HAHAHAHAHA! I amuse myself with stupid things- you know, like the title of this post.
I'm about to get serious though, and my thoughts are super emotional and all over the place so I hope that by the time you get to the end, I'll have made some sort of sense. Bear with me, cause it's a long one. :)
SOMETHING is happening in writer-land. Sales are down. Sales are down A WHOLE F'N LOT. Most of the writer's I know are not immune to what has been happening the past six or so months (longer for some of us, myself included). And while we all sit there struggling to figure out where things went wrong, what exactly happened and most importantly- HOW WE CAN FIX IT- we are silently (or not so silently) freaking out.
Let me back up a little bit, first....
Getting fired from my last job was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I was in a horrible situation but I knew I'd never quit because well, who quits their job without having another one to fall back on? Not me. Even if what happened there on a daily basis was slowly killing me from the inside out- I wasn't going to be the one to give up. I needed a paycheck. And that's truly the bottom line. Because if I didn't need money to survive, I would have left that job a long time before they ever had the chance to make me leave. I. Would. Have. Quit. Happily.
After getting fired, I bought a laptop and started writing In Dreams. I self published it (after months of trying to get an agent and doing all the things I thought I was supposed to do to feel like a "real" writer) and it flopped. To be honest, the writing sucked. I was completely naïve and I jumped into this world with absolutely zero experience in it. All I knew was that I had a story I believed in that I wanted to tell.
And so I did exactly that.
But I didn't tell it well.
And after getting over that fact, I rewrote it a billion (and a half) times to the point where it no longer haunted me at night. (thank you Pam)
Much to my surprise, after finishing In Dreams, I realized that I had another story I wanted to tell. Who knew, right?! I sure as shit didn't. But that's where it all began. I'd opened creative floodgates in my mind that I didn't even know existed! I found something inside of me that called to my soul.... something that felt more right in terms of a "career" than anything ever had before in my life. I KNEW, in the deepest parts of my guts, that THIS was what I wanted to do.
I wanted to be a writer.
I wanted to write books.
FOR A LIVING.
And the fact that my books didn't sell all that well did nothing to stop me. I didn't care. In my mind, I was paying my dues- working hard to build a fan base that would take time and effort. Not to mention the fact that I was trying to grow as a writer. I wanted to be better, write stories that people wanted to read, that they talked about, that they loved. I was fully aware that I was a work in progress, but you see, I was OKAY with that. Because I never expected overnight success. I never really expected anything.
Boy how that's changed.
I released my third book, The Perfect Game in October 2012 and my world completely shifted. The unemployment checks had stopped about six months earlier and I'd lost my house. Writing was absolutely not paying the bills, but I still wanted to do it. I didn't want to stop because there was this THING inside me- this thing that refused to let me quit- even when most people on the outside probably thought I was delusional, or crazy, or both. But you can't make someone on the outside know how your guts feel because they belong to you. What fuels you from the inside out is something that only you truly know. It's something you own... or more likely, that owns you.
The release of TPG was unreal and unlike anything I'd ever experienced up to that point. It was amazing. It was life changing. It was more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed for. And I loved it and wanted more of it. Sales were incredible and I actually thought for the first time since I started writing in 2010 that I could do this! I could actually make a living working for myself and be my own boss. What a blessing! What an honor! Please don't ever let it stop! :)
And things continued to be unbelievable throughout 2013.
And then 2014 arrived and took a big shit on most of us.
Writing is humbling. I was not prepared for how absolutely lonely and devastating this business could be. I've made incredible friends and met some amazingly strong and smart women since I started, but the truth of the matter is...... we often feel alone. I have never in my life felt more highs and more lows than since I started self-publishing. No matter how many other people can relate to the things you're saying or going through- you still FEEL desperately alone in this business. Because the truth of the matter is, your book sales affect your life and your life only. And while others may understand that sales are down and can relate to it as well, it's still a very personal struggle and burden to bear.
My books are my business. It's all on MY shoulders to think of a story, to write it, to market it, to promote it, to envision things for it, to sell it, and to deal with every single aspect of it. So when I feel like it fails, there is no one to blame but myself. Writer's don't really take breaks- we're either writing, or thinking about writing, or feeling a guilt on par with mommy guilt for not writing. We don't get weekends or nights off and we don't get paid based on the number of hours we work. (Don't get me wrong- working for myself is one of the most fulfilling things I've ever accomplished. And you'll never hear me complain about how many hours I work, or how long, because I know I'm working this hard for me. I'm not working my ass off for someone who doesn't appreciate it, or who doesn't respect me and wants to replace me if they think I suck. I'm working this hard for my number one fan- myself. lol :) )
Almost every single day I hear an author talk about giving up. They question if it's all worth it because they don't feel like it is anymore. You see, when you go from consistently selling a certain # of copies of each one of your books, you start to assume/expect that you will always (at least) sell that # of copies. And when you don't sell even half that number, you think that there's something wrong with you. It's something you did. No matter how many other authors are telling you that the exact same thing is happening to them, you still blame yourself. Somehow, in this crazy fickle business, it has to be YOUR fault, right?
I also think that since the stories most of us tell have pieces of us in them, it's just so much more personal in every single way when things don't go like you expected them too. Or hoped that they would. Because deep down, when you hear other authors talking about how bad it is out there right now, you sort of hope that you'll be immune to it. You silently wish that maybe it was just that author's latest release and hope it won't be the truth for yours.
But then it is.
And you're suddenly thrust into a group you don't want to be a part of, but you're there nonetheless. And while it is slightly reassuring that it isn't "just you" and "your books," you still feel alone in the struggle. You still feel like shit. And you still wonder what you could have done better to make your outcome different. Because you don't want to be like everyone else. You don't want to be part of the group that's struggling. You want to be the exception.
But it's not really up to us... and we know that. We authors have so little control and that's one of the hardest parts. All we can do is tell the stories we choose to tell and the readers do the rest. And it's frustrating as hell sometimes (lots of times). It's heartbreaking. It's gut-wrenching. It's confusing. We look at our sales dashboards and literally have to stop ourselves from crying because we don't understand how things could have changed SO drastically SO quickly. Low sales = low money = can't pay bills.
So we struggle with the whole "what comes next?" Especially when we have kids to take care of and bills to pay. And while I'd never tell anyone what to do with their life or their business, it breaks my heart a little when I see people who I know who are writing for the right reasons, thinking about giving it all up. It's the get rich quick schemer's who should f'n leave this business. Not the one's who are writing because their hearts refuse to let them do anything else.
The absolute bottom line for me is....
I don't want to quit.
I don't want to give up.
I don't want to stop.
And that is so different than how I felt when I worked for someone else. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I wanted to leave.
I don't want out. Because even through all the absolute shit, I still feel that fire in my gut. It still burns inside of me and I'll be damned if I let it burn out. Because the only one who can allow that fire to die, is me. And I feel like I JUST FOUND YOU, FIRE!!! I JUST REALIZED YOU EXISTED!! I'm not ready to give you up!
But it sure as shit helps when you all buy my books. :)