Yesterday, I decided enough was enough. It’s time to crack on in earnest with writing the next book. I started work on the outline properly last summer, but since then I’ve had so much freelance work to do, plus Christmas, that everything fell by the wayside. I can’t say I’ve been losing sleep over it, because it still feels good to have one book under my belt, but the muse keeps a-calling, and won’t be denied. (Actually, does a muse call? Perhaps that should be a siren, in which case there might be rocks involved. Yikes.)
I’m setting myself a daily target of five hundred words, which, like last time, will be written in bed, eyelids propped open with matchsticks. I have to get up at six o’ clock to go to work most days, so the five hours a night sleep regime will return. Really looking forward to that. However, I’m sure there are plenty of you out there in similar circumstances, with bills to be paid. So we’re all heroes.
I’ve just had a couple of weeks at home, during which time I vowed to sit at the keyboard until smoke started to rise from my searing fingers. It didn’t happen. Life got in the way again – most of it pleasant things – but I also wasted a lot of time fixating over something that I swore I would never do. The ‘c’ word. Writing as a career.
What the hell was I thinking?
When I wrote The Ground Will Catch You I wanted to prove something to myself, and to a few other people. I feel like I’ve achieved that, and judging by the reviews, some other people agree with me. Money was never the motivator. When the words hit the page and I read them back, not once did I think, ‘Wow, this is great stuff, I could sell loads of this.’ I was simply thrilled to be learning my craft, even after my developmental editor pointed out some flaws and I flounced out of the (metaphorical) room, only to slink back in a few months later with a shiny red apple and admit that she was right. It was difficult reconstruction work, painful at times, but rewarding.
And yet, despite what you may hear to the contrary, good reviews do not lead to an explosion of sales, unless you are bizarrely fortunate. And congratulations if you are. So for a while now I’ve been wondering whether I should sign up to KDP Select to take advantage of interest in the new Kindle Unlimited subscription service. (For the uninitiated, signing up to KDP Select requires you to be exclusive, and not have your ebook available elsewhere.) I began to obsess, scouring the internet for evidence, worrying that every single indie author on the planet apart from me had got it right, and were bathing in pink champagne while I was left to rue missed opportunities.
But then I asked around, and confirmed what I already knew: whatever platform you’re on, being a new author is tough, and, most importantly, you have to play the long game if you want success. Most estimates seem to think that you’ll only start to make headway when you’ve got four or five books on the market.
But what is success, anyway? That’s been my dawning realisation this week, something I had momentarily lost sight of. If you publish a book you have, by definition, achieved a lot. Be proud of that. How you want to measure yourself from there is up to you. Maybe you’re going to push hard on social media, work all the marketing angles, do whatever it takes to keep your name visible. Increase your presence, as they say.
And that’s all good. It’s a saturated market, so whatever you can do in that regard would only be beneficial. Unfortunately, just like everything else, it is also hard work, and time-consuming.
If you’re anything like me, you just want to write. However, I don’t intend to pump out books simply to have more on the market, and I’m fully aware that there are many, many indie authors who possess a talent for self-promotion that I simply don’t have. The best I can do is write another book, and then, with any luck, another one, to the best of my ability.
Of course, I shall continue to tweet what I think are interesting and useful things, blog when the mood takes me, and continue to interact with readers and other people’s blogs. That too, is fun. And valuable, I hope. I also have a few offline promotional ideas up my sleeve, so we’ll see how that goes.
But for now it’s back to the grindstone, with my sense of perspective readjusted and intact once more. I have money for food, a roof over my head, and am now simply content to tear out chunks of my hair when a massive plot hole appears; hurl coffee at the walls in demented fury when a scene goes nowhere; and occasionally see things that aren’t actually there because the human brain apparently has some basic requirements when it comes to sleep.