I QUIT – No actually I don’t

Something I came across recently which felt was worth sharing with my two cents:

Last month, an author I’d not spoken to in a while came to mind. She was someone I’d spoken with professionally, we’d read each other’s blogs, and I truly enjoyed her books. I began to wonder if I’d somehow lost another colleague’s posts in the sea of social networking I do every month. (Sadly, it happens.) So, I decided to look her up and find out if she had any new books out.

I couldn’t find her Facebook page or profile.

Her website had been deleted.

Her books were no longer on Amazon.

I started to doubt my recollection. I hadn’t spoken to her in a few months. Did I have her name confused with someone else’s? Had I written her blog address down wrong?

She wrote back the same day. She’d quit writing completely, unpublished her books, let her website expire, and gotten the hell out of Dodge. I was stunned. She was a talented author. She paid for wonderful cover art, gotten professional editing, and went about social networking like a pro. She’d even successfully signed with an agent.

Her reasons for quitting were varied: home issues, time constraints, poor sales, a few unsupportive indie colleagues, a couple of stinging reviews, and feeling like her books didn’t fit into any recognisable niche. She said to me: “It was an experiment, and it failed.”

….

She said thinking about her writing made her literally sick. Ouch.

I felt incredibly sad at her story, but in truth, I understand. Being a writer is hard. Self-publishing is even harder. We indies have to know a bit of everything, be a bit of everything. We rarely take enough time off. We often spend too much time watching the rankings, checking our stats, feeling elated when our books sell, but no matter the number, we secretly feel disappointed we don’t sell more.

….

The full article by India Drummond can be found here.

I’ve been self publishing now for approaching two years, I got aboard really just as the whole self publishing thing began to take off, so I can understand where this comes from but I think it is worth a couple of other points.

One of the problems with writing in general but self publishing in particular is that you are on your own. Starting off you think that means deciding when your work is as good as you can possibly get it, how to release, finding an editor and all the rest of the steps of the creative process. But there is more to it than that.

I spent most of last Sunday and will probably a good chunk of the next working out my tax bill, which is not part of any creative process (no sniggering please) but it is part of self publishing requirements. In effect becoming a self publisher means running a small business with all the complications there of. As I may have mentioned before my own education and employment background is in accounts, something that has been an absolute boon to my writing career. It has allowed me to navigate my own way through the various steps necessary to deal with both the Irish and American Tax Man. Without that background I would likely have to hand over to an accountant and further reduce the profit on my work.

When you consider that the average indie author doesn’t earn much from their work, it isn’t hard to understand how people can burn out, which is a tragedy when it happens. The Indie millionaires are much like the their traditionally published counterparts, the aberrations, for the majority writing is a hard way to earn an honest buck.  The solution at least for me is to keep your expectations real, try to aware of the possible problems before they come up and know when to step back to recharge your batteries.

Regards

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3 Comments

Filed under Self Publishing, Traditional Publishing, Writing

3 responses to “I QUIT – No actually I don’t

  1. It is hard and you should keep writing just for the sake of writing. Not everyone gets to the top, and some do eventually do well after many years. But you have to know why you write. To become a best selling author? To make a ton of money? To be read? Write because you enjoy writing and don’t plan on quitting your day job! I can’t believe the lady quit everything even after signing with an agent.

    • And yet burn out can happen in any field to people who from the external observers point of view are succeeding. Writers I think are particularly vulnerable because we have to spend a lot of time on our own working on it. Which can make is rather too easy to turn in on ourselves. Know when to step away from the keyboard and recharge is all I can suggest.

      • Stepping away is always good, after you leave it for some time you see it differently and can edit it more constructively. Working on something else helps to, and keeps you in practice.

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