I've been independently publishing for a while now. In addition to voraciously studying the craft of writing, I've scrutinized every aspect of marketing. I've done the research. And I've done most things right. No, I have, trust me. I've had the best cover designers, killer blurbs, made sure the stories hit all the marks and were well edited, priced my books right, used targeted keywords, bought the best marketing I could afford, did cross promos with other authors, Facebook ads, AMS ads, newsletters, giveaways ... You name it, I did it.
And it worked! I was able to make a living from my book sales.
And then it stopped working. It stopped working hard.
For months, I've been in downward spiral, propping myself up and pretending like everything is okay -- except it's not. It's not okay. My writing career is floundering. I'm struggling to sell books for $3.99 when people are buying $6.00 lattes on a daily basis.
"Maybe it's time to get a job ..." (actual words spoken to me)
Last time I checked, writing is a job. I work harder now than I did in my twenty four years in advertising (an industry that left me depressed and suicidal). It's not only hours of writing, but there's a ton of marketing and research. It's actually two jobs that take up a lot of time and energy. Ask my friends who rarely see me, even on the weekends, because I'm always working. All the time working.
To supplement my dwindling book income, I took a part-time nanny gig. Now it looks like I might have to get another job to supplement my supplemental job. And this is with thirteen published books, friends. Books that are not terrible. Books my readers love. I have no idea why they don't sell.
Here's the thing, the real struggle isn't financial. My husband won't kick me out on the streets if I don't bring in enough money. The struggle is emotional. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm bummed. I'm ashamed I can't figure it out. I just want to write books. Let me rephrase that, I want to make a living writing books.
Yeah, I know this sounds whiny, but seriously -- why can't I have both? Write books AND make money. Thousands of authors are doing it quite successfully. I was doing it for a period of time.
I don't know where my writing career will go from here, but I do know -- without an inkling of doubt -- that I'll keep writing. No matter what.
If you're a struggling author, my heart goes out to you. You're not alone. What helps me is to remember that writing is a gift. And while the world might be indifferent whether I publish another book or not, it matters to me. It matters to the One who bestowed me with the gift of writing.
As writers, it's our job to keep writing -- no matter what. We don't know who will read our words or what sort of ripples they may make in the world. Maybe we'll make one person less indifferent. Or maybe we'll inspire someone to write their own stories. Or maybe we can show people that reading books is far more fulfilling than coffee.
Winnie is bummed, too.
Keep writing. It saves lives.