I have seen a couple of posts lately about the unnecessary pressure we, as writers, put on ourselves. The pressure to make lists, rankings, sales…things we all want and somehow “need”, but that don’t necessarily make us happy.
Let me preface by saying that I agree with all of this. ALL OF IT.
I want to make a list one day. Or all of them. I have no preference, really.
Every author wants to get a bestseller of some kind next to their name.
It’s true that in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Your readers will love your story no matter what. It doesn’t have to have the word bestseller on it.
I completely agree with the fact that obsessing over sales takes the joy out of writing.
So, yes. I want to make that list. Just like everyone else.
I also don't want to lose sight of who I am as a writer so I can maybe make that list.
Right now, I have different goals.
I want to break even.
I want to break even so I can keep doing this.
See, I belong to another level of Indie Authors. The ones who don’t make lists or rankings. The ones who have a small following – for which I am eternally grateful for – but that as writers haven’t been really able to make a dime, much less break even.
I hope I don’t sound annoying or petulant saying this, because it’s the last thing I want to accomplish with this post.
What I want to do is shed some light on the hundreds, thousands of authors like me who either have been doing this for a while or not very long and keep writing for the sake of writing.
As many of you might now, being a self-published author is no walk in the park.
Besides constantly fighting with yourself and your self-doubt (yes, those writer memes are accurate), there’s a bunch more stuff that we all need to deal with.
I’m not going to keep bothering you with the list of things a self-published author does on its own. The list goes on and on.
This list not only requires time (most authors have a full time job and write and do everything else in their spare time), but also money.
Unless you’re a jack of all trades, you’re going to have to pay someone else to do your cover and formatting. Then you’re going to need editing, proofreading, and you’re going to hire a PR company for some promo. I’m not even going to count all the money to boost posts and random Facebook/takeover giveaways.
Now, mind you, I’ve always been trying to make careful decisions when it came to investing money for a book. I always give myself a budget, because that’s what I can afford.
The problem is, I’ve never been able to make that back in sales.
I’ve never been able to break even.
I can’t really call this a career, because it’s more like a hobby. An expensive one.
Sure, it makes me really happy. Honestly, there is nothing like seeing your name on the cover of the book, getting a box of your own paperbacks, receiving messages from people who enjoyed your story.
You know one thing I really love? Getting my copyright certificate in the mail. Not that it matters, because my books, that sell very few copies on Amazon, are on several pirate sites. They seem to be awfully popular there.
Don’t even get me started on the whole piracy thing. Instead, I want to point out that pirate-sites sounds a lot like parasites, doesn’t it?
Writing makes me happy, in a way I never thought it would. But at what cost?
How long am I going to be able to afford this expensive hobby?
So, for me, this is what takes away the joy of writing.
Never breaking even.
Having that terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that one of these days you’re not going to be able to justify all this.
I LOVE WRITING. But it’s a terrible waste of money.
I mainly wrote this post for myself, so I can get this off my chest once and for all. I am a positive person, but I’m not going to tell you it’s all sunshine and unicorns when it ain’t. I feel I need to be real about this.
I also wrote it for all the authors out there that have a lot of passion and outstanding potential, but that just like me, can’t break even.
Keep writing. Keep listening to the voices in your head. Tell the story that’s in your heart, versus telling one that’s more in line with the trends (don’t even get me started on the word “trends” – it makes my skin crawl).
I do believe in the saying, “Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.
I guess that’s what I will keep doing. At least for as long as I can afford it.