The last week I’ve had a Facebook feed filled with authors responding to/venting about complaints they’ve received in reviews or emails from readers. To add to that, I’ve gotten many messages or questions over the last year asking about why I write and advice for someone just starting out.
I think I’ve come up with a way to address some of these things, but I can’t do it all in one post. So, I’m going to start a little series of helpful (I hope) blog posts talking about things people should know before diving into this business (or looking down on indie authors).
I’m going to start with a big question today: should I write the Thing I’m thinking about?
Should you? Well, yes. Yes, you should write the Thing. If it’s burning a hole in your brain, if you lay awake nights thinking about the Thing, if you’ve stared at a blank notebook or Word document debating on taking that first step, YES. Yes, definitely write the Thing.
However, if you’re considering writing the Thing because you think it will make you a pile of money taller than Hogwarts, if you think it’s the fast-track to fortune and fame, if you think EVERYONE WILL LOVE THIS THING… Well, that’s less of a good reason, and incredibly unrealistic. Does it happen? Sure, but those kinds of books are rare. They’re like rainbows, you can certainly see them, but the odds of catching one? You’re probably better off flailing at windmills and hoping to power a city with the wind you generate. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m saying it’s highly improbable.
“But My Thing is different! My Thing will make Harry Potter look like small potatoes!”
I’m gonna be harsh for a second, but I think you need to hear it. No, Your Thing won’t be bigger than Harry Potter. Nothing is bigger than Harry Potter. I’m not saying it’s bad to shoot for, but you will likely be met with crushing disappointment, and the Shiny Thing you loved so much will become a venomous, pulsating boil on your happiness because it will remind you of your perceived failure. When you have that kind of an astronomical goal stuck in your head and anything less is unacceptable, reality is going to hurt. A lot.
But back to that Thing you want to write. Write it. Love it. Pour your heart into those words and knock the first draft out as best you can. This is good. You need to do that, you need to love it, because what comes next might make you forget that a little. Remember that love is important, BUT, and it’s a big but, love means accepting that a Thing has flaws. Unlike with people, you can fix Your Thing. You will need an editor. At the very least, you need several other sets of eyeballs looking at Your Thing without loving it simply because it’s yours. You must be open to hear the criticisms and fix the Thing you love. Fixing it will help other people to love it, too. If this is an unacceptable step for you, if you will not listen, if you will reject any and all advice, put Your Thing away and be happy that you accomplished that much. Your Thing is not ready to be shared. No, it’s not. I wouldn’t lie to you, so just stop arguing right now. It. Is. Not. Ready.
The question for you shouldn’t be whether or not you should write, but it’s more what you want to get out of it. If you just want to get the Thing out of your head, that’s a good reason, but if you want to sell the Thing, there is much, much, much, much, much more involved in the process. If you ask me, I’ll tell you to write it. If you ask me if I think you can sell it… that answer varies more than snowflake formations. All I can tell you is whether or not I’d buy it, or if *I* think there’s a good market for it. In a lot of cases, especially in genres I don’t write and don’t keep up with, I honestly don’t know. You should definitely Google that.
In the next week, I’m going to share some harsh truths with you about the business of self-publishing. I’m currently collecting numbers from other indie authors as to what they’ve spent on getting their books out and what they’ve made. My goal is to show you what the reality of this business is, what to maybe expect, and what to be prepared for. If you can read through all of that and still want to dive into this venture, YES, you should definitely press forward.
But first, you have to write the Thing. Write it and love it. Then, hang on for dear life. If you’re making words, you’re officially a writer. Congratulations. Being a published writer is an entirely different animal, and a much more difficult thing to be.
So if you’re in for that much, please stick around. I have A LOT to share with you, and it will definitely open your eyes.