Monday, June 16, 2014

One Year In

Purity Taken.
Exactly one year ago, I published my very first ebook, Purity Taken. Incidentally, this is also my 100th post on this blog. Anyway. I allowed myself lofty expectations that I knew were unrealistic, back then. I wrote an awful lot of drivel about writing on this very blog, when I really had little idea what I was doing, and certainly wasn't in a position where I should be advising anyone. Hell, I'm still not in a position now where you should listen to anything I say, really. Other than when I say I've published something new. You should listen to that.

I have learned a lot over this one year, and I know I will continue to learn more. About writing, about self-publishing, and about the ever-changing publishing business. I learned the value of non-shitty covers. (See below)

It feels as if I have been at this far longer than I really have, too. I'm not sure why. I know that it's not unusual to spend many years, decades even, for some writers, without being successful. I suppose I had the hope and dream that I would not be one of those waiting a decade.

I'm not so certain about that one anymore, mainly because I'm not sure what to qualify as success anymore. Making a living as a writer? I can do that right now, thanks to gradually increasing sales and a generous commissioner whom I appreciate very much. Am I successful simply for receiving payment for my work? Obviously I do that. I'm fairly sure Stephen King qualified anyone who got paid for their writing, whether once or multiple times, as a writer. I write what I love, and that's really what matters in the end, I guess. Not the amount of money on my bank account. So I suppose I am a success. I can still be more of a success, though.

The thing is, I have difficulty quantifying a goal. Originally, I wanted to make a living writing when I was
thirty. Here I am, still 3 years away from that, and I'm making a living. What is the goal then? To make more? To write a bestseller? That's out of my control. All I can do is to keep writing and writing. In the end, I don't think there is a goal. Probably just the journey. Keep writing, keep publishing, keep improving, keep living off being an author.

With all that said, though, I love looking at my sales. I'm not sitting in an office handling someone else's crap, no offense to any manure dealers out there, I'm watching something I've crafted myself be bought and (I should hope) enjoyed. There's an entirely different feeling to that than working in an office. Which I did. It was what cemented in my mind that writing was what I had to do in life. But with this, I've had a direct hand in everything sold. I'm at a point where I think I understand the joy of creating more. And it took business to really push that into my mind. Other people are seeing my work and liking it. How awesome is that? Seriously. That's awesome. And Strange.

Of course, it doesn't get any less awesome when you see what has happened after I got my act together again in mid February and started the process that has now seen me release a story or bundle every week since the start of March. You can see the effect it had for yourself, right here:

That graph only counts sales as a number, too. A bundle is worth more than a short, obviously. But still only counts as 1 sale on that graph. As you can see, effort really does equal reward. I think I open that graph almost every day (Even if I only update it once a week) just to kick myself mentally at that long, 6-month break I had with publishing. Where could I have been today if I hadn't had that break? It's difficult to say. And it doesn't help anything to wonder. Still, it makes me a little sad and annoyed. It also makes me lucky, because I have read many authors out there who waited until they were well into their 40s, 50s or 60s with writing. They feel like they've wasted time, too. I'm not even 30.

What does the future hold that'll help me prevent such a 6-month breakdown from happening again? I can't say 100% for sure, of course, but I've already decided that I will keep this 1 short a week schedule up for at least a full year. By next March I should have 50+ works out there, and I should be able to make a real judgment of how I'm doing as an author by then. If I'm making a living (800-1000 sales/month minimum) or on my way to it, sweet. I'll probably keep the 1 story/week stuff up in that case. Probably until the end of 2015, anyway. I want to get into writing novels eventually. Not necessarily erotica novels, either. Fantasy. Under another pen name, of course.

I do know that if it turns out I can't live on writing then, I'll have to move to a place with lower living expenses. Writing is all I can do to live. Which is why I'm doing it. The "Don't write if you can do anything else" adage is probably really a reference to that. Writing for a living isn't "worth it" if you can do anything else. If you can be satisfied doing something else. Me, I can't.

Anyway, let me take stock a little. I've released over 20 stories so far, amounting to almost but not quite 2 a month over this last year. Really, though, I released 4 stories in the first 8 months and the remaining in the last 4. A few bundles and a lot of short stories. I feel like I'm beginning to get a little traction. And I feel like every month, every week's release, brings me a little closer to some immaterial dream of "making it" as an author.

I know I've abolished most of this touchy-feely crap on the blog for a while, now. I don't intend to change that. But since this is a special one-time post, I'll allow myself to delve into it just for a moment. I've had my problems. Everyone does. An up-and-down (No innuendo, now) depression since around the time I was 14, give or take a year. I'm 27 now, and it's still going. Especially now, these last few weeks, I've felt a real downturn. It's the reason I've been quiet. It's the reason why I didn't release anything last week. I don't think the depression will ever go away, though this episode will pass. I've accepted that, in a way, even as I work daily to improve my state of mind and my life. And writing, well, it's cathartic. It's the real reason I do this. It keeps me sane in a way that working in an office never could.

So I guess I want to round this post off by saying that.. I might be in a little trouble right now, but don't worry. I will come back. Writing is what I want and have to do. It's the only thing I -can- do.

I hope to be writing a similar post to you again in another year.

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