A lesson in not comparing yourself.
We hear so many success stories about indie authors who have sold such a huge amount of books that they’ve ended up with huge publishing contracts, film deals or enormous salaries, that it’s easy for many of us to wonder why we can’t seem to sell more than a handful of books a day (or week). We might even become discouraged, thinking our writing obviously isn’t good enough. We ignore the fact that the sales tactics/marketing campaigns employed by most of these authors may simply be beyond our reach.
For example, I recently read a news article about an indie author who was now a bestseller with a five or six figure salary (I know there’s a pretty big difference in that extra zero but it’s all relative right?). Pretty cool, I thought. Then I read how he did it. I’m not saying he isn’t a great writer, but that’s not really why he’s so successful. It’s because when he brought his first book out he spent a couple of hundred dollars a day marketing it online. A day!
Well, that’s great if you can afford it, but sadly most of us can’t. Nor can we afford to quit our day jobs and churn out six books a year, which is the other method of many commercially successful indie authors. At the same time, it seems everyone wants to charge us for our dream. Magazines charge submission fees. Competitions charge entry fees. Book promotion services charge. Editors charge. Cover designers charge. Of course, these people do have to earn a living. But for a beleaguered writer it can seem like everyone wants a piece of us and the returns are rarely enough to make a living on.
So what do we do? Well, there’s not much we can do. Though I do make it a rule never to submit to anywhere that charges a fee. Magazines are supposed to make their money out of their readers, not writers. But the reality is that unless you have a big budget for marketing your book, then you’re probably going to have to do it the old fashioned way- with excellent writing and the gradual building of a dedicated fan base. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll write that book that will get you a five figure advance. But even if you don’t, never allow something as sordid as money to detract from your pleasure in your art. Riches or fame are unlikely for most of us. And we can’t really do anything about that. But there’s one thing we can all control. We can be great writers anyway.