t keep up like that, so I really admire those of you who have full-time jobs and still blog. But in today’s world for writers, social media is part of the job. I just read yesterday that most agents will Google you right after reading your query letter. They want to make sure you have an active online presence. Yikes. It appears putting out a good product isn’t enough.

      Like

  15. Gwen Stephens

    The same thoughts run through my mind all the time, and I’m not even ready to publish anything. If I ever make it to that point, some years down the road, imagine how many more books will be out there! (Let’s see, 12 books an hour times 24 hours in a day…) it’s too overwhelming to think about!

    For now, I do this for the joy of writing. I jump out of bed every morning, hours before the sun comes up, to spend some time with my WiP before my real day has to begin. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to publish, but I like thinking about it — the what if’s. Sure, I fear rejection, oblivion, that this will all be for nothing, but if I think about it too long, it sucks all the joy out of something I love. So I just get up every day and write. I’ll worry about all that other stuff later. 🙂 Great post!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thanks, Gwen. I admire the fact you get up so early to write. When I worked on my first book, I could only do snippets here and there because of my job, but I did it after the kids were in bed. Couldn’t drag myself up at four am. Getting up at six to exercise was cruel enough. Ugh.

      But I think we do it because even though we know it’s unrealistic to expect any big outcome, NOT doing it would be worse. Not writing might make us feel like a part of ourselves was missing.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Topaz

    Perhaps there are millions of books out there, but if none of them are yours then the world is most certainly missing out on an artistic voice. I try not to think about it in terms of what other people have already done, but rather in terms of what I can bring to the table. What do I have that no one else does?

    And then there are the what-ifs: what if the book you write changes someone’s life? What if it inspires them to follow their dream? What if your work touches another person? There have been so many books that shaped who I am – it’s so cool to think that my book could shape someone else’s life.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Great outlook to have! With my second novel, I tapped into a theme I haven’t really seen done in fiction, at least not thrillers, so what you say about “What do I have that no one else does?” hopefully applies. Now that I’m ready to query it more, we’ll see if others agree…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Cathy Ulrich

    Well, Carrie, I’m sure you know the answer to the meaning of life which is 42, but I am truly looking forward to the publication of your next book. I loved “The Seneca Scourge.” I’m planning to reread it in the next month. Here’s my take: as our World and Universe expand, there are more and more unique experiences to savor and reading great fiction from talented writers such as yourself is one of those rich and unique experiences.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you, Cathy. You are very kind. I will try to absorb your optimism. 🙂 It’s much easier to do as a reader–I love to read, and I love having so many books available. It’s more overwhelming as a writer.

      Thank you for the warm fuzzies about The Seneca Scourge. It’s my starter novel. No great literary feat, but at least it got me out of the gate. 🙂

      Like

  18. Marti

    Coffee – that’s what keeps me up at night. Can’t touch it after noon otherwise I’m doomed to count sheep all night long.

    On a more serious note, I don’t think have anything to worry about, but I do understand the self doubt concept. Just ignore Mr-I-think-I -know-it-all (didn’t you do a post about him many moons ago?) and plough on!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      This is more about futility than self-doubt, but they’re certainly on the same spectrum, so I will indeed try to ignore him. Thank you. 🙂

      As for coffee, I’ve never been able to drink it. I try to get my caffeine from tea, but I do like a diet soda here and there…

      Like

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