I’ve been in this business now, what? Two and a half years? Sounds about right. And that’s about how long it’s taken me to fully accept that this is my career. This is what I do. I’m a writer. An author, specifically. It took a long time for me to start admitting that in public. Not because I think it’s an embarrassing profession (obviously it’s AWESOME) but rather because it is so uber-awesome I thought people would think I was full of shit if I claimed to be a part of this super fantabulous world of writers. (Yeah, I know, for a writer I’m throwing around some pretty fictional words…I can do that. I’m a fiction writer. Get it? Fiction? Writer? You got it…)
Anyway, over two years of earning a paycheck for my little scribbling hobby and I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that it’s a job. And, now when people ask what I do, I actually tell them. I don’t shrug and mumble something. I don’t look down at my feet and whisper it. I look them straight in the eye and say, “I’m a writer.” Cool. It is. Even cooler is when people introduce me to others as ‘their author friend’. Yup, that’s me.
The point of my little brag-fest is that with this new title apparently comes some responsibility. More and more frequently I hear from people, “I want to write a book.” or “I’ve always thought about being a writer.” To which I say – “Fuck yeah! Let’s do it!” Because, after all, I think being a writer is awesomesauce and I want everyone to have slice of awesomeness.
Thing is though, a lot of people…or writers…apparently expect to hit publish and then sell a hundred thousand books. In part because there are people at fancy entrepreneur conventions who will tell you it’s just that easy and others on Facebook spamming you with write a book in twenty-four hours workshops who will lead you to believe it’s true. It’s not.
Now, this next bit doesn’t necessarily apply to those hopefuls approaching me at random, in fact, there are many already up to their necks in the author community, I would love to say the next several sentences to.
**Fair warning, before you continue…things I say from this point on may be offensive. There most definitely will be (more) swearing and..if you are no fan of brutal ‘punch you in the face and spit on your neck’ honesty, you will be no fan of mine and I urge you to click on the little red X in the top right corner of your screen.**
The first book I ever published didn’t sell shit. Okay, it sold a few copies. But it wasn’t anything to write home about. Then I published my first novel. I sold some. More than before. Probably all to people I knew. By some fucking miracle, sales continued. I published my second and third and fourth novel. That first year, I had consistent deposits into my bank account every month. My best month in sales I made over 500 dollars. That was fucking awesome. Still not enough to live on, but hey, I got PAID to write.
Then came year number two. Sales remained consistent and overall, I doubled my income that year. Not too shabby. I also published four more books that year.
Now, I’m in my third year. I made some changes. I took on a pen name I felt would be easier to brand, a choice I feel very good about. I gave up on marketing more or less…and I’m experiencing more success than I ever have. I’ve also published another three books, with a fourth one releasing by the end of this month.
Seeing a pattern here? I write. Consistently. I don’t churn out a new book every month, but I continue to produce novels at a steady rate. It’s working…because I’m working.
Nothing drives me crazier than seeing other Indie Authors bitch and moan about the injustices of this business. How Amazon’s need for exclusivity is screwing us. How books being pirated is hurting our sales. How returns are basically stealing money right out of our pockets.
You know what I really hear when you say that? You’re not making any money and you’re looking for reasons outside of yourself as to why that might be. Sure, look long and hard and you will find plenty of things to point your finger at. None of them are the reason though.
I have no problem with being enrolled in Select. Amazon pays me a lot of money. More than any of the other retailers have. Will I always be in Select? Probably not. But while I was starting out and building a base of readers, Amazon was better to me than anybody else. I have no beef with Amazon. Are they perfect? Fuck no. Do they do some shady things sometimes…certainly seems that way. Would I advise any up and coming author to list their books in Select anyway? Yup. Sure would.
Pirating sites suck ass. More or less. Initially I jumped on the bandwagon of hunting my books down on them and sending out nasty emails to get them to take them off of their sites again. I never followed up. Why? Because at this point, I’m just happy that people want to read my books! If they like them and tell others, maybe I’ll get some sales out of that. Half glass full and all that. Does it still suck? Fuck yeah. But the people downloading my books for free on some shifty site probably wouldn’t buy them anyway. So, I gained another reader illegally…I’m not judging. But, hey…if you liked it, think you could post a review on one of the legit sites? That would be awesome, thanks!
Then there’s the motherfucking return policy. Yeah. Those are my feelings on it, too. Have I signed a goddamn petition over it? Nope. Why, you ask? Because I don’t really give a shit. If people want to be assholes and return a book after they’ve read it just so they can legally go steal another one that’s their prerogative. I don’t have to like it. But there are plenty of things people do I don’t like that I do nothing about. Free will and acceptance…I’m working on accepting the one and practicing the other.
You want to make a living as a writer, you can’t write one fucking book and then spend the next two years tweeting about it and spamming every Facebook group known to man. You also can’t stop at three…or four and then take a break to cry about a lack of sales…especially not when you price those fuckers at over four bucks a pop!
And when you write fifteen books and still can’t generate sales, chances are you’re making some fundamental mistakes such as shit covers, shit editing and/or shit pricing. Or maybe you just won’t give fucking Select a try because you don’t want them to give away your books in their lending library even if it means you go from making no dollars to making a hundred. And you won’t do it just because you think you should make a certain percentage per sale that you won’t get that way. It’s fucking stupid, is what that is. Or pride? Is it pride? Well, pride is fucking stupid, too. At least if it’s getting in the way of you getting what you want. Or maybe it’s fucking entitlement. That shit’s even worse. Don’t even get me started…
I’ve heard it all fifty-thousand times before. I poured my blood, sweat and tears into this book. My time and hard work are worth more than 99 cents! What-the-fuck-ever. That’s some great logic you’re working with there, bud. Let’s see. Price my book insanely high because I’m worth it and sell maybe two copies every six months…or lower the price to a point where people feel comfortable investing in me, a nobody in the world of books and authors, make more sales which will result in making more money and probably lead to selling more copies of my other books in the process and making EVEN MORE money overall. No…no, I think I’ll stick with the first one. I’ve got my pride and all that entitlement to keep me warm at night, who needs to pay the power bill?
So, from here on out, if you approach me with an interest in writing and selling books, this is my advice to you ~
You want to be a writer? Fucking write.
Don’t spend your time doing frivolous shit and then claim you just can’t get in the mood. Let me tell you something, writer’s block is a motherfucking myth. Doesn’t exist. Total bullshit. No such thing. URBAN FUCKING LEGEND created by writers who knew there were others out there who would buy the hype and therefor cut down on the competition.
Don’t think you can write consistently? You can…if you write consistently. Nobody says you have to churn out five-thousand words a night. You don’t even have to come up with five-hundred. You can write five and they can be the dumbest fucking words you ever wrote. Doesn’t matter. Write them anyway. Then do it again the next day, and the day after that until what you’re writing isn’t total shit and it amounts to more than one sentence. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Period.
Don’t think you have time to write? You do! Get less attached to sleep and more familiar with coffee. There’s a reason all writers drink it. It’s what keeps us all functioning.
Now, for those of you who stuck with me up until this point and are fuming, well, I don’t know what to tell you. The truth hurts sometimes…and maybe after you take a few deep breaths and realize that my post was actually not a personal attack on you, just maybe you’ll be able to see that I made some pretty valid (and I daresay – helpful) points here.
I’m not into bashing people’s dreams. And if that’s what you took away from what I said…well, you’re still doing that thing where you’re pointing your finger in all the wrong directions. Try standing in front of a mirror next time you do that shit. All I’m saying is, following your dreams, whatever they may be, is going to take some work. Some serious effort. Practice. Failure. Multiple mistakes. Compromising. Eating some hefty portions of humble pie. Puking them back up again. Then going back for seconds. More practice. More effort. More failure. And then, maybe….SUCCESS.
So, you still want to be a writer? Then, fuck yeah – let’s do it!! Because being a writer is awesomesauce and everyone should have a slice of AWESOMENESS!!