In Malaysia, where reading is not a big priority with the general hooked-on-Astro population, first print runs usually vary from 2,000 to 5,000 books. In Australia, a nation that’s so proud of its writers, initial print runs are at a meagre 10,000, and usually only 5,000 for literary fiction.
Last weekend I read an article by Rosemary Sorensen. She says this:
“… when even the best known [Australian] writers . . . are much less well known than your average sitcom actor, anyone who wants to write their way to fame is naive . . . If its not the fame that draws them, are they driven by a love of literature?”
Internationally, there are two tiers of published writers. The top tier writers are able to live off their royalties and write full time. The remaining authors have to carry on with their day jobs. I don’t know the percentages off-hand but I’d guess that only 10% of writers fall into the top tier.
In Malaysia, unfortunately, there is only one tier for fiction writers. Not one of us (even with a dozen books published) can live off our royalties. So why do we write?
Because, even though we may not be fully conscious of it, the act of writing allows us to create and to accomplish. It’s that simple. And how lucky we writers really are. No other equipment is needed other than pen and paper and a bit of space and time to ourselves.
Of course, to be published is the ultimate goal. To live off our published books is the ultimate dream.
So why do you write?