How about a little musical rendition of my morning?
I’ve been in the business a while and have had the good fortune to make some really great friends in this business. In the last month two of them (two really great writers) have talked about bailing. I’ve done my best to talk them down and I can only hope they stick it out.
So why the ledge walk? Here’s the thing, this business has always been tough. Couple that with a market that is flooded with newbies who think they can write (some can, most of them shouldn’t,) and marketing becomes a nightmare. Toss in a bad review, or a publisher throwing your book up on a library site (where you’re lucky to make a buck off your book) and it’s enough to turn the most docile lady into some semblance of trucker-meets-marine-in-a-swear-off.
If you’re a reader, imagine spending up to sixteen hours a day working at your laptop. If you’re not writing, you’re editing. If you’re not editing, you’re popping into Facebook or Twitter to try to be social. If you’re not doing that, you’re scraping together what little money you have for swag, book tours, cover art, editing, formatting…the list really does go on. Your time with your friends and family are stretched thin and you have to sacrifice something…so you forego sleep, exercise, whatever. Now imagine going two solid months without much in sales. Your royalty check is a whopping $27. Where did you go wrong? Certainly, it’s not your dedication.
Everyone and their second cousin sends you private messages, or even worse, posts their service to your wall to cross market to your friends’ list. Because they have something they want to sell you and they’re using you to get their name out there. Yep, it’s cutthroat.
After months of writing, tons of money spent, you wait for reviews to trickle in. (The rate of return from books downloaded/purchased to actual reviews is dismal at best.) Then…bam. A shitty review pops up and someone had the audacity to point out a missing comma. The hundreds of dollars spent on editing didn’t matter. The fact that I still catch editing errors in NYT Best Sellers doesn’t matter. Some special person said you needed to go back to the drawing board or hire some editing service even though you did, and you probably have to sell a hundred books or more just to pay for that service. Does it matter? Nope. Can you reply? HELL NO. It’s suicide. Just bend over, spread your ass cheeks and say, “Thank you, may I have another.”
This is more than some folks can take. The publishing business takes skin like kevlar to survive. This means that we need to embrace each other. Find a few good author friends who you can hang on to when you feel like throwing in the towel.
Most importantly, step away from the computer. Stretch. Go for a walk. Call your girlfriends and have them over for coffee or an adult beverage. Keep writing, but take care of yourselves. To my two author friends who are at their wit’s end…breathe. I love you and you CAN do this!