As Book Industry's Annual BookExpo America Convention Opens in D.C. This Week, Americans Are Saying: 'We Want to Be Authors Too!'

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New survey by book industry expert Arielle Ford finds 68% of Americans saying their life deserves its own book -- while 47% say they’ve got enough to fill TWO books! Successes of Dan Brown, David Balducci, Lauren Weisberger and Jessica Cutler provide proof that book industry ‘outsiders’ can succeed.

Spurred on by the riotous success of book industry “outsiders” like Dan Brown, Jessica Cutler, Lauren Weisberger and David Balducci, more and more Americans are beginning to say, “Hey, maybe I can write a book too.”

According to a new survey by Arielle Ford, founder of book advisory site and the marketing force behind mind-body healer Deepak Chopra and the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, 44% of Americans have at least considered writing a book, and 34% of Americans are actually likely to sit down and write one -- even if they have to wait until retirement to do it.

But not everyone expects to make big bucks from it -- only 19% of Americans actually think that writing a book is a good way to get rich.

The random telephone survey of 1,109 Americans was taken May 5 to May 8 with the assistance of Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J., and has a margin of error of 3%.

“Dan Brown’s first three books went nowhere -- and then came ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ which has made book publishing history,” says Ford. “And best-selling novelist David Baldacci did not sell a single manuscript for 15 years. For years, the trial lawyer rushed downstairs to his home office at 10 p.m. each night to write for four hours. For years, he wrote in obscurity with no feedback except rejection slips.”

Other outsiders who have persevered their way to success include Lauren Weisberger, whose book “The Devil Wears Prada” has been turned into a Meryl Streep movie that opens this weekend, and former Senatorial intern Jessica Cutler, whose risqué book “The Washingtonienne” has been optioned for an HBO series by Sarah Jessica Parker and her Pretty Matches production company.

“You can make great money as an author,” says Ford. “It is a combination of perseverence, hard work -- and, of course, luck!" And she knows of what she speaks: Not only has Ford written four top-selling self-help books herself -- her “Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul” made a number of best-sellers lists -- but her sister Debbie has had a New York Times best-seller as well.

"And we're working on getting my brother his own best-seller too," jokes Ford about her family's amazing book-selling success. (Her brother Mike Ford is a Texas-based trial consultant -- and that's the field that gave "Dr. Phil" McGraw his big start.)

What do America’s would-be authors want to write about? Ford’s new survey gives us a few clues.

According to the survey, 23% of Americans say they have some hot sex tips they’d like to tell the country about in a book. “They must be taking a tip from the huge success of Jessica Cutler’s ‘Washingtonienne,’” says Ford.

And 40% of Americans say they’ve got some great recipes to share. “And that’s not a bad path either -- just look at Rachel Ray.”

According to the survey, 42% of Americans would write a work of fiction, such as a mystery or romance, while 32% would write a self-help book and 49% would write a work of non-fiction, like a cookbook or textbook. Almost two-thirds (59%) say they would probably write a book about an incident in their own lives. “Everyone has a story to tell,” says Ford.

But another book industry study released simultaneously by R.R. Bowker casts some clouds on America’s bright book writing future. For the first time since 1999, the number of new books is actually going down, according to Bowker.

According to the Bowker study on May 8, the number of new books and new editions of old works published last year dropped to 172,000, about 18,000 less than in 2004. Bowker is projecting declines in history, biography, children’s books, technology and even religion, supposedly one of the industry’s fastest growing categories.

“I don’t believe all their predictions, but the market for books has certainly become an incredibly competitive one, and doubly so for new authors without a built-in platform or audience for their product,” says Ford. “For years, the strategy was to put out everything you could, like throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something would stick. But not any more.”

What that means for would-be authors is they need to plan the book they want to write in the same way they would plan a new business. Ford’s website,, gives free tips on key facts potential authors should know – and even a video message from Ford herself.

And writing a book may have other great fringe benefits as well, says Ford: 42% of Americans say that writing a book would boost their self-esteem. “And 65% of Americans say they admire authors," says Ford. "In today’s crazy world, a little admiration and respect can go a long way.”

Overall, according to new figures just released May 18 by the Book Industry Study Group, American publishers generated net revenues of $34.6 billion in 2005, up 5.9 percent over the previous year, according to the report. The industry sold about 3.1 billion books in 2005, up 3.8 percent over 2004.

The strongest growth niches were juvenile books, which sold $3.34 billion in 2005, up 9.6 percent from a year earlier, and religious books, which sold $2.29 billion, up 8.1 percent from 2004.


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