I am a writer. Actually, I’m a published author. Wait, I’m a multi-published author. Okay, technically, I’m an award-winning, multi-published, hybrid author.
Don’t be. It isn’t at all what you think. All that big fancy title really means is that I’ve worked my ass off for the last six years to piece together a few books for the world to enjoy. The world, as represented by a few dozen readers. Okay, maybe more, but honestly, so far, not all that many more.
Here’s the reality of that title: I self-published a few books – some good, some better. I entered a few contests; won one (okay, two, if third place counts, which I’m saying it does). I queried a million agents and publishers. Or maybe I queried the same dozen a million times. I’ve lost count.
I discovered twitter and blogging, and then blogs about writing. I participated in a couple of pitch contests and got a few nibbles. Eventually, a couple small and mid-level presses took their chances on me. So now, I’m a hybrid. And multi-published. And award-winning.
And I still work a day job, which has nothing at all to do with the publishing industry. (Although it is connected to my college degree, which, in today’s world, says something.)
I’ll tell you a secret: I’m embarrassed by that fact. I hate that I still have a non-writing-related day job, even though, in truth, I like my job, I’m actually pretty good at it, and I adore my co-workers. In fact, the only thing I don’t like about my job is the commute (and if anyone remotely knows me at all, they know that I hate that commute). So why am I so embarrassed by a job that I profess to enjoy?
Because of the statistics. And the stigma, which, admittedly, may be all in my head. I’m a writer, so there’s a lot of crazy shit in my head. And in that head, I keep hearing the statistic: It takes at least five published books for an author to conceivably make a living at the writing gig.
I have ten published books. Yep. Ten. And two more releasing in December, plus another in the first quarter, 2015.
Does that mean I’m a terrible writer? Good God, I hope not. And truthfully, for all my insecurities, that is not one of them. I believe I’m a decent writer. Maybe even a little better than decent. And if we assume that I’m right (humor me here), then I should be hobnobbing with Janet Evonovich, Katie McAlister, J.D. Robb.
Okay, I know, shooting for the stars here. Although I will point out that it’s kind of in a writer’s nature to shoot for the stars. But anyway…
So what’s the deal? Should I really be embarrassed that I’m still working outside the publishing industry, when I have so much … experience under my belt? Probably not.
There are a lot of reasons why I am where I am in my writing career. Because I’m a masochist, let’s list them:
- Fear. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a writer. When I started college, I was afraid of trying something that wasn’t standard, typical, normal (which is really sort of weird, considering I was pretty damn liberal in college. Oh, and I wrote for the college newspaper. Can we say confused young adult?).
- Time. I know, I know. Make the time. Figure it out. Blah, blah, blah. Trust me, I try every single day. And the reality is: I commute nearly an hour to and from work, five days a week; I work a day job that demands more than forty hours per week; I have two children, a dog, and a husband who (unknowingly) make me feel guilty for not paying them enough attention. Plus, I enjoy gardening and tending to my flowers, and I’m on my neighborhood association board of directors. I have a few friends who like to hang out on occasion, and I enjoy going on vacation once in a while. I’ve lived enough decades that if I do not make the time for daily exercise, I will have to forego my wine, and we all know that isn’t happening. Oh yeah, and I am a raving bitch if I do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Time really is a commodity. I think I have done an amazing job of dedicating as much as I possibly can to my writing career. And yet, it never seems to be enough.
- I haven’t found the readers. Really, this is what it all comes down to. Without readers, no book is fabulous. No matter how fabulous it really is. And by the way, this is not a whiny complaint (unless that encourages you to buy my books, then yes, it absolutely is). This is a fact. I began writing with earnest in 2009. By 2010, I had my (second – remember, back in high school?) revelation that this is what I want to do with my life. I spent the next four years writing. Literally, writing and nothing else. It wasn’t until this year that I figured out, oh duh, I guess I need to actually market these books. Readers don’t look for me. I need to look for them.
I’m sure there are other reasons, but those are the biggies. So yes, I am a writer. Yes, I have published several (a lot of) books. And yes, I still work outside the publishing industry. My dream, of course, is focus wholly and completely on writing. And by focus on writing, I mean blogging, marketing, socializing, and occasionally writing. Because, let’s be honest, writing isn’t just about … writing.
There are other reasons out of your control, too. The bottom has fallen out of the book market thanks to competition and etailers squeezing the rates down to rock-bottom prices.
Novelists are only a part of the creative world that is hurting at the moment. Nearly 95% of the folks I know who have experience in writing (journalism, editing, bloggers, photographers — and we’re talking veterans with 20+ years of solid credentials) have a job outside of the industry, too.
So don’t beat yourself up too badly.
Thanks, Julie :). I appreciate your support! I think we all do. ~Tami
Your will will find a way! Blow some steam, have a good cry, beat the pillows … and get back to writing, because you can’t help but be a writer. 🙂
Ha ha, Danielle! Great advice! And so true! Now, get back to writing 🙂 ~ Tami
You are a wonderful writer! I have read your Resort series and Candy Crush, but I will be reading the others soon. (Have to fill up my writing jar so I can buy more books:) Once others have discovered you they will sell like hot cakes. I don’t know what the answer is to others discovering your work though. Until then I will just keep telling others about your books when they ask for reccommendations.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Awe, Terry, thank you so much <>. I appreciate your comment! And your love for my books. More than you can imagine! ~Tami
Selfishly Im glad you have your day job and you’re a writer. I love your books…but I would miss you and you are good at your job! 🙂
ha ha – aw, thanks, Dawn 🙂
I´m outraged that you still have to have a day job! Because that means that I will have to keep mine even after 1 December. I had hope that with two books I would dominate the world… 😉 You will make it honey, just you wait… 🙂
Sonja – I wish I knew the magic number – I’d certainly make it happen! The reality is with the ease of self-publishing, there are far, far more books available, theoretically for the same amount of readers (give or take). Which means readers have more options, and therefore, we ALL sell less books. At least readers are winning here, right! ~Tami