by Will Viharo
Let’s face it: if you’re a writer because you want to make money, you may be in the wrong business.
But then again, maybe not. Success stories are out there, and they only happen when someone actually goes for it.
In any case, you need to set your own goals and standards as an author, and then determine whether you’ve achieved them regardless of what others think.
And good luck with that…
For most of society, the way to measure one's success rate in any business is by examining one's profit margins.
If you use this particular yardstick as an indie author, you may just depress yourself to the point where you decide to just throw in the towel.
I’m not saying no writer should shoot for the stars or at least aim for the fences, but the reality is, very few of us will ever reach the stature of an E.L. James or Amanda Hocking, much less a Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. This may sound discouraging, but the odds against random individual success are largely determined by the amount of readers vs. the amount of authors vying for their attention, and while the number of writers seems to be steadily increasing in the marketplace, particularly online, paying customers don’t seem to be growing exponentially. We're all still divvying up the same shrinking pie.
Instead of just giving up on your dreams, maybe you should reset your aspirations and perhaps settle on more realistic objectives. Just stay true to yourself as both an artist and a person, and you won’t have any regrets. Or you shouldn't, anyway.
And keep in mind that making your own mark as a writer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a living, too. If even one reader responds with positive feedback to your work, you’ve hit your target audience right where it matters. And if one person enjoys reading your stuff, that’s a seed that can sprout more appreciative roots in an endless field.
It’s not just a jungle out there. It’s also a garden. Keep planting.
Praying For Rain
Most successful people in any industry will admit that timing and luck played big roles in their achievements, along with aggressive promotion and confidence. These are random factors of fate no one can count on, but you can essentially front load your chances with a body of work that you’re proud of, so if and when your ship finally sails into port, you’ll have plenty of creative cargo to load aboard.
But if you’re still stranded on an isolated island, tossing out bottled rescues notes in the form of your fiction or non-fiction submissions to various presses, don’t give up hope. Not yet.
All anyone can do is their very best. If you’re satisfied you’ve given this writing thing your best shot, then your job is done. Well, it’s never actually done, but you can consider yourself a writer as long as you keep writing. If you make even a penny off your output, then you can also rightfully call yourself a “professional.”
Like I said, the only successful writers are the ones that don’t give up. This in itself is a type of victory. Perhaps not the one that garners accolades from the public, your peers, and critics, but just completing the complex construction of a book or story or article requires a lot of work and talent.
Don’t shortchange yourself by considering yourself a failure due to paltry or even non-existent financial rewards. You may think that’s easy for me to say. It’s not. I am speaking from experience. This blog is not just a pep talk for you and other struggling writers, but for me as well.