The Foxy Armadillos
August 2018 by V. R. Duin


To the den, the farmers couldn't pass.
They had no armor plates, alas,
And to wriggle through the bramble
Was an awful prickly, painful scramble.
(“The Foxy Armadillos”)

With no barrier to entry, everyone can publish a book, so expect competition for sales and revenue.

Whether handwritten or word processed, with or without images, with or without a specialized book printer, virtually anyone can cheaply write and publish a book. Books may be created as e-books, board books, audio books, paperback and hardcover print books. Anyone can test the market with a published title. There is no barrier to entry. There are no education, licensing, or certification requirements for writing a book. There are no regulations specific to the writing, publishing or sale of books. To the contrary, there are many companies involved in the self-publishing business so everyone can publish a book. Barriers to entry deter new competitors, by imposing a cost element on new entrants, which those already in the business do not share. Books can be sold or given away.

Established writers do not retaliate against new writers. Unless writers expect competition, they will not prepare for the challenge. The only specifications for a book's length or format are the simple need to size it into a printable or Web-ready unit. Self-publishing takes power from select executives at big companies and delivers it to fans. Self-publishing printing houses offer standard book sizes. Book publishing applications make it easy for beginners to format the finished product. With no barrier to entry, the publishing field is becoming very crowded. Writers must expect competition, and have a strong internal and/or spiritual drive to persevere in the face of adversity. Books are not a coveted item. There is no shortage of supply. Moreover, writers with books that become best sellers cannot protect these positions by building barriers to entry against newcomers.

Every writer must expect competition and find a way to rise above it. A million books are published in the United States, each year. Most of these are self-published. The market for these books may have stalled. Readers and writers are losing faith in the results. The books go unread and the writers and the self-publishing houses need another source of income. Publishing houses lure new writers with freebies. The do-it-yourself book layout template often is free of charge. Once the design is done, the printer gets paid for the quantities and qualities of books and other print items ordered. Color print runs are more expensive than black and white. Pamphlets, banners, posters, keepsakes, magazines and book markers may be purchased along with the books. Books published for the English-speaking market may be created in foreign countries. The competition among writers seeking human and machine readership is huge, in large part because there is no barrier to entry. Writers often become the only purchasers of their own books.

To stand out from the crowd, writers must create a brand identity for their books through careful promotion. It is possible to rise above the competition in a business with no barrier to entry. It requires using the same tactics with which other successful businesses succeed. Writers will spend more time and money on marketing than on writing books. The life of a writer will be dedicated to book promotion. It can take a lot of time and money to promote a book. Writers must put equity into buying or learning online technology. Technology that writers should apply to the marketing, sale and promotion of books includes a working knowledge of HTML and Wordpress, the most widely used, free and open-source Content Management System for website and blog development. Without HTML, there would be no online presence for books or writers. Everything online is written in this markup language.

There is no barrier to entry nor ticket to success for those who publish a book, unless one considers the huge obstacle presented by the extreme competition in the industry. New writers may find it difficult to compete with established writers for an audience. Writers must connect, communicate, build communities and create commerce on their own. Banks will not take chances on loan paybacks from a writer's pending work. There is too much risk involved in this highly speculative and highly competitive business. The failure rate in book publishing vastly succeeds the success rate. Neither publishers nor readers are likely to take a chance on new writers. Writers live and work in clouded isolation. Few new writers are invited to speak to important groups, engage at public book signings or participate in major publishing events, such as book fairs.

Few books are written for a known and established market. Most books are written on whim and fancy. Therefore, any loans likely will have to be secured by retirement funds or other real or tangible assets of known value. Few readers risk limited assets to donate or invest in one of millions of books. There is so much choice that few readers opt to make a buying decision. The paralysis and decision fatigue too much choice prevents the development of an emotional attachment to unknown writers. Writers may believe there is value to their work. They often have faith when others have none. If the book is not successful, the writer will be scrambling to replace the losses and repay the loans from other sources of income. The writer also may be begging for forgiveness, while trying to fix the financial mess created by a failure to expect competition. Writing is a highly speculative pursuit. Those writers, who remain convinced that to publish a book is sure to be met with success, must learn the awful truths by themselves. The unhappiness that comes with being one of too many is not healthy.

Writers are surrounded by people, who help or hurt their careers. Although well-intentioned, family and friends often add to a writer's discouragement. With no barrier to entry, a lot of hopeful writers are drawn into financial and emotional publishing losses. Writers often live in poverty. The stress can take a physical toll. Writing is a highly competitive and speculative business. Writers generally live among people who measure success by steady, present income. Writers work hard to publish a book, then receive variable or no payment. Although writing presents no barrier to entry, there are pressures to quit. Writing is alienating for emotional reasons. It is discouraging when original creative toil is received by the public as another load of junk. The frustrations and hopelessness of perceived failure send many writers into isolation.

Reunions and holidays may be difficult for writers, who are expected to strengthen the family name and reputation. Writers may not have the means of other family members. A writer's income arrives all at once, or not at all. Writers are often chided by family and friends about the ongoing anonymity and range-bound results of their promotional efforts. The misery of this reality is jolting. There may be a thin line between vision and delusion. While writers to devote time to their work or to salvaging their work with promotion, they are inaccessible to those sharing their space. Since most writers work at home, this often creates a hostile family environment. However, to quit under pressure means losing all of the effort made to write, publish market or promote that book. Writing about the book may perpetuate the nightmare of seemingly unfair and disproportionate stress. Nobody wants to read or hear constant advertisements.

Writers may wear out friendships on social media and in the real world. A singular focus on books and the craft of writing often meets with public and private rebuke. Few people stick with writers until success arrives, if it arrives at all. Writers become muted and subdued with the overdose of bad feedback. Writers struggle with the feeling they are not as good as they envisioned. Friends and family members have their own agendas and concerns. They often drift from a writer's seemingly eternal efforts, which show no results. Writers need a support group. It would be nice if colleagues formed a cohesive group, but writers should expect competition rather than collaboration. Worse, new writers may find themselves in battles with colleagues over perceived trademark and copyright infringements, misappropriation of trade secrets and other acts of business interference at book signings, conferences or shows.

Many public and private places refuse to admit new writers for book readings or related presentations. The first places to close the floodgates to hopeful writers may be the local public library and the private and public school systems. This may be particularly true for writers located in large cities, where there is an overload of new talent pining for discovery. The local news media may pull in the welcome mat. These closed door policies may be presented as security measures or scheduling limitations. There is no obligation to support new writers. That writers are often rebellious in nature may further limit the avenues to public and private access. These are not true barriers to entry, because celebrity authors often are paid to appear in these places. These are additional signs that writing is an overly crowded pursuit.

It is up to each writer to decide where to place individual marketing and promotional emphasis. Plans may change every few months. As writers make new affiliations, content and discoveries, plans should change to reflect each new direction. Although there is no barrier to entry, ongoing tinkering is required of writers. Unflagging persistence with an approach that is not working may become the writer's downfall. Intrigue must be created. Ideas must be molded until they agree with the writer's nature and are compelling to others. The essence of creative effort must be tempered by an awareness of changing trends in the world. This is particularly true with virtual connections. Competition and caution prevail on social media. To hold their positions, the continuing use of new technologies and the creation of ongoing content may be required.

Without a constantly updated website and/or blog, readers have difficulty finding published books. Because there is no barrier to entry to publish a book, the tremendous amount of competition in the publishing business is difficult to overcome. It is virtually impossible to succeed without applying strong tech skills or paying great costs to acquire them. Search engine rankings are in large part based upon dynamic changes to Web content. Search engines can read and analyze text content with greater speed and efficiency than human readers. People and search engines stop visiting websites that have no useful updates to the contents. It is discouraging to publish a book that nobody can find. The anonymity and innumerability of the Web are both attractive and distractive. Writers must create an online presence to build a business.

Writers: Expect Competition.

  • publish a book V. R. Duin says:

    Since more people can publish a book than ever before, serious writers must use technology to spread awareness about their craft across all available media.

  • Expect Competition V. R. Duin says:

    Writers must expect competition throughout the world and rise to the challenge of publishing in the twenty-first century by using technology for book promotion.

    • no barrier to entryV. R. Duin says:

      There is no barrier to entry into the writers' market, but it creates work that is not cost-effective to pay others to do for the management, assessment, testing, validation and design to develop the future state of the necessary tech platform for book promotion.