Because I’m so close to releasing my first book, Second Star: Breaking Through, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m trying to get out of this whole “writer” thing. What goals am I trying to accomplish and how am I going to measure success? Of course, numbers are important, but is that all it really boils down to?
Yesterday, while watching my writing partners swim around aimlessly in their own little private world, I decided that numbers weren’t really the driving force for my writing, and that I would count it a success if I sold one copy or one million copies. Hell, I’m going to be writing anyway, I’ve been doing it for years before I even learned about the world of Indie Publishing.
I mean, if I’m going to be writing anyway, whatever money I make is just a bonus, right?
As I was writing Breaking Through, I constantly worried about it if would sell or not. Of course, I want people to enjoy the book, but for some reason I had it in my head that if it wasn’t a breakout hit, it would be a failure.
That’s when my own light bulb came on. DING! I didn’t have to write a breakout hit with my first book. Don’t get me wrong, that would be awesome, but I was putting so much pressure on myself thinking that if the book didn’t immediately soar to the bestseller list in its first week then what was the point? When selling books really isn’t the point at all, its writing them and knowing that people are reading them. Even if it’s only twenty people.
I write because I enjoy writing.
You say, “But doesn’t it cost a lot of money to publish your work?” Well, sure, it does, but then I would come back with this, “what hobbies don’t cost money?” And my follow up would be, “and how many of those hobbies pay you back?”
Now, granted, I’ve only made a grand total of $5 on my first published story, The Watch, but I’m completely okay with that. There are people out there that have read my work, and from the feedback I’ve received, it appears that people enjoyed it. That’s enough for me.
I don't plan to hit it big; in fact, I don't even plan to hit it any size. I plan on writing stories, then making those stories into the highest quality book I can and putting them out there for people read. If it took Elmore Leonard thirty years to make it big, why should I care if I make it big with my first book?
When I was considering going back to school a few years about, I was talking with my Dad and I told him it was going to take forever to graduate. I said, “Dad, at this rate I won’t graduate til I’m 40.” His answer to this was so profound I literally blew my mind and changed the way I look at almost everything I set out to do, he said, "Well, son, you're going to be 40 anyway, so you can be 40 with a degree or 40 without one."
If by some anomaly it sells a gazillion copies, well, I’ll probably freak-out for a few days and then I’ll write the next one. If it doesn't sell a gazillion copies then I'll still be writing the next one, and the next one, and the next one.
It’s what I do.