First published on http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/
Everyone knows the secrets of the world’s non-celebrity authors. The obstinate scribblers who attend the nation’s writing conferences each year, clutching manuscripts with more dog ears than Crufts.
The poets whose publication owe more to vanity than sound commercial or literary judgement. And, according to Stephanie herself, the non-celebrity element also includes a spine-chilling 97 per cent of just about everyone else who ever got into print or has been brought to eBook.
“There’s only 70 UK authors who have sold over a million books since 1998,” she says.
She knows this because she has interviewed the living ones for her latest book, Celebrity Authors’ Secrets, as part of her mission in life to ensure more authors make more money.
Via a circuitous route which included training as a journalist, broadcasting for Sky, on the BBC and ITV And Anglian TV, gaining an MA from the prestigious University of East Anglia Creative Writing course, working for the Arts Council setting up literary festivals, teaching in a university at Oxford and eventually starting her own literary consultancy, Stephanie realised the awful truth.
Which is, namely, that you can be ‘incredibly intelligent and at the top of your profession’, you can write ‘amazing books’ and be a brilliant writer but that will all be for nothing if you don’t have a handle on the marketing.
Many of these people, Stephanie says, think that: “You just put a book on Amazon and it automatically sells, they don’t realise you have to promote it, work at selling it and you could have the best book ever but if you’re not doing anything to promote it, it’s not going to be sold.”
And if you feel that’s a little venal, consider that it was the great Dr Johnson himself who once declared that: “Only a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
Through the years Stephanie says she’s seen amazing books written by brilliant writers who become disillusioned because they don’t make money, yet there are other books: “Which are actually not the most amazing books, not terrible, but not amazing, which are doing very well because the authors work at marketing.”
Still not convinced? Stephanie fires out a volley of discomfiting statistics.
“The average print run of a book will be 3,000, and Nielsen figures show that the average book in its lifetime sells 200 copies,” she says.