Thursday, December 22, 2011
What a Difference a Year Makes
Sometimes, dreams can be elusive. You pour all your energy into them, years go by and it seems you're no closer to than you were when you started. The bigger and bolder those dreams are, the smaller the guarantee that you'll ever attain them.
It can be a struggle. It can be painful. Hope appears unexpectedly and then gets dashed on the rocks into a million little pieces. Writers know this heartbreak well. Yet dreams spur us on, whisper in our ear to 'keep trying, keep trying'. Many times we talk sense into ourselves and settle for a safer, less frustrating existence.
I don't know how many of you are reality show junkies, but I shamelessly admit to being one. There are always contestants, particularly on talent shows like The X-Factor and American Idol, who step forward and share the story of their struggles: poverty, addiction, years on the road seeking out that one big break. Talent and persistence alone don't always equal success. Sometimes the missing element is just plain luck.
A year ago, I had sold an unimpressive total of about 400 e-books after six months and three books. It wasn't even enough to cover my start-up expenses. Satisfied, I'd given it a go, I signed up at the local community college for courses in biology and geology. I had bills to pay and I accepted that my life was headed down a new path - that of becoming a teacher. An admirable vocation and it was about time I put my neglected degree to use. For four months, I didn't write a single word. Encouraged by a steady uptick in sales, I continued to market my work, but I was thoroughly convinced there wouldn't be a fourth book. It just wasn't worth the effort anymore.
Fast forward a year later and not only is the fourth book out, but I'm close to finishing my fifth. By Christmas, I'll have sold a total of 30,000 e-books. So yeah, for now at least, it looks like this is my career. It doesn't touch what Amanda Hocking, John Locke or a dozen others (see here) have done in this rapidly changing world of publishing, but it's waaay more than I ever imagined possible.
I wanted to share this because I know a lot of writers who have published more recently or who are still struggling to increase sales. I can only advise patience and hard work. It's extremely rare for a book to take off out of the gate, especially a debut. It's crowded out there and it's getting harder and harder to get noticed. I understand the frustration, but if you chuck your dreams today, whatever they are, you may never know how close you were to reaching them.
Meanwhile, enjoy the journey. As Socrates said, "If you really want to get to Mt. Olympus, make sure every step you take is in that direction."
Oh, and Merry Christmas! In celebration, I'm going shopping because my brain is fried from reading medieval history.