I got caught up in a big debate with myself this morning. I was arguing with myself about the pros and cons of going through a small press publisher while on my way home when I realized that I was doing two things I loathe to do.
- Doubt myself
- Argue with myself in traffic
When I look at publishing (and writers as a whole), most new writers don’t care about their potential earnings or their preconceived notions are wildly skewed. Most new authors I’ve met are so happy to see their books in print (and I am slightly guilty of this as well) that they’ll ignore their measly royalties or, worse still, not do a lot to pimp out their books beyond their inner circle of friends. Because, you know, those people won’t tell you your book sucks. If they’re southern, they’ll “Bless your heart” about your book.
That’s not a real blessing. Trust me.
The sad fact of the matter is that most writers live and die by their earnings or, wisely, have a second “real” job. Any new author who thinks that an author sits in a cafe somewhere, sipping mochas while working on their laptop is deluded.
I mean really, who can do a lot of serious work in a cafe full-time? High on mochas? While listening to Starbucks muzak?
Precisely. Not even those retro-failure hipsters can pull that off.
Dave Freer (author of a lot of books) posted today about the ramifications of being a writer full-time and how, after 13 years of trying to avoid it, he’s going to have to go back to “real” work. Dave is a better author than I am, and works with a much bigger publishing house as well.
Am I worried? Should I be worried? Yes and no.
First off, I already know that unless I achieve god-like sales (i.e., Scalzi level sales) I’ll never be a full-time writer. Oh, I may write a lot. But full-time, with no other source of income? Not likely.
Secondly, I have low expectations of my abilities. Without name brand (thankfully there aren’t a lot of Jason Cordova’s out there) recognition, I’m just another hack you may be able to find online, whining on his blog about low book sales or whatnot. Oh, I’m not going to come straight out and say I suck at this “writing” thing (I do, btw… knowing this makes me a better writer) but knowing that without a core fan base, my sales are limited to my… inner circle of friends and family.
So here’s the deal: You buy the books, I’ll continue to write them. We all come to an agreement and everyone goes home happy.
And I never have to hear someone say “Bless your heart” when I tell them I’m a writer.