So, I’ve got 9 books published on Amazon right now. I’ve been a self-published author for a year and a half now and it has not been easy at all.
In the beginning, I was excited. Friends and family were super supportive and my first novel – which was not professionally edited – was a hit. To this day, it has the most reviews out of all other books. Then I published another, and then another. I continued revising my old manuscripts for publication until I was itching to write something new. The Decimus Trilogy came out by the end of 2015. It was a hastily put together series, born from a single short story. Then, my pride and joy, my flag ship, the first novel I ever penned, The Enigma, was released in June and it seemed to be hit. I just released its sequel and my next novel, Passions, is up on Kindle Scout for a publishing contract.
Through it all, I’ve struggled with editing and marketing. I’ve poured money into advertisement that yielded no profits and made book covers for novels that may never see the light of day. I’ve had moments of confidence and moments of crippling self doubt.
I write this with the disclaimer that I am in one of those crippling self doubt moments and I’m sure I’ll pull out of it soon, but while I’m in this rut, I’d like to express the hardships that come with being a writer and creator of original content (artists, poets, etc.)
My writing is not where I want it to be. It’s not where it was, thank the good Lord above, but it’s not what it should be. Classes and how-to books can only get you so far. Sometimes, you have the scene imagined perfectly in your mind but somehow it just doesn’t flow that easily onto the paper. I read amazing novels by classic and modern authors alike, and I marvel at how they can weave these wonderful stories and use the right choice of words to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. It blows my mind when I’ve spent a few hours reading Susan Krinard, and then I go to reading something I wrote and realize how crappy I am in comparison.
In this life, it may be detrimental to compare oneself to other writers and authors who have had much more experience and resources than yourself. But then, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow self-published author. Her FIRST novel was released two months ago and she’s gotten amazing reviews. I read them and I would kill my main characters for reviews like that. She didn’t pay a professional for editing, she didn’t hire a big time graphic designer to do her cover. She just paid a couple hundred to a marketing company and she’s already on the map. I’ve spent the same, if not more, on marketing tactics and didn’t sell a single book.
When I hear about these successes, I have mixed emotions. I’m happy for my colleague and her future as an author. But then I’m envious of how talented she must be to get so many wonderful reviews when I struggle to sell a few books in a month’s time.
I wonder what I’m doing wrong. I wonder how no matter how much advertising I do, no one will buy my books. I wonder if those friends and family who first supported me in the beginning think I’m really not that good and cheer me on because they feel obligated to. I wonder if those reviews on Amazon are real and if those people who read my books and didn’t review think I’m an idiot and terrible writer. I wonder if it’s even worth the money and the trouble. I wonder if trying to find a literary agent would even work or if I should bother. I wonder about how much longer I’ll have the strength to carry on this career. I wonder if I’ll ever achieve my dream of being a stay-at-home author.
At the same time, I wonder what life would be without writing. I wonder if I’d be able to cope with reality without escaping into fantasy every now and again. I wonder what everyone would think of me for quiting. I wonder what my husband would do if he found out I’d given up. I wonder how much regret I’d shoulder for years if I just gave up now. I wonder how many people, who actually might want to hear my stories, would be disappointed to not see anything new from me.
Then I realize that even if I never publish another novel, I have to keep writing. I love to write. It’s my passion and it’s all I’ve ever known. Even if I’m not good at it, even if I can never make it to bookstore shelves, I have to do what makes me happy. Being an author isn’t easy, but being a writer is my life. I’ll always want to create stories and even if the ideas could come to life better in someone else’s imagination, I have to keep going for my own sake. Writing is my life, even if I suck at it.