Writing is an uphill climb. It starts as an interesting idea worming its way into your brain, slowly taking root. The idea turns into an obsession threatening to consume you from within unless you let it out. So you start writing. One word at a time, the obsession hashes out into a story. Rich with characters and complexities serving to convey the premise upon which the idea began, you finally write those long-awaited words, “The End.”
And then the real work begins.
After taking a break from your creation to clear your head, you come back to it and read it out loud. You correct the obvious spelling and grammar errors missed by your Word Processor’s less-than-stellar spellcheck. When this is done, you read the manuscript aloud again, pulling apart every sentence to make sure it flows with the one before and the one after. Slowly, but surely, the rough draft evolves into the novel it was always meant to be.
But it’s not quite there yet.
You hand your manuscript over to a trusted, unbiased critic (hopefully with an outstanding grasp on grammar, spelling, and the English language) and allow them to slice into your words and make them bleed. Blood red errors and nuances to be improved come back at you to remind you how easy it is to overlook your own mistakes. So you run head-on into the cleanup process, mopping up the red and replacing it with the black that should have been there in the first place.
Once you’re ready to reveal your story to the world, you set to formatting the manuscript so that it’s ready for publication. Once you’re sure it’s the way it’s supposed to be, and you’ve emailed the .mobi file to your Kindle device for the one hundredth time, you click submit and you’re story is available on Amazon.
But no one buys it.
The masses do not flock to your story, reading in a frenzy, showering it with reviews and accolades. Traditional publishers don’t knock down your door, fighting each other for exclusive rights to turn your book into a profit for their company. No one has heard of your book—or you (unless you already have an audience; in which case: lucky you). It collects e-dust on the e-shelf of Amazon Kindles endless annals of self-published e-books.
It’s time to change hats.
You’re not a writer anymore; you’re a salesperson. A marketing guru. A social media whiz. An entrepreneur. Effectively, you become your own agent. I know. I hate this part too. Self-promoting is such a weird thing to do. What if people don’t take you seriously? How many times do you ask people to buy your book? And once you get them to buy it, how do you get them to read it? And never mind getting the few people you’ve haggled into reading it to take three-to-five minutes of their precious time to leave an honest, critical review on Amazon!
By the time you get an author website, establish a page on Facebook, search out advertising and promotional options to generate awareness about your book, and tell every living soul you come into contact with you start to realize a terrible truth.
Writing is an uphill climb.
And it never ends. After you put in the time and effort to do what you love (writing), and do the same for the not as fun but necessary parts (editing), you focus your time and attention to marketing and promotion. Somewhere along the journey you start to realize that it is WAY harder to sell a book than it is to write one. The most frustrating part about it is the struggle to find a balance between working on your next writing project, and promoting the previous one. It’s easy to lose heart. Typically, something’s got to give and one area or the other suffers.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
The good news? You’re a beautiful, talented, creative writer passionate about your art and taking it seriously enough to put in the work required. You’re still here, and you’re not going to quit. Never quit. That’s the only way you can truly fail. Some authors wait years before their work receives any recognition or return. When the going gets tough, you have to take a long hard look in the mirror and tell the individual staring back at you, “It’s gonna be worth it.” Because it will. Being a writer is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Even this is an imperfect analogy as there is no finish line in this race. Once you’ve made it as far as you ever thought you would, there’s more on the horizon.
I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. As always, thank you so much for reading!