Writing is not about the money. Self-publishing is not about royalties.
There. I said it.
Now, before you file me under “get real”—or call out the guys in the white coats—let me say this: Getting paid for what you write is not a bad thing. I like getting paid. Royalties make me feel more like a “real author.” (Whatever that may be, and as sad as that may be.) Someday, said royalties may event amount to enough to help put gluten-free bread on my table and kibble in the dog dishes.
And lest you think I’ve always taken the high road on money, I freely admit to a darned-near (artistically) fatal case of “gonna make me a bundle” early on in the game. Yes, as much as it pains me to admit it, I believed the self-publishing-as-the-road-to-riches hype. Put my books out there, kicked back on the dock, and waited for the Queen Mary to cruise in.
I’m still waiting.
Fortunately, the wait hasn’t been wasted. While peering hopefully at the horizon, I learned what is probably the most important lesson self-publishing had to teach me: It’s not about the money. Actually, I think I knew part of this before I started, but the Gold Bug bit me and I forgot. So, in case you’ve forgotten, too—or maybe never figured it out to begin with ….
“I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.”
That’s the part I already knew but forgot. Writing is about relationships—the intimate meeting of hearts and minds. When I write, I invite the reader to join his/her imagination with mine. (Think Vulcan Mind Meld, only a lot less creepy.) Together, we can open portals to new worlds and fantastic adventures. Go it alone, and I’m just talking to myself on paper.
The part of the lesson that caught me by surprise is this: Self-publishing is also about relationships.
Well, it’s like this: I never connected with as many kind, helpful people in my life, as I have since going indie. Reader/reviewers. Marketing mentors. Altruistic promoters. Emotional support groups. (I was going to say “emotional supporters,” but sounded too much like men’s underwear.) General helper-outers and cheerleaders. You simply would not believe how many terrific folks are out there, waiting to join hands. I mean, hokey smokes, it’s enough to restore your faith in mankind!
So allow this junior senior citizen, this student in the continuing-education school of knocks for those hard of head, offer you a few modicums of advice:
- If you measure social media success by the number of followers you have on Twitter, or the number of likes you have on Facebook, you lose.
- If you live for retweets but stay a stranger to the folks who help you out—forget to banter with them, encourage them, and/or support them—you lose.
- If you’re all about self-promotion and never about paying it forward or lending a helping hand, you lose.
- If you’re so busy courting reviews and counting stars, you don’t have time to toss a few stars into someone else’s galaxy, you lose.
- And if royalties, not relationships, are your yardstick for success, you definitely lose.
“Regardless of whether a relationship brings us joy or sorrow, each relationship gives us the opportunity to grow stronger, nobler, and more compassionate with ourselves and others.” ~Tamela Rich