You ever feel like a failure? Yeah, me too.
Something stuck with me recently, as I was reading about success in hopes of osmotic transformation.
An author was talking about the times when you feel like quitting--you know, when it feels like nothing is going right and you'll never succeed, and obstacle after obstacle are thrown in your way.
Pretty much everyone will reach that point in an endeavour. Often you've already pushed through your own feelings of discouragement and frustration and given it extra time/work/money/energy.
Nobody would fault you for quitting at that point. You gave it better than your best shot. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be, right? It's not your fault. Maybe you're trying to succeed in a system that doesn't reward effort or intellect or ability. Maybe it's not a meritocracy. Hell, life is not a meritocracy.
But, this author pointed out, it's the people who push past this breaking point that ultimately succeed. They won't take "no" for an answer. They may change their strategy, adjust their goals, or pivot in other ways. But they keep going, when 99% of others don't.
It's still hard to know what to do, especially in this business.
Write to market, write to trend, write the book of your heart, write what you know, write what you want to read, write what's hot, write what's not... Shifter romance not working for you? Switch to cozy mysteries, or epic space opera! Hire ghostwriters! Start new pens! Reinvent the wheel but make sure it's still round. Become a different person but always be true to yourself.
Oh, and don't forget to keep up with all the genre and business goings-on, from Amazon glitches to author drama. Listen to podcasts, read blogs, pore over every book in the genre in which you want to write. Build your subscriber list! Meanwhile, don't forget to diversify your income streams with everything you publish! And learn the intricacies of advertising on Facebook, AMS, Bookbub. And engage sincerely on social media every day, in every platform.
It's exhausting. I think only indie authors really understand everything that goes into the process, from the first glimmer of an idea to marketing a backlist. Editing, graphic design, marketing, newsletters... You end up with logins to a hundred websites, and you need software to organize your own passwords (and heaven help you if you forget the password to THAT site).
I've struggled with my writing "career" in the past 18 months. In the beginning I suffered from the sin of self-confidence, believing that my own inherent talent would be discovered in time, bit by bit. Bwahahahahahaha! See, I write comedy!
Throughout this process I've done everything I can to be transparent, honest, and helpful to others. In online forums I use my pen name, because I never want to say anything publicly that I won't stand behind. I admit my mistakes (of which I've made many). I've made amazing friends, some of whom I've had the delight to meet IRL and some of whom I've sadly drifted away from.
I've really tried to put on a brave face. I'm happy for my friends who succeed when I... don't (still envious AF, though). I've watched authors who started after me pass me by, and I've tried to learn from everything and everybody. I'm still confident in my actual WRITING, which helps keep me going. I'm inspired by the books I read, the authors I follow, the gurus who are passionate about this business.
I've posted "data porn" and chronicled launches and flops. I begged for advice when Facebook terminated my advertising account with no explanation and no opportunity for appeal (eight months later, I still don't have the ability to advertise or even boost posts on FB). I wailed and gnashed my teeth through Amazon rank-stripping my biggest selling title for more than a month, because I was suspected of click-farming. I've tried going wide, then back in KU. I've tried changing covers, blurbs, categories, keywords.
Now I've pulled my catalogue and am trying to start over. I'm not throwing out books, but will repackage and position them better with multiple vendors. I have some relaunches coming up, and my next new novel comes out in July. I have new titles planned for every month of the rest of 2018.
But every day I wonder if I can make it to the next month. The next book. The next newsletter. If there's any point. If I should give up.
Because I'm failing.
If agents and editors are still the gatekeepers in traditional publishing that vet a writer's work, then in some ways royalties are what vet authors in the indie world. But, as I said before, it's not a meritocracy. I can write a great book, that will make you laugh and cry and fan yourself, but it makes less than what I paid a babysitter to help with my kids while I wrote it.
I still want this to be a career. Because it's taking far too much out of me for it to be simply a hobby.
I want to work all the time. I'm constantly distracted. I dread family vacations because I know I won't be able to be on my computer all day. I beat myself up every day that I don't make a word count goal (which is almost every day, anyhow). I feel so much pressure, and I'm not sure where it's coming from.
My husband has been amazingly supportive of all this--the time, the money, the distraction. In the beginning I wrote because it was fun. It's still fun. But dammit, I want some freaking validation at some point. I would love to know that if something went wrong, I could still feed my children by writing.
I've been told that maybe I don't want it badly enough. If I did, then I would be willing to ignore my family and sleep two hours a night and rack up credit card debt for advertising. Anything to make it work.
But where do you draw the line between the need for professional validation and your own health, well-being and integrity? What is the point of no return?
What if this is the only thing I'm good at, yet will never succeed at?
At what point does dogged determination become delusional?
When does self-confidence become narcissism?
I don't know the answers. Some people say "fake it until you make it," but I don't like being disingenuous.
So why am I posting this? Because I want others to know that they're not alone if they feel like this. Dear god, you're not alone.
I'm posting this to make myself accountable for my actions, to force myself to be that 1% that pushes past the breaking point.
And because now I've made my word count goal for the day. So there's that.