Everyone Has a Book, but . . .

I love to question generally accepted truisms and it drives my wife crazy. “Why can’t you just accept it or let it go?” She tells me. This trait used to get me into trouble in school too. Just because the teacher presented something as a fact, that didn’t mean it was. Teachers don’t like little snot-nosed kids challenging them. I took more than one trip to the coat closet, I can tell you.

Everyone has a book in them and 80% want to write one.

I am bringing this up for two reasons, the first being the statement that “Everyone has a book in them.” I looked for the source of this quotation and it seems to be either unknown, a cliché, or anonymous. If anyone knows its origins, I would love to hear about it. The second statement treated as fact is that “80% of [people/adults] want to write a book.” How was that research conducted I wonder? Did a student with a clipboard wander up and down the streets stopping pedestrians to ask, “Have you ever thought of writing a book?” No matter how the research was done or even if it was done, it might be true. Ever since I wrote the manifesto for The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors (to read click here) everyone I know is either writing a book, has written a book, or has a close friend or family member working on a book. You might be tempted to ask, “Bill all of those sources you quoted know you, and you’ve written books, shouldn’t the figure be 100%? Okay smarty that would be true if they all pointed to me, but they didn’t, they were talking about themselves or some other person. I have enough sense to exclude myself from this highly questionable research I conducted.

Are 43.56 million books being written right now?

If you use my personal experience as valid research (note: not actually recommended) and take a wild a_ s guess, you would probably be correct in assuming that most would never really attempt it. But just suppose that 20% did give it a go. The adult population of the US according to the last census was 217.8 million. Twenty percent of that figure would mean that there could be 43.56 million books in process right now. Over forty-three million is a mind boggling figure. Even if 1/2% is true that would still come to nearly 11million books. Good grief–no wonder only 4% or less of manuscripts presented to publishers ever make it into print.

Family histories and journals are books too.

Let’s address the maxim that everyone has a book in them. I suspect that is true also. If for no other reason, our life stories will make interesting reading for someone. Especially once, we’ve passed on. After my father retired from his job as a computer systems analyst, he spent time gathering diaries and journals about our immediate ancestors. For me it was a good read. For someone unrelated, not so much. The point being that it is a book. A book printed on a home printer and hand bound with a metal strip you can purchase at any office supply store.

Is the book my father self-published going anywhere other than the bookshelves of his children? Probably not. But, what if one of our descendants became famous or heaven forbid infamous, wouldn’t someone love to have their hands on this information so they can speculate all day long on what made that person tick?

The difference between a book, a good book, and a great book.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

The question isn’t does everyone have a book in them. That answer is yes. The real question is does everyone have a good book in them? This answer is obviously no. The authors that can weave a story in such a way that it becomes a living thing are still far and few between, but as we have already discussed there could easily be a million books in development right now that given a chance could be the next Catcher in the Rye. There are too many manuscripts for traditional publishing and distribution to handle. If you are the next yet unrecognized great author, you may have no choice except to publish your own book, promote your book, and take it like The Little Red Hen to the next level by yourself.

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