What happens after you do everything the writing and publishing ‘experts’ advise you to do, and your writing career is still middling at best, a flamingo flapping its wings in a slow tedious takeoff?
I have become convinced that the indie publishing world is much like the traditional publishing world: you have to know the right people.
In traditional pub, you need to have personal connections to literary agents and interns, people in the know. –It also helps to have publishing credits before you can get published.– In indie pub you need a stellar, established social (online) standing, with vast email lists, family who support you and friends who will post reviews for you.
But what happens if you are on the fringes?
You need to be a Writer, Publisher, and Marketer
What if: you were not blessed with built-in connections (Christopher Paolini), you weren’t born with a natural affinity for making connections (the gift of gab), you don’t have the money to travel to and sign up for expensive writing conventions to make those connections anyway; your family is not interested or helpful in any way, and none of your friends are readers (you wouldn’t trust non-readers with reviewing your work anyhow)?
In such a position, ‘breaking out’ seems about as easy as breaking out of a super-max.
I’m not complaining. Quite the opposite; I intend to chug along as I always have, persistence wins the day and all that. I do what they advise and make some sales, but until the kindhearted souls who purchase my books decide to take a moment to leave a positive review, I cannot imagine the pace of sales will change.
In such a case (more common than you think), you have to wonder: is it insane to continue pursuing something when the result is always the same? When does your joy in the act of creation begin to wane?
But that’s wading into semantics and philosophical waters.
The Question All Writers Face
The question you, as a struggling writer (or more aptly, a struggling publisher) need to ask is: If I knew my career would never take off, would I still keep writing?
Think about that for a second.
If your answer is NO, then maybe you’re just spinning your wheels, expending time and thought and creative energy on something unfruitful when you could be spending it all on something far more rewarding in your own esoteric way.
If on the other hand your answer is YES, then none of the above should get you down. You are a dream warrior, valiantly pursuing your dream no matter the struggle, heartache, frustrations and the tantalizing doorways teasing new worlds that you might someday enter.
One day your muse might come along, see your AMS ad, click over to your books’ page, purchase your brilliant work, and then–angel that she is–leave a sterling review of the book she now lists among her Top Ten. It could happen. That tiniest glimmer of hope is enough to keep the ink in some writers’ pens.
So ask yourself that question. Would I keep writing if I knew it would never make me money?
If you love what you do, then do what you love regardless of the lack of return on your investment. Some people go their whole lives without ever discovering their passion, without ever finding some endeavor that makes them happy. Your joy in the act of creation can carry you forward—while you also keep a day job to support you and yours.
There are plenty of inspirational stories out there, real tales of successful writers who spent years toiling in anonymity, knowing—like you—nothing but rejection or the echoing empty hallways of neglect.
Then something happened; the right person entered their life. Maybe that person left a review and spread the word to everyone she knew about this unknown authors’ awesome work.
The Sum of the Whole
I tapped out this little posit not just for my own edification, but for the benefit of all those who also struggle with pre-break-out writer’s blues (or at least of all those who struggle with that and who happen to stumble here to buckelsbooks).
For further encouragement, you might check out bustle’s post on successful authors who began in miserly conditions, who once struggled just like you and I, and who forged ahead despite their chronic failure to reach new heights of publishing success.
I pray God may bless your endeavors, and that you meditate on Matthew 6:33:
‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’
(But don’t seek the kingdom just to receive these things—tricky isn’t it?)