When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn but also execute every day after that. To keep from getting ulcers (jury is still out on that) I told myself that if I could learn one new thing a day, I’d be okay and not get so stressed out that I wanted to quit.
Well, that kind of worked. Ha! But I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way on this blog.
Sh!t I Learned Today: This is a pile of shit
I’m currently reading Chuck Wendig’s 500 Ways To Write Harder. It’s anything but a typical “How To” book, and I LOVE it. He also cusses a lot, which makes my inner sailor happy. I was reading along in the book, laughing and knowingly nodding my head, when I came across one little sentence that stopped me cold.
“Cream floats in a cup of coffee but this is a pile of shit and it’s easy to get buried underneath it.”
To give you some background, Mr. Wendig was talking about self-publishing and how to market your book. In this section, he basically explained that being unique and standing out amongst the horde of other self-published authors is the key to success.
It’s also like…the hardest part of the process. SURPRISE! I didn’t learn this until, like, this month. This ain’t peaches and roses and mimosas in the morning, folks.
It kinda sucks actually.
But see, I didn’t know this part in the beginning. I always thought if I wrote a good book, had a great cover, and spent a ton of money on editing that my book would eventually rise to the top, like cream. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but I figured I’d give it a year. Tops.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
So anyway back to Mr. Wendig’s book. This part about being buried really caught my attention, because that’s exactly how I feel. And when I say buried under a pile of shit, I don’t mean self published books are shit. Cause that’s just ignorant. I’m talking about the bad books AND especially the good books. It doesn’t matter if it’s Hugh freaking Howey or Bobby Sue down the road who just published her memoir; their books are still burying your books.
So I struggle A LOT with this feeling. I’m about to publish my third book, and I like to believe I’ve done okay for a brand new author (published my first book in January of this year). I say ‘okay’ because I sell some books and I’m not relegated to complete, black void type obscurity, which is success in my limited and biased opinion.
I realize now that my hope of rising to the top on merit alone was pretty naïve. I feel like I spend more time trying to be funny and cool on Facebook or Twitter than I do actually writing. I hate participating in what I like to call the Facebook Game of takeovers and giveaways and release events and all that madness of competition and the resulting drama. I love connecting with my fans and giving them opportunities to win stuff, but Facebook is inundated with tons of other authors trying to do the same thing. There’s no way to be unique doing that. You get buried. I’m buried.
And it’s expensive. Really, really, stupid expensive.
So while it was a tough lesson, I recently realized this isn’t the kind of industry where you can keep your head down, plod along, and eventually one day make it. It’s like freaking Jurassic Park out there. You’ve got a T-Rex on one side and a flippin’ velociraptor on the other. It’s running and screaming and ducking and dodging. You get nipped and cut and bit at. All while trying to write a freaking masterpiece that you pray might actually pay for its editing (still haven’t accomplished that yet).
I don’t know how I made a dinosaur metaphor out all this. Weird.
Well, now I know it’s all just a pile of shit that’s constantly being dumped on our heads. Don’t be as naïve as I was if you’re about to publish your first book. Be smart about the process. Educate yourself. And work like a snarling, extinct reptile is chasing your ass.