I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it a million more damn times. Writing ain’t easy. And when I say that, I don’t mean writing 80,000 words of coherent story. Don’t even get me started on the countless hours of editing. The soul crushingness of beta readers and further editing. Not to mention the sore throat from reading the entire novel out loud.
I suppose it could end there, but after you’ve written and edited a novel, you probably want to sell it, right? And when I say writing ain’t easy, I’m still not talking about the fight to craft the perfect fucking query letter. Is this concise? Does it convey the right tension? Do I include previous works? What if they didn’t sell well? Should I tell the agent about my overwhelming fear of praying mantises (Manti?)?
After that there’s the always smooth sailing of rejections. Form letter after form letter after slightly personalized form letter, the highlight of the rejection process. But hey, even J.K. Rowling got rejected, right? So you keep plugging ahead. Eventually move from agents to small presses. That shouldn’t be as strict and then you find one and discover that you should have been building yours social network months ago.
It goes on and on. The struggle for sales is real. What about this technique? How about this marketing service? There are probably a million different questions and ten million different answers. And every last one of them leads to work. How much work you put in can decide how successful you will be.
A friend sent me something to the extent of this: Only 5% of people start a book. Of them, only 5% finish the first draft. Of those only 5% have the tenacity to stick through edits. 5% through queries and so it goes. On and on. So do you have what it takes to be in the 5% of the 5% of the 5% of the 5% or whatever? Yes, good. Write a novel and sell some goddamn books. If the answer is no, that’s not a bad thing. Maybe you just really enjoy writing books.
To be honest, I’m at a bit of an impasse. I started writing books because I love it. I started selling books because I’m a narcissist who needs constant approval. Now, I’ve got 4 novels out there that, quite frankly, aren’t selling worth a damn. Recently, I’ve signed up with a book marketing badass (C.D. Taylor) and she has given me a ton of instruction (Read: Work) to market myself. If I follow every bit of direction I’ve been giving, I will surely sell more books, but I will also not have any time to write any more books if I follow all of the instructions. Selling books means a lot to me, but so does writing them. I’ve got a decision to make about how hard I’m willing to work to be successful. So do you. Life is all about finding a balance, my friends. Sometimes that comes natural and sometimes you have to work for it, but whatever you do, never assume writing is easy and know that it doesn’t stop as soon as you get words on the page.