Have I done a post on indie writer blues? I’m not sure if I have, and I don’t really feel like surfing through all my old posts.
Today, when I say “indie writer blues,” I’m talking about that nagging voice in my head that keeps reminding me of how many books I’ve sold. (Not a lot.) It also likes to remind me of how many books it takes to be a bestseller, how far I am away from that number, and how many other authors have gotten there.
Yes, yes, “the odds are against me.” I’ve been told. I’ve told myself that. I’ve written it on a sticky note and stuck it on my desk.
But today is one of those days were it feel further than it did before. As an indie author, I’m less likely to land on the bestseller list. People are less likely to take a chance on an unknown author and really less likely to take a chance on an unknown indie author. It’s the hardship we face. It’s the assumptions people make about indie writers being bad writers. (Or maybe I’m secretly a bad writer and no one’s been kind enough to blow the whistle in my face.)
Sure, there are bad indie writers out there, but we’re not all bad. I’d like to consider myself a good writer, but am I the best judge of that? No, of course not. Sure, I like the books I’ve written and the stories I’m working on, but that’s like my mother saying that I’m pretty. Of course, she’d say that. No decent mother would admit that her daughter was unattractive to her face.
And it seems like there’s a never ending list of indie authors with books they want to push. Everyone wants to get their book read, but they’re not so keen on being the reader. It just feels like there are more writers than readers, and sometimes it feels like the people doing the writing aren’t readers. Does that make sense?
I’m feeling the blues about the whole “indie” affair. I’m feeling pushed aside because of my indie status and about not landing an agent; does that make me a bad writer? I don’t know. “Good” and “bad” are subjective, and like agents, barely mean anything anymore.
I suppose this is the reality of writing. Most writers don’t hit the big-time. Most authors are small-time with day jobs and big dreams. We all want to think that we’ll be the next big author whose books get made into a well-loved movie. But, truth is, we probably won’t be.
Am I accepting defeat? Fudge no! I’ll keep on writing whether or not I get to the big time or to the bestseller list. I write, therefore I am a writer. If I cease to write, I cease to be. So I’ll keep trudging through the waters of indie-land with the hope in the back of my mind that I’ll break through.
9 thoughts on “Indie Writer Blues (#2?)”
Didn’t realize you had written a book. When you have a bad day, just look at your book reviews and pat yourself on the back.
I agree. Pat yourself on the back.
And look closer at the numbers. There are a lot of people who write one book and one book only. Why? Because they found out it was tough, that their first go didn’t equal ‘the dream’ – you and I both know the dream comes at the end of a hard slog up a mountain of words, ten thousand hours or more of skills in mastering the craft, more than one book (it usually takes about ten or so before readers seem to ‘notice’ your page), and, as you say, always writing the next one.
If you want a reader (either during the process, as in critique partner [yes, quid-pro-qo] or similar) let me know. I may not be prefect, but I [now] understand structure, scene, goal and reaction, clips and – well, I love reading.
And honest (I try not to be brutal, but my questions are blunt).
If you’re interested, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org – and I don’t take offence if it’s no.
And the rest of those numbers: less than 10% (might even be less than 5%) of writers make up the top 100 in sales, and they have more than fifteen books (very rarely otherwise). Some writers are happy to only sell to family and friends, some give up when they’re not ‘discovered’ immediately, some plod along doing what they love, regardless of what happens. Many, many, many writers are afraid to put up another story if they get some bad words said about the first, or if, worse, no one reads it. They think it says something about them – it doesn’t.
When I looked at the numbers, I found this: of the 400k (roughly) titles, 7% of the authors had more than one title, 3% of those authors were congregated at the top of the sales charts (the top 100 sellers – by author, not title), and aiming for the top 200 could earn your a living.
There is hope, that bright white light emanating from the cave at the top of the mountain, and even if the path is rough and littered with slips and slides and messy bits, courage and determination (and friends) get you there.
Keep it up.
Well said, I tried to stop writing due to my book sales not taking off – but I couldn’t. And it was a powerful lesson to learn about myself and my connection to the craft.
This is my second visit to your blog, and I’m very glad I found it. After releasing my second novel, I’ve been languishing in the writing doldrums. It’s an awful place to be. You posts make me feel less alone. Hopeful, even. (And Cage Dunn up there? I’m going to have to send him a fruit basket of thanks for all of his encouraging words.)
This is a hard profession, but you can do it. We can all do it. But we’re going to need each other to do it. It’s a hard thing to face for those of us who create entire worlds just so that we can escape the ones we live in, but it doesn’t make it any less true. That said, I read just as much as I write, and I’m a big believer in paying it forward. I know I’m basically a stranger on the internet, but if you find yourself in need of a reader opinion or a fresh set of eyes, I volunteer as tribute.
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Welcome to the wasteland! It feels like a wasteland most of the time – it’s hard to find a place on the internet that’s not bitter and full of trolls.
An inspirational quote by a fellow indie writer:
“…Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
“This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…”
Now that was Rainer Maria Rilke, and he was a little dramatic, perhaps, in the above quote; but still, he was a fellow writer who mostly lived in poverty and lived only to write, and in retrospect, he is considered one of the great poets of the twentieth century.
^ Correction: Rilke straddled the nineteenth and twentieth century.
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I could probably handle poverty if I could still write all the time. I mean… I don’t do anything else much now, haha.
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I relate to this post so much! Definitely been there.