Thursday, July 16, 2015

What am I worth?

I have changed my tactics to writing, blogging, and book selling, in large part because I am not where I want to be. Obviously, if you're not where you want to be, you need to do something differently. As part of that, I've been reading a lot. I've joined a thousand and one groups, forums, mailing lists - you name it. I've reached out to who knows how many different blogs, writers, publicity gurus etc.

About 75% of the time these people write back, in some way. Usually it is a helpful way.

In one particular instance, it was a situation where the person was making the age old case that you have to spend money to make money.

Now between the two of us, my husband and I have a little under $40k of student debt. My husband works in an industry that does not support its employees, in fact, they kind of shit all over them and then stomp on them, no matter how well trained they are. Of course, he makes too much money for us to qualify for government assistance. Our parents happen to live in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, which means we have to live with them in order to have a place to stay and food to eat. My son has health care because of the ACA. Because of where we live, we have to commute to jobs, and because of a lack of childcare, it doesn't really make sense for me to work at this point.

This is the stress I carry on my shoulders every day.

I have tried a thousand and one tactics already to get my books into readers hands, and here is this person saying the only way I can be successful is by spending money. Money. Something I don't have right now - haven't had for a few years.

I wrote the guy and he actually wrote back, and said nothing I didn't already know. I was grateful he actually responded, but the response did something to me that was unexpected. He wasn't mean, in fact, he was very professional. But it was the fact that he told me things I already knew - things I felt like I couldn't do anything about.

I broke. I just broke. Here was this guy who was supposed to be a guru and he was telling me things I already knew. I felt so defeated.

Here I was, putting every last bit of soul and effort into this - and I still wasn't financially successful. I wasn't getting reviews. I wasn't getting people to buy my books. Granted, people love the books when they read them. Any time I talk to people about them they end up buying a copy. And loving it. Seriously. But I wasn't connecting to enough readers. People weren't coming across my books and buying them. I had a steady trickle of purchases, but nothing to write home about.

I felt like a failure. I was ready to jump off a bridge. The thought actually entered my mind. I cried the rest of the day.

Slowly reason seeped into my consciousness.

The voice (in this case my father's) said: You might not be able to buy another domain, but you could change the landing page to allow for multiple brands.
Me: Okay, I can do that. Next week on update day I can do that.
The voice: Stop 'asking' for reviews. Call in all your chips. Tell anyone and everyone who you know has read your books - I need reviews.
Me: Okay. I can do that. I'll do that.

I started doing that. I felt a little better.

The voice came back (in this case my husband's): You already knew the things this guy told you. Keep working at this. Keep tweaking things. Write a blog post about this. You have more.

I did. I felt even better.

The voice came back a third time (in this case the one in my head): There are more things I haven't done. Try them. See this through. I have a purpose. I am enough.

So here I am. I have a purpose to my writing. I want to educate empathy - specifically compassion. I want everyone to know what is possible in books, with characters, with life. I want to be a catalyst for social change. I want to leave a legacy for my son. This is my purpose.

When there is a purpose, things happen. I believe that. I have everything I need to realize my purpose. I believe I will encounter those driven to work with me. There are no accidents. No coincidences. There is will, and therefore way.

I am sharing all this because I know I'm not alone. My situation is one that has played out many times before over the centuries. I know every modern author isn't in quite as dire of straits as I am. A lot of writers have day jobs, or spouses who essentially sponsor them. I know a lot of people do not need their writing to work for them. And it is nice to have that. There is comfort in that.

I am not comfortable which is why I need you to understand exactly what is at stake for me - for people like me. I need you to know me. To understand my drive. To understand why I struggle every day to do and be more.

When you read my books, understand that through everything, I am baring myself. I am giving you a piece of me to carry with you. When you read my books, you are participating in my life through the lives of my characters. That is the gift I am giving you.

Now tell me, what is it worth?

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