Being an author is the hardest job in the world. Yes, it is.
Not the writing part, mind you. Writing is easy; it’s like breathing, like sipping hot chocolate, with whipped cream or the 100% Arabica coffee that I love. Writing is like sailing along on a morning breeze over a silvery ocean in the opaque light of a sun bleached by a night of storm and rain. It’s the sweet, scent of roses in a balmy sunset or that slice of pizza you really, really wanted. It’s an escape, a dream fulfilled, an alternate reality, a thing of beauty.
See, here’s the thing: When you start writing your first novel you don’t think about publishing. Or I didn’t. I didn’t think of going out there and submitting my story to a publisher. I had a couple of friends who read it, friends I’d met on twitter, and that was far as I was going to go. Not even my family was allowed to take a peek; I was way too embarrassed for that. It was my story, my fantasy, and that’s how I wanted to keep it.
Of course you know by now that fate had other things planned for me. Enter Buddhapuss Ink, the publisher who found and followed me on twitter, and who eventually published all the books I’ve written so far.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. When I signed my first book deal I imagined myself living like Castle in a few years. You know—Manhattan penthouse loft, Ferrari, nice restaurants, the works. That was before I realized that writing a book was just the tip of the iceberg, and that a lot of work was waiting for me that I’d never expected to do. Blogging, for instance. I’ve covered that ground in another blog post so I won’t go to go there again.
But who knew how hard it is to sell books? I had no idea. Naive little me, I’d always assumed that if you write a book that’s good enough to be picked up by a publisher, a book that wins an important award, that it would fly off the shelves. I mean, if a publisher likes it well enough to sink their money into it, and an award jury likes it well enough to give it a medal, shouldn’t that mean that other people, aka readers, will love it to?
See, that’s exactly the point. They do love it. Once they’ve noticed it.
I remember telling my publisher, when we first talked, before the first book contract was signed, that I was ready to do anything to market my books except dance naked on tables.
Back then I thought that I was being hysterically funny. Actually, I wasn’t. Because with the internet going crazy and Amazon offering a new release every five minutes, one single book, award-winning or not, is no more than a single ant in an anthill as large as Manhattan.
That’s me; that single ant. And it’s every other author I know, too.
So basically what I’m trying to say here is, if you’re in this for money, forget it. Unless you’re E.L.James or James Patterson or George R.R. Martin you won’t be able to pay your bills with your royalty money. You might use it to help pay for part of an amazing research trip. Or you can treat your family to a fancy sushi dinner. Or buy yourself that Michael Kors purse you’ve been coveting for so long,but sorry, not enough for a Hermès Birkin bag.
As for the rest, enjoy what you’re doing. Write for fun! Write for your friends, your family, yourself, the publisher who believes in you, for awards, and most importantly, for your readers.
It’s a journey, enjoy the ride, but forget the money. And if you get very, very lucky, and you do make it big, and you want to share, I'll let you know where to find me.