Yesterday, the boys and I watched the Yankees hit three grand slams in one baseball game. It was really cool to see history being made. I Facebooked about it and got some comments about the Yankees’ payroll. It’s true that they have a ton of money, and it allows them to acquire great players. And I understand why fans of teams with less financial ability get frustrated. My parents, who are Mariners fans, often call Seattle the AAA farm team for the Yankees because their best players often get taken by the Yankees. Interestingly, many other franchises have the ability to make the same kind of money, according to my daughter’s sports economics class at the university. But they don’t. Why? Because they aren’t as successful. It’s hard to get fans to come when you lose. And it’s hard to get the money to get better players if you don’t have tremendous fan support.
So why am I doing this whole baseball post when I’m not really that much of a baseball fan? I think a lot of this applies to writing and writers. It’s easy for writers to grouse when they see books that make the bestsellers’ list that they deem not well-written. But the truth is that while the playing field is level, i.e., any book can make the NYT best sellers’ list (excepting indie e-books), in another way the field is not level.
Publishing is a business. And individual books sales are greatly influenced by your publishing house. Whether they give your book the editing it needs, the book cover they select (authors get some input, but not final say so), whether they pay for good book placement in bookstores, etc. But those things are out of writers’ control. Yes, you can do marketing, and every writer does, but there are no guarantees.
And like baseball fans and players, writers have to do it for the love it. That’s where the satisfaction and the joy come from. And who knows, maybe you’ll do well—word of mouth is the greatest sales tool. Don’t forget, the Athletics took two out of the three games.