I’m a writer. Always have been. Always will be. I’m also a writer who wants to work on a project that will hopefully attract new readers and get paid. Sometimes that works out. Sometimes that doesn’t.
Like everyone else, I too dream of “making it big.” But what does that mean, anyway? Let’s say the hand of publishing blessed me and I made millions on a book. What then? Would I stop writing?
What happens if I didn’t sell as many copies as I thought I did. Would I stop writing?
If tomorrow, an EMP destroyed the entire internet and all my digital files, would I stop writing?
If some reader publicly came out and said “Gee, I don’t like any of the other books in your series besides the first one, so stop writing.” Would I listen?
Yeah, not a chance.
I write because I love it and I’m trying like hell to make an honest living from my words.
The thing is, the publishing industry has always been in flux. For as long as I can remember, there’s always been some kerfluffle or another. We’re seeing it and hearing more about it now because that’s what the internet does — highlights micro-and-macro trends as they happen. Yes, what’s happening now is a big deal for the industry. Bookstores are going out of business. e-Readers are changing their buying habits. Advances are changing. Prices are all over the map. Self-publishing is less and less of a stigma. But it won’t getting sorted out by the end of this year. Chances are, it will take five, ten or twenty years for the dust to truly settle before there’s any sort of a baseline trend. Even after everything stabilizes, there will always be an anomaly. There will always be change. Adapt or don’t.
So why then, are so many writers freaking out? Well, here’s the thing: we all want a guarantee that we’re going to be successful… Only there is NO guarantee… And that’s where people get a little nutty about this stuff. I often imagine an author sitting at his (or her) keyboard with a calculator figuring out ye olde writing algorithm to scale the proverbial publishing pyramid. Make the rounds at small presses? Check. Sell 20 short stories? Check. Get an agent? Check. Don’t forget to level up! Overnight publishing success? Of course!
But being a successful writer isn’t a zero sum game. You don’t get 1,000 readers who will only read your work and no one else’s. You don’t forgo small presses and self-publishing because they’re so much worse off than the larger houses. You make choices that work for you. Period. If self-publishing works for you? Then do it. If you’re happy going through a small press? Then okay! Trying to get an agent? Go you.
Hopefully, you make informed choices based on what you want to earn, how much time is required, etc. Even then, you have to realize you’re going to screw up. And that’s okay, too! If you’re in it for the long haul, like I am, then persistence is key. Just say it with me: money flows to the writer…
Here’s what I focus on: writing. And then? Selling my work. If that doesn’t pan out? I pitch. You know, for more writing. To sell. That’s it. Maybe go to a con or two. As my readership increases, my tune may change to include more appearances, but right now that’s what I’m focusing on.
Am I worried about what the future will bring? Yeah, but worrying about writing and actually sitting down and writing are two, very different things. I can whine about wanting to be a popular and successful author all I want, but if I have nothing for people to read… Well, I guess I can keep whining. For a different reason. As in: What was I thinking?
Oh, I suppose I should remember to have fun. If I’m not doing that, then why am I writing again?