There's a lot of books published a year. Like a lot. In 2016 Amazon Createspace published over half-a-million unique books (not counting the various copies of said books sold). Total different self-published books overall? Over 800,000. And with funding for libraries on the decline, bookstores disappearing, and a measly 15% or so of the total population picking up a book and reading it throughout the year, you'd think the economics of supply and demand would have kicked in. On wait, they have. The few people that still do read are buying less books and reading for less time in the day. Avid readers now only read for an average of fifteen minutes a day. And although audiobooks have picked up in popularity, going from 11% of readership population to 18%, stealing many physical book readers away, the facts are obvious: we are slowly turning into a society that no longer reads. Perhaps its because many people are used to quick, vibrant, on-the-spot entertainment, free and easy to access (usually through our phones or other media devices). Perhaps too many people are getting caught up in the modern day and fighting financial burdens to have time to read. If you are one of the few who still actively and voraciously read, you are part of a community which might be shrinking by the day. So as an author, those facts might be daunting, especially when one's work can be drowned within a sea of other books in a matter of milliseconds.
I myself have no idea of the scope in which my books will reach. Yes, they've been bought in many countries, in many states, and by many people of varying class and race. But there are plenty of times where I get no sales. 0. Nada. It's the name of the game. The nature of the beast. So you either put your shoes back on and walk out of the office or you keep grinding away.
But why? If you don't reach success, why bother? Because I measure my success based on the personal satisfaction I get from finishing a quality book and putting it out there. Now yes, I market like crazy, have a mailing list, have an online presence, communicate with my fans, and attend writing events, which all help make me as an individual more marketable, but in the end, I have no frikin clue if I'll be financially successful, or sell even one copy, ten, or a hundred. I do it, cause I want to. Cause if I don't, I'm failing my dreams and ambitions. Money can be earned in a variety of ways, but satisfaction from doing something that you love, man, that's limited.
So if you're an author, a musician, a baker, or whatever else have you, separate worldly success from the personal satisfaction. If money and fame follow, sweet. If not, well at least you got a kick out of it.
Now I work for a college. I've seen people come and go for years, entering the system with bright eyes and high expectation and leave with a degree that may or may not get them anywhere. I've seen many give up before they get a degree (most do for various reasons) and many finish with a look of death in their eyes, as if they've been to the front lines of some terrible war. And I can understand it: from hyper-political teachers who care to only preach their political views (carefully inlaid into their modules and courses), to a low return on monetary investment after years of work and years of debt. But here's the main problem: the value of the degree is depreciating. Like a government printing too much money, more and more people are able to access colleges, universities, and online institutions. From student loans, grants, funds, savings, and entrance programs targeted to specific demographics, overall it is far easier to be accepted into a college. Mostly, because the higher their student numbers, the more grant money they get for their programs from sponsors, government entities, and partners. More students=more money=better reported numbers at the end of the academic year. Better bragging rights. Etc. Even prestigious universities such as Yale and Harvard have lowered their bars for entrance exams (although they would never tell you such a thing). Here's the thing, how often do you see commercials for colleges and online schools? A new one pops up almost weekly, it seems like now. The more the competition, the lower the standards get.
But it depends on what degree you get! ...Kind of...to an extent. Yeah, underwater basket-weaving and women studies with a focus on genealogy won't really get you a job anywhere, but what about engineering? Or doctors? Well discounting the insane amount of student debt, loans, and saved money you'll spend for your 4-12 years of strenuously difficult courses, you must take into account that you and everyone else is going for those degrees. People have gotten smarter. They know what degrees work and which ones don't. And although the statistics say that demand for such jobs are growing in the city you live in, the growth of the amount of people obtaining the same degree is rising at a faster rate.
Here's some stats:
Between 2000 and 2017, educational attainment rates among 25-to-29-year-olds increased at each attainment level. During this time, the percentage who had received at least a high school diploma or its equivalent increased from 88 to 92 percent, the percentage with an associate's or higher degree increased from 38 to 46 percent, the percentage with a bachelor's or higher degree increased from 29 to 36 percent and the percentage with a master's or higher degree increased from 5-to-9 percent.
Now, you could be saying Raf, those numbers do show growth, but it's not really that much... Yeah, but 2.2 MILLION people went to college in 2016. In 2018 for Fall Semester? 19.9 MILLION. Do you see the growth yet??? That's 804.54% growth in two years.
Raf, but jobs are growing all over America...Yeah, 201,000 new jobs were added to the labor market in August of 2018. And yet our workforce decreased from 62.9 Million to 62.7 in the same month (it did the same from August of 2017 to Aug of 2018). Hmm, slow decrease, perhaps even stagnancy, but why not growth? There's more jobs available. Here's the analogy: you had one really yummy cookie. There were four people who wanted it. One got it, the other three complained. The government and economy-savvy companies came in and took the cookie and broke it up into 4 parts. They work, they taste good, but they're now smaller. This is basic economics 101. When there is a higher demand, you have more control over the price of the wanted item. In this case, loads of people want a great job? Well it's easier to break the job up and pay everyone a lot less money. What, you want to be jobless or make minimal wage? But that's not fair! That job paid big bucks five years ago...Yep, it did. But now that company has a bunch of suckers working part time (cause part-timers don't get the good benefits which cost the company a bunch of money) and has them working for crumbs. That company is making a lot more money off of having a bunch of smaller, lower paying jobs instead of a few high paying full-time jobs. Yay 201,000 new jobs added! Yaaaaaaaay (that's sarcasm).
What's sad is that because everywhere we look we see super low-paying jobs or only the exact opposite-super high-paying jobs with qualification requirements out-of-this-world-we tend to think we need a college education, a degree, to put ourselves in a position for success. Thus, the insane growth we see of people going to college. And with colleges sprouting everywhere like weeds, each accepting us in with open arms, we flood the world with hundreds-of-thousands of certifications and diplomas. Now this is nowhere how it was like when we had a surge of number back in 2009 when the economy went down the crap-chute, where colleges everywhere were turning people down. But now colleges have become like McDonald's. And colleges want you to graduate, despite what you may think of them desiring to suck all your money out of your account. High graduation rates makes a college look good, and the amount of funding and support they can get when they show off good numbers, benefits them more than Dick and Jane's debt growing like a tumor on the back of their wallets.
So if a bunch of people have degrees and the job market is growing, why do most people still make such little money and never go into the career field they got their diploma for? Companies have seen the trend. You may have a degree, but so do thirty others who came and applied the same day. Whoever accepts the lowest wage while having the highest talent and ethical views aligning with the company, well they get the job.
In May, the U.S. quit rate, or the proportion of workers quitting their jobs, reached the highest level since 2001. A high quit rate is a sign of optimism, with workers feeling confident they can find a better job (or at least another one).
To that point, the BLS report includes another interesting statistic: Thanks to many Americans’ confidence in the job market, most people quitting their jobs are doing so in order to take more lucrative gigs.
The report also shows that May marked the second time in two decades there were more jobs available than people unemployed. Employers advertised 6.84 million available jobs in April. In May, there were 6.64 million jobs advertised—when there were only 6.1 million unemployed people.
So why is everyone quitting? Cause they can get degrees and find something better (they think)! Because their job has been cut apart to make more jobs and their wage is a lot smaller because their company doesn't care if they leave or stay (there's already more suckers lining up for an interview before you've even packed up your desk belongings). And if no Americans take the job, there's a million Indians, Russians, and Latinos who are willing to do the job. Don't get me wrong, these guys are hard-working, determined, and have insane work ethic, and they'll do the same thing as you for a lot less: especially if the company pays for their living if they're on Visa. Many companies import from other countries.
More people have jobs = The value of the degree is decreasing. There are far more jobs = The value of the job working for the big man is decreasing
And so, why not become an entrepreneur? A writer like you, Raf? If that's your dream, go for it, but guess what? The government caught on to that long ago. Big companies as well. Too many people becoming independent, no longer relying on them? Oh no way! They can't have that! The loopholes and massive taxes you have to pay, the steep level of competition that you have to climb over, makes entrepreneurship extremely difficult-but not impossible.
Overall, what I'm trying to say is that we have a lot of people willingly becoming sheep because its the easy route. (At least they think-if you believe in the stagnant decaying state of life most have now conformed to). And it's harder and harder to become a wolf. (Thus so many people leaving to become homesteaders-which the government is also trying to make it harder to do, but that's a blog for another day).
Maybe people will catch on and stop going for degrees. Maybe loads of colleges will shut down and the value of the degree will increase onse more. Maybe because so many jobs are becoming available and so many people are quitting because they're tired of being underpaid for their work will cause wages to go up once more and qualifications to slacken. But maybe that's a pipe-dream and were soon going to see a large economic collapse. For now, I'll continue working toward my Bachelor's in Business Management. What? If you can't beat them, join them...right?
If you disagree, well cool. Just tell me your point of view without being a jerk about it. I'm tired of arguing with people over the internet. Hmm, maybe that'll be my next blog post.
Couldn't think of an original blog post, so decided to share an awkward moment I've had in my life for you to relate or make fun of! See, even authors (especially authors) have cringe-worthy points in their life.
>So when I was in high school I developed a crush on a gymnast girl that went to my same school. We rode the same bus together in the mornings and had one or two classes together (can't remember, high school seemed like a life-time ago). Anyways, prom was coming around and everyone went into this frenzy of trying to figure out who to ask and how to do so in either the most creative, cute, romantic, or funny way. Because I was an idiot (oh yeah, still am) and neither allowed myself to be associated with the words "romantic" or especially "cute" I decided funny would be my only hope of getting that mythical "yes". You ever seen an ant-hill kicked over by an unruly kid? Well that was what my school looked like in those final few weeks before prom. While the girls shrieked and giggled like flocks of deranged birds, making themselves as elusive and hard-to-get as possible, it was the boys that suffered the worse change. Something about the age, the floods of testosterone running through our systems, and our naive sense of what's cool-all of that, combined together: well, it was a mess. It was like every male in the school dropped 85 I.Q. points, which is really bad as I believe that more than half the guys didn't have 85 I.Q. points to spare.
"Hey man, I'm gonna stand on this lunch table and tap-dance while screaming out swearwords in Spanish. That'll make the girls laugh."
"Dude, check it out-I just drank a gallon-and-a-half of warm chocolate milk. I'm gonna go run outside on the track for an hour. That'll impress the girls."
"Hey, Cindy's looking fine today. I think I'll go slap her butt."
Yeah... sophistication was not the forte amongst the guys in my school. Being a tier above that level of stupidity, I decided that to impress the gymnast, I should do something creative, funny, yet not so painful that it would ruin any chance of me ever having a member of the opposite gender even look at me. So I created a brilliant idea. I would dress up in the school mascot outfit, a fat, jolly, swashbuckling pirate, roam the school looking for her during my lunch-break and give her a paper with the question asking her to prom. My plan continued to develop and I realized that instead of handing her any old note, I could give her a treasure map with clues, leading her to the question. So home I went, taking an old piece of paper, staining it yellow, drawing elaborate monsters and treasures on it and creating a riddle which when solved asked the question "will you go to prom with me?" I burned the edges of the paper to make it look old and found an old bottle to put it in.
The next day, I asked a few of the school cheerleaders (who thankfully were kind enough to help) to let me into their practice room where the suit was stored. With the help of a couple of my buddies, I stuffed myself into the suit (which had the strange smell of potato-salad sandwiches lingering inside it). I then roamed the school halls during lunch, and since I was hidden away in the suit and no one knew who I was, all the cool kids and popular jocks high-fived me, pretty girls took pictures with me, and I silently danced with a large Polynesian guy who I had never seen before in my life (I think he was in his mid-thirties, so I have no idea why he was in our school or how he danced so well). I felt good, but also as if I was on an acid-trip, faces blurring across my vision and strange lights filtering through the mask into my eyes and brain. It didn't help that the inside of the suit was hot, very hot and the smell of potato-salad sandwiches was growing stronger and stronger, fusing into my clothes and skin.
Eventually I found her, and with a swaggering confidence only brought on by the fact that no one knew who I was under the suit, I walked up to her with my treasure-map bottle in hand. She was sitting in the hall, back against the wall, laughing and talking to about twenty of her friends. That made my steps slow a little, but no big deal, I was still under my suit.
When she saw me approach, her face froze, and soon all her friends were staring at me as well, the conversations they had been having now frozen on their lips. I crouched down in front of her and handed her the bottle, still not having said a single word since putting on the suit (a mascot never talks, and I was taking my role seriously). She cautiously took the bottle and with hesitation, pulled out the map and read over it. All was quiet and I remember I had a goofy smile on my face. It was sucha ridiculous, stupid situation-and oh gosh, was that potato-salad sandwich smell leaking out of the suit? Ugh, it was intermixing with the B.O. I'd accrued in the stifling heat of my entrapment. Combined, I was starting to smell like an onion field overtaken by the backed-up sewage of a nearby canal. Yeah, not pleasant. After a few seconds, she looked up with a stone-faced look I'll never forget. Without blinking and with all her friends waiting with bated breath, she said, "No Raf, no I won't go with you." That's it, no "sorry, I have someone else", or "that's an incredible effort you put for me, but I'm not interested. Thanks Raf". I remember all of her friends started to snicker under their breaths, but everything else was a blur and I stood up as fast as lighting, turned, and wobbled back the way I came.
I put the suit back in the cheerleader's closet, receiving disgusted looks by them as the ripened smells within permeated their practice room. I didn't know who was the actual mascot, but unfortunately I'm sure the smell was blamed on me instead of whoever had eaten their lunch inside the pirate outfit.
My friends teased me for the rest of the school year over what had happened and I never stared that girl in the eyes again.
So that's an awkward moment I can think of. If you'd like to contribute, please comment an awkward story below!
The Evil Negative Review that Almost Made me Eat an Entire Bucket of Ice-Cream Until I Realized I wanted to Eat the Entire Bucket of Ice-Cream Anyways. Also This Title is Really Long.
Boys and girls, I finally got my first painful negative review. *slow clap* It's honestly a little exciting as it no longer looks like I'm just a baby author with no feedback. Although it feels like I just got stabbed in the head by a gang of internet trolls, I chalk it up as an achievement badge. Yet in the first 10 minutes of reading the review I was practically hacking the FBI headquaters to try and figure out who was the person who would dare hurt my precious fragile feelings. How dare they have an opinion against my perfect God-Given creation? Sigh... honestly, anonymous Amazon User, I thank you. I thank you for two reasons actually. I'm glad that you spoke truthfully and honestly. Your opinion does matter and it's just as valid as everyone else. Its real, it has grit to it, and yes, it does sting. But that sting gives me the second reason I'm thanking you. You motivate me. You make me want to do better, to write stronger plots. More powerful characters, to become a better me. And in the end, your review will have been the most cherished review I could have received in these early days of self-publishing because your review is what will dive me to push for success. So all of us self-published and traditionally published authors, lets raise out glasses and wipe our tear-stained faces as we acknowledge those hard-to-swallow reviews.
So taking a break from my writing for one day, I was invited to attend a work party. Being a good little employee and genuinely enjoying the people I work with, I decided to go.
I was dismayed though, when to my horror I heard we were to go golfing. (I'm about as skilled at golfing as a blind man is at navigating through the Amazon).
Well, we get there and at first I assumed we were going to be in a large green field, all wearing little hats that looked like deflated bread loaves and doing tiny golf claps while a British man provided enlightening commentary, instead we came to a building both tall and skinny with multiple levels. (For those of you who know, the place was Top Golf). People would go right up to the edge of the building (depending on what story you were on) and putt off the side, watching as their balls launched out across an enclosed grass field where large netted holes in the ground were made targets. Each ball was retrofitted with a GPS signal to tell you exactly where your ball landed. I admit, I was very impressed with the tech, but still shaking my head, knowing the ungodly disaster to come when I finally was to pick up a club.
So we get up on the third floor and reach the balcony overlook where we can hit off from. The view is spectacular and exciting and I watch others (even old women and younger teens) hit incredible shots out toward those large distant holes.
My turn comes and I pick a club. I have no idea what the numbers on the club mean or how to even hold one properly. So I attempt to mimic what other people are doing. I feel confident that I've duplicated the technique correctly- put ball on little tee thing, check for wind by licking finger and sticking it up, angle legs and spread them out slightly, and take a few practice swings. (Later on I was told I looked like a man with elbows permanently fused in one position, chicken-walking to the edge of the balcony, Apparently the way I adjusted my body for the swing looked like an epileptic man with a horribly malformed spine trying to twerk-which is all made worse as my boss' boss was standing directly behind me. I guess I'll never see a promotion.
Knowing I was holding everyone up, I take a deep breath, steady myself, and swish! Whack! I smack the club into the ground, two feet short of where the ball is. I'm a lumberjack trying to crush a bug, a rock-and-roll star tripping over himself as he's slamming his guitar on the stage after a concert. "That was a practice swing." I yell over my shoulder with a fake swaggering confidence. The only reply I get is my boss laughing.
Alright, no big deal. I'm a beginner. Steady, jiggle my butt like I saw the old lady do in the booth next to me (holy crap, she just hit the ball 240 yards! The twerk-technique must work!) Okay, this one is going to go far. I'm a big guy, I got some muscle on me. I've played sports all my life. I've been in a college volleyball team, I understand pressure. This is nothing. Swing! Where's the ball? I look up, holding my hand over my eyes to cover the sun. I gaze across the field. Could I have knocked it over the netted walls? But the walls are 300 meters tall... Did i swing so hard I evaporated the ball? I feel a gentle bounce off my toe. I look down and staring back up at me is my elusive enemy, the immortal god who cannot be stopped by my pathetic attempts at hitting it, the stupid golf ball. I'd swung too high and the wind from the club brushed the ball off the tee.
Now I've got women from the company giggling and nudging each other, pointing to me. Some are more than twice my age and two feet shorter than me. They've knocked their balls out into the grass, some even into holes. I feel a heat come over my face and I squint down at the ball with such fury, Satan himself quaked in Hell, hiding under his bed. I put the ball back on the tee, half pleading with it, half swearing at it. K, here we go. Let's do this!
I'm familiar with the process now: swing butt and point it at my boss' boss, arch my back so far my chest sticks out like the bow of a ship, bend knees and point them in every direction but straight, swing!
Gravity gets confused. Physics break. Ten-thousand light-years away, a supernova farts. I'm aiming out toward the grass, yet as I strike the ball (Finally! Praise Tiger Woods and Happy Gilmore!), the ball goes backwards and up, curving in an arch that would make mathematicians purple-faced with excitement to calculate. It strikes the ceiling above my head with a resounding crack so loud that everyone jumps. The ball drops next to my foot, then gently rolls off the side of the balcony. My boss nearly falls off his seat laughing. My coworkers burst out like a chorus of hyenas, the old lady in the other booth chuckles out as she continues to shake her butt (I'm becoming more and more concerned that the twerk technique doesn't work) and I give an exasperated sigh.
Thank goodness I have my writing I can return to. I'm at least decent with that... or perhaps I'm failing miserably. I don't know, I've been shaking my butt desperately the entire time I've been in front of the computer. The technique has to work for something!
I went to a Brandon Sanderson signing! How cool is that? The guy wrote the now-finished Steelheart trilogy, Mistborn series, and The Way of Kings! I felt bad for him as he read an excerpt from his book—the guy was somewhat sick.—but he still did an incredible job. He signed some books for me and talked to me about a future in writing. It's been so cool to meet with so many successful authors and gain inspiration to work harder for my dream.
Yes, that is famous author Kevin J. Anderson! It was such an honor to meet him at the final day of the writing conference in Provo. He gave a really impressive lecture on some foundational rules of writing and even took the time to personally talk to me and snap a picture! I'm planning to see him again next February in the Superstars Event in Colorado. I grew up reading Kevin's books and he was a big inspiration for me to write, so overall the experience was very surreal. Definitely something I'll remember for a long time.
While on my three-day writing conference binge, I met M. Todd Gallowglas, a self-published author and his cover illustrator. The two were a lot of fun and talked to me for quite some time. It's quite nice being able to interact with other authors. Although I plan on publishing through traditional methods (a publishing company) instead of self-publishing, I can definitely still respect all the hard work and dedication it took Mr. Gallowglas to get where he was from scratch. Awesome Guy!
Heard about a three day writing conference held out in Provo called LTUE. I decided to go -try and network a little. Got a chance to meet with Michelle Corsillo (left) from Wordfire Press and Julie Frost (middle), a great author. They gave me a lot of sage advice and even let me practice my elevator pitch on them!
It pumped me up about continuing my networking as much as possible.
There's a first time for everything- that even includes blogging about my progress as an author. I'll put everything here as if it were a journal. From dealing with a tough decision on how to progress next on social media sites to how I felt about a certain rejection letter. Heck, I shouldn't even call this a blog -should call it 'dear diary' instead. Yuck. I've never been good at keeping a diary. But, like I said -there's a first time for everything.
All I hope is that someone, somewhere reads this. If you do- send help. I've been kidnapped by alien/goat hybrids.