I wasn’t going to make one of these posts as I find the idea of new year resolutions, while well meaning, inevitably hollow. They’re generally attacked with a level of effort that’s impossible to maintain and end up being forgotten about until the next year rolls around. However, I was reading J.A.Konrath’s blog post listing his past resolutions the other day and his 2013 resolution caught my attention.
The thing that I have seen, over and over, is people finding success by writing good books.
I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.
Now it may be that I’m just an introvert (like almost every writer ever) but I would much rather spend my time writing rather than marketing, networking, engaging on social media, or any of the other dreaded activities that writers are told are necessary for self publishing. So reading that little paragraph gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Something not unlike the burst of guilty pleasure that comes with profiteroles.
Could it really be possible to go against common belief, focusing almost solely on the actual writing aspect of being a writer, and yet still manage to make a decent living? Well, I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer to that as everyone’s experience is different, but Konrath has made a more than respectable living in the self-publishing business for years, and I would tend to listen to the words of experience over yet another person trading generic ‘How To Use Social Media To Sell Your Book’ guides for views and subscriptions.
I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but I only use it occasionally Facebook? Haven’t been on there in eight months. I witnessed the rise and fall of MySpace. I’ve opted out of Google+ because I saw no benefits. LinkedIn? I can’t even remember my password.
I’ll never do another book tour. I doubt I’ll ever do another official booksigning. I’ve stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email.
Partnering with your publisher? Why would you do that, when they offer so little? 17.5% ebook royalties with them, vs. 70% on your own.
I haven’t blogged or Tweeted in months. I’ve been busy doing what writers should be doing: writing.
And guess what? My sales have remained constant.
So if you’re looking to self publish but hate the thought of having to set aside precious writing time to learn how to be a salesman, then take heart. I’m still firmly in the belief that if you write well and put in the time, then good things will happen. There’s no guarantee that marketing and all that other fluff will help because there’s just too much luck involved. But writing consistently, improving your craft, and putting a library of your content out there for people to discover and read? That’s the thing that’s always going to keep you moving forward.
We all want to believe we’re doing something good for our careers, so we abuse social media, buy ads, rigorously defend our good name, cultivate media contacts, make appearances, and celebrate our own very minor celebrity.
Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That’s the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.
Happy New Year, and have a great year of writing.
Photo by jeff_golden licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.