Sometimes when I sift through social media and the blogging world, I feel as though I am the only author who doesn’t want to make this my full time career. Does that make me any less serious about the craft? Does that make my novels any less enjoyable than someone who does only this? I don’t think so.
In many instances, full time authors are praised for “doing what they love”. I agree that’s a wonderful thing to be able to do. Some days, what I would love to do has very little to do with writing or even my actual 9-6. Some days, I would love to curl up in bed and sleep all day while getting paid. Wouldn’t you?
Most of the time, however, I’m very much content to work an actual job Monday through Friday and then write on the weekends. I don’t subscribe to the starving artist theory that one has to suffer for their talent. Me, I can do both!
I’ve grown accustomed to my lifestyle working outside the home. I like driving my brand new car, living in a nice home in a good school district, not penny pinching at the grocery store and being able to splurge on little extras without giving it a second thought. Realistically, if I were to write full time, I’d have to give all of that up.
Never mind the fact that I work for a company where I feel that I’m valued. They want me to accept more responsibilities and are ready to help me grow. They’ve shown this time and again, and I don’t doubt that this will continue. They are also incredibly supportive of my writing career, from the very top executive all the way down.
I understand that some self-publishers have done so out of necessity. Either due to a disability, a job loss, or because they want to spend time at home with their young children, it’s their choice. And it’s a difficult path to walk down. Trust me, I’ve experienced job loss in my family before and it is tough. Even if my own experiences would have occurred after the self-publishing revolution, I wouldn’t have immediately thought of writing as the answer to all of my prayers. Yes, it works for some. You’ll hear their stories and become inspired. But what you won’t hear are the stories of the thousands just like them who didn’t get discovered.
Here’s a reality check for you. Granted, my numbers are a little skewed because I don’t self-promote like I should. I don’t need to, because I do this for the love of writing. But I do sell on a consistent basis. Even without talking myself up, readers still find me (maybe because of the permafree series starter) and keep buying. I have preorders on record for a book coming out in 5 months that I’ve barely even mentioned.
Even so, this year (my best year so far since my first book was published in 2013) I will make less in book sales than I do during a single week at my 9-6. And that’s total royalties, not taking into account the expenses that I shell out for book covers, giveaways and the occasional paid promotion. At this level, I make sure I promote enough to wipe out all of my royalties so I can claim a business loss.
If I truly, honestly, wanted to work full time as a writer, I wouldn’t do it until I was making at least as much as I do outside the home. In other words, I would have to sell more books every single month than I have ever sold combined the entire time I’ve been published. I’m not naive. I know it will be a cold day in hell before that ever happens.
But still I keep writing. Because it is what I love to do. I’m telling the stories that I want to tell, which aren’t in the genres that are getting big sales. And there is a terrific freedom in being true to myself and writing the books I want to. Yes, my books dabble quite heavily in the romantic realm, but they aren’t the flavor of the month variety, capitalizing on the stepbrother/millionaire/rockstar/whatever craze.
It doesn’t make me any less ambitious than the next author out there who pours his or her heart and soul into their work. It just makes me less worried about the end result, because in the scheme of things, reception to my books doesn’t matter. I write for myself, and for the select few who have discovered me and found something they like there. I don’t need to appeal to the masses, and that’s exactly how I like it.
In the end, we all have to decide what our goals are and use those as a means of determining our own success. Am I successful at what I do? The answer is a resounding yes.