More Artist than Businessman: Blows to the Brain

This has very little to do with the post

We live in a society where you are judged by how much money you make.

Yeah, that’s a brutal way to start this off, but I don’t really think I’m wrong.  For 5 years, I was a stay-at-home parent while saying my career was author.  That’s 5 years of being asked how much money I make more often than how my son is doing or what my books are about.  Sometimes this question came from the people who were supposed to be the center of my support system.  Call me cynical . . . because you’re probably right.  The whole thing really made me frustrated since I wanted to be judged by what I created instead of the money it made.  You can have the greatest book in the world and fail because you suck at marketing.  You can have the worst book in the world and succeed because you know how to market yourself.  Is this always how it goes?  No, but it does feel like victory goes to the ones who can afford the better marketing.

Over the years, I’ve tried various promotions that are both free and paid.  The free ones don’t do anything these days.  The paid ones aren’t much better.  I’ve seen that there are authors who will dominate a platform until it’s more their personal promo machine instead of something to help multiple authors.  A few years back, I saw a trend where indies would rush to their own corners instead of helping others.  It forced others to do the same because we couldn’t figure out where to find the mutual back-scratching congregations.  Is this underhanded?  No.  It’s actually how business works since the system is designed for competition more than camaraderie.

I’m always told to follow the big name authors and help them promote their books in the hopes that I’ll get a few scraps of attention.  Sorry, but I have so little time for my own stuff that using it for someone else and letting my own projects die doesn’t sound like a good idea.  It isn’t even for a sure thing, but the possibility of attention.  Other suggestions are to write what is popular to get enough money to support my real projects.  Yet, how will the other projects work out if people see you as the author of something different?  I’ve noticed that audiences really don’t follow an author from genre to genre like they used to.  It’s no longer ‘I love this author’, but ‘I love these characters’ or ‘I love these books’.  Once those two things are done, the audience goes off to find something similar.  Then, you have to either cling to the successful series for dear life or accept that you’re about to have a drop in income/respect.  After all, people are judged by the amount of money they make.

This post is becoming a pretty big rant that went off the rails fast.  The reason for this is because I’ve always been more author than businessman.  I really just want to sit around and write my stories then publish them.  Once I get to the business side, I start stumbling because I don’t have the mind for it.  It isn’t even comfort zone.  I just don’t know what to do and I lack the money (there’s that word again) to attempt any of the big things like Amazon promo packages or billboards.  I’m definitely someone who needs a promoter or publicist because my head is too high in the clouds at times.  Ask me to write a scene that pits a caster against three dragons and I’ll pounce on it.  Ask me to do a fun author interview and I’ll jump in.  Ask me to create a business plan . . . Can I go back to the dragons?

I’ve met many authors who are great at the business side of things.  Maybe I could be like that if I had more confidence and time, but those are lacking.  Thought I had it down years ago when opportunities for indie authors were more plentiful.  As soon as things fell apart, I couldn’t hold on and that’s when things went south.  I was judged a lot on the money I wasn’t making and angrily told what I should be doing by people who had no idea what was going on.  Being ordered around by those who are looking in from the outside and ignoring me saying ‘that takes money’ or ‘I tried that already’ made me want to retreat more towards the art.  That’s the person I am.  My writing is where I’m happy and it’s comforting, so that’s where I run to when things are tough.  I don’t go to the business side of things when it gets stressful.  That’s where the horrors are.  I’m actually thinking of deleting that ‘Book Advertising Sites’ page I have here because I don’t think many of those exist any more.  So much has changed and I don’t think it’s for the better if you’re more author/artist than moneymaker.

Anyway, this was a rant that needed to happen.  I’ve been struggling with the balancing act for years.  The judging continues even with me being a TA.  Always asked where I’m going next and when I’ll get my teaching certificate.  It’s like people don’t want you to enjoy the moment and demand that you only look forward.  Isn’t that how people tend to accidentally step in dog shit?  You’re looking up and ahead, but never at where you’re stepping at that moment.  Gross analogy, but it works for me.  Seems like the best way to end it too.

Just found this quote, which is probably controversial.  I see the point though:

Personally, I figure money has to go to both.  Yet, I can see how there’s a sour taste in the mouth if most of the budget goes to advertising than the artists.  It makes one wonder if the artist is talented or simply well-promoted.  We can all think of someone famous who we don’t see as talented, but they’re everywhere.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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50 Responses to More Artist than Businessman: Blows to the Brain

  1. There are people in this world that nothing’s ever good enough for, and you just can’t please, no matter what you do. You could sell enough of your books to be making six figure sums on a regular basis, and it wouldn’t be enough. We all have to deal with at least one person who’s like that to us. It’s just unfortunate for you that you seem to know more of that type of person than the type of person who believes in celebrating every little victory, no matter how small.

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    • I think I’d be able to handle it better if I made six figures. Then, it would be clear that their complaint has no merit. When you’re struggling to make enough to pay for gas or a cellphone bill then the complain feels more real. It increases the weight of what is going on when these are the times a person needs support. Even if you want the artist to quit or alter their path, there are better ways to get the point across. Seems too many people don’t understand that artists have emotions too.

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      • Believe me, I know how hard it is to focus on those small achievements when they don’t give you much beyond personal satisfaction. I know it’s easier said than done, but all you can really do is try to focus more on celebrating those achievements – even if you’re celebrating alone – than listening to those people. In the meantime, keep trying, and hope one day it’s your turn for some time in the best sellers ranks.

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  2. I have to applaud your rant. I have been trying to find the answer to being “discovered.” I attended an on-line seminar this week which held all the promise in the world. The speakers were engaging and had enough book sales to make their story convincing. When the time came I clicked on the “join our organization and your author troubles are going to be over,” button for more information. After jumping through a few questions I was accepted into the inner circle of those who will most likely be famous worldwide. I then came to the cost button. $5000.00 dollars a month to start to become everything I wanted to be. And not for just one month because to become world famous one needed to spend quality time and cash. Oh, and patience is a virtue.

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  3. David Davis says:

    I used to think about making a living writing but eventually I realized what the odds were. The purpose that it serves now is that it is a way to pass the time that has at least an infinitesimal chance of success.

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    • I think a lot of people are falling into that category. Makes me wonder what will happen if people simply stop writing fiction because they don’t think it will work. Feels like I’m always seeing the same names the last couple of years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David Davis says:

        Since people are economically driven to a large extent, there probably will be a slowdown. Ease of self-publication could be slowing the trend, but eventually people who are self-publishing will begin to ask themselves if they are wasting their time.

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      • I think we’re in that period now. If you can’t even cover one of the smaller bills during the month with your royalties then you start to wonder what the hell you’re doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m right there with you. I think I deliver a good product, but without the advertising budget all I have is word of mouth. Blogging doesn’t bring a lot of sales, but is a nice way to keep up with kindred spirits. I like the quote, appreciate your rant, and want you to know you aren’t alone in this matter.

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  5. The problem is that we need money to live. My husband made a list of all the jobs he was interested in at 13, then picked the most lucrative. He does things like game programming, music writing, and buying random citrus plants from the nursery in his free time.

    On the opposite side of things, we know a brilliant guy who always wanted to write. He studied philosophy and writing at college. Now he works entry level jobs when he can.

    This isn’t such a simple diagram as people think, though, because my husband also has excellent health. The guy, not so much.

    Still, still: when you’re in the clouds or writing stories, who is paying for your food? Your house? Your health care? I love writing (obviously) and art. I think we need creation. We cannot live without artists. Yet I also see that people need to be productive in a fair way.

    And I’m more doomsday about the future of writing than you. I worry that people do not read anymore -not like they used to. If they do, it really is the top layer, top promoted, top bribed stuff that is told to them by celebrities.

    Instead of crawling into a hole, surely authors have options. Things to change or improve. Any job requires making something that another will pay for, and writing probably can’t be different if you want people to pay for it.

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    • I see what you’re saying, but doesn’t that also say that society is entirely about making money? We aren’t allowed to do what we love because it gets in the way of making money for survival. What other species has created such a system? We’re supposed to be the smartest species on the planet, but we’ve created survival of the richest instead of trying to make things easier for us. That’s why people judging me by my income, even as a TA, is rather insulting. I’m more than my bank account. What’s the point of having artists then? It takes a lot of work and suffering because most people aren’t able to balance a job, family, and pushing a writing career. That takes promotions and working even harder than other jobs. Throwing in the judging makes things worse. It’s how you stop a person from pursuing what they want to do and put them on a path to a miserable life.

      Now, you mention the health issue between your husband and the other guy. May I state another possibility there? We live in a society where only those with money are able to afford the healthy food and medical treatment needed to be healthy. How is that a good thing, especially since anyone can fall at any point? Anybody can lose a job and then get stuck living off savings until even those run out. This situation seems really cruel and, frankly, makes me think humans could very well be the dumbest species on the planet. We live in a society that allows members to die from preventable situations such as starvation, curable illnesses, and homelessness simply because the people don’t have the right amount of money to live. Maybe if society didn’t judge people by their income, we wouldn’t have these problems either.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I can see where you’re coming from, especially since you are the creative type who has people judging him by his paycheck.

        The real problem I see is creative people wanting to do what they love but also demanding they have all the services of those who make more money. I assume your answer is that those rich people ought to be funding the arts?

        Don’t get me wrong; disparity really bothers me. I certainly believe the very rich are way too rich. If someone has more than one house and a private jet, there’s some unfair distribution there.

        Thing is, we all would like to do what we love. If everyone COULD, though, everyone WOULD. Then where would production be?

        (And, on the health point, yes health care is exorbitant.)

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      • Rich people do support the arts though. At least they used to when they acted as patrons. It might not be true anymore.

        Production would still be done. I think you have people who enjoy that or their love thing isn’t a creation thing. It’s more consumer than producer. Not to mention machines taking over. That’s changing the system.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. Perhaps we’ve too many artists.

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      • I don’t know. Feels like only the same names and faces turn up. Perhaps we only allow too few and prevent more variety from appearing because of our focus on income.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not the income-maker in our family, so I’m not as affected by it as you. Yes, same names come up. People like what they’re familiar with and marketers know that. That’s why you see crap like Unknown Guy WITH Michael Crichton.

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      • I remember being told about joining James Patterson’s author pool. The issue I have is that he seems to get the credit. The other author goes unnoticed. That doesn’t really increase the artist poop for consumers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 😀 I was hoping it was a sort of transitionary thing.

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    • Sorry. Just realized I missed the ‘still, still’ paragraph because of the way my phone works. Kind of in a mood too after some stuff. I do really think society is fueled too much by money and it makes the creation of art more difficult. We’re raised to avoid such jobs because they aren’t practical or lucrative.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, they’re not. And if they are, you need to make something someone will buy. :/

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      • But then you run into a saturation issue. If everyone rushes for what sells then the field becomes clogged. At least with art. It doesn’t function like other products because of the emotional addition.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes and no. I am not a social scientist at all, but think the idea of a regular job with some creation works well for those who wish to be artists. No, they don’t get to create all day; no one does.

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      • The problem here is that creation time gets reduced to nil in most situations. A person works 9-5 on top of sleep, shower, eating, commute, and possibly family. That’s daily. Many businesses may close before work is done too. That means weekends are taken by errands and chores. Factor in physical and mental exhaustion then you’re lucky to get any time. Things become worse when the judging appears. It’s simply soul-crushing unless a person gets lucky or says ‘fuck it’ and goes full bore with no scruples.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I feel it. I get it. That’s pretty much the main reason why I’ve stopped working on my WIP. And I don’t work an outside job like most mothers. :/

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      • I actually found adults were more intrusive than my son. It was really strange.

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      • They are a nosy bunch.

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  6. V.M.Sang says:

    Think about it! Who earns the most money? Not the creators of art and literature, not the doctors and nurses who look after our health. Not the dentists who prevent us from losing our teeth. Not the farmers who produce our food, nor people who collect out litter and other waste, not the teachers who educate the next generation. No, it’s the musicians and actors. Those who entertain us! Is this right?
    How many hours (Months, Years?) go into writing a book? Add them up and then look at how much money is being made by sales. People want cheap books not considering the work that goes into producing them. My sales always increase vastly when I’ve got an offer, especially a free one. People don’t think about the work to produce it.
    I fully resonate with your post, Charles.

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  7. Staci Troilo says:

    I don’t have the business brain, either. I wish I had a solution (for all of us), but I don’t. Best I can offer is commiseration. And to tell you you’re not alone.

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  8. Boy, do I feel what you’re saying! I’m always trying to just get the story written and later figure out how to publish it. But then I’m lying in bed and wondering if I did as much as I could have on the promoting end.

    Basically, I’ve had to let go of the idea that I’ll be magically discovered and make millions. That still buys into the proposition that money = success. Honestly, I just reject that. I write for myself and try to market it later. That’s why I call myself “the best writer you’ve never heard of.” Let other people count the dollar signs or the copies sold. I define my own success, and that means finishing the story.

    Charles, it seems like somehow you have to make your own choices about the definition of success and let go of the rest. Keep saying “I don’t care” (quietly, to yourself) to the self-appointed critics and experts.

    And maybe keep a diversion ready. “Hey, did you hear that Kidlet got his next belt in karate?”

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    • The challenge with saying ‘I don’t care’ to the critics is that it isn’t just online. I’ve had to step away from writing and some take any attempt to keep it going as a bad sign.

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      • From various things, I assume it is family declaring this a bad sign. One has wonder why they are so obsessed with you that your joy in your art is a “bad thing.” Maybe you just can’t ever let them bring it up. Always have that other topic ready?

        But I know your therapist is really the one to guide you through this.

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      • Unfortunately, people don’t let the topic get changed. Humans are judged by their income and career path. An artistic one is only praised if it pays the bills. Without that, it’s a hobby or waste of time. That’s the point that these people want to make. Yet,I’m sure they’ll say they always believed in me if I do make it.

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  9. Renee says:

    I love the business side, but I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. I’d be in business for myself regardless of what I was doing.

    I’ve learned, over the years, that marketing yourself successfully has less to do with how much money you pour into advertising and more with how you connect with your audience.

    Authors used to be able to get away with being reclusive, but that doesn’t work anymore. Readers want authors they can connect with on a personal level.

    There is an upside and downside to this. The upside is that once a reader connects with you, they will buy everything you write. Not only that, but they will be more than happy to spread the word.

    The downside is it takes a while to build these kinds of relationships with your readers. Those loyal readers are the hardest to find, but once you do, don’t be afraid to ask them for their help. The want to help you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Connecting is a big part of it. It does run a risk these days with Amazon looking for author friends to block. Goodreads is better there, so that might be a better way to connect. Do you find that blogging helps?

      Like

      • Renee says:

        I think blogging helps more with getting people to download my free books. But I don’t blog as often as I should. I’ve recently put together a blog calendar and blogging more regularly, so I’ll see how it works out.

        Another way I’ve found that has helped me in the past with getting new readers is doing free promo for other authors on my blogs. Most authors end up doing a promo for me as well, exposing me to new readers. I stopped doing that in the last six months because of health reasons (I couldn’t keep up with it) and my downloads have dropped from getting dozens a day to getting maybe one or two. My newsletter signups have dropped dramatically as well. So I have to say, that’s probably my best form of promotion to date. I’ve recently started doing them again if you want to get one for yourself: https://specfictionspot.blogspot.com/p/for-authors.html

        I really enjoy helping out other authors. I’ve made a lot of friends doing it and it’s helped me tons in the long run as well.

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  10. lorraineanne says:

    thanks for sharing! amazing! if you have a chance I would really appreciate if you could check out my music and art blog itd mean a lot!
    https://thehighsnlows.com

    Like

  11. I love to write, I have to write, but I also had to feed an unreliable husband, 2 children, the home help and her hugely extended family, a St Bernard, two cats and a menagerie of furry creatures. Once I ‘fell’ into writing for radio and later TV I wrote and wrote and wrote. When times were a sparse I took on commissions for adverts, mayoral speeches, newspaper inserts, my newspaper column, magazine articles, company reports, speeches for conferences etc etc. In between, I was commissioned by the Big 5 to write two books. I then turned down their next contract as I couldn’t wait for royalties to dribble in. TV paid on 60 or 90 days. It wasn’t until I retired that I was, for the first time, able to write what i wanted to write – books, novels, memoirs. Years of bowing down to CEO’s, banks, frustrated Steven Speilburgs, commissioning editors, agencies et al were at last, left behind. In my day there was no social media – I began my writing career on a typewriter that was missing the letter ‘n’ and before I went freelance full time I got up at 5 am to write before I got the children up for school and went to work as a teacher. I have learned in the last few years ‘not all best-selling books are good’ and ‘not all ‘buried in the millions on Zon are bad’. Yes, it’s all down to money and knowing how to market – but my point is, if you want to write, then do it for money while you have to and if the pension allows, then write from the heart and hope one day you might hit that magic jackpot. Your other observance re the people around you. I gave up smoking 8 months ago, and everyone has made such a fuss of me. If I mention I’ve just published my latest book, they smile, nod and move off.

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  12. Well, here in Richmond, VA. I am working with publisher that market the novels in small book store. In other word, by marketing to the small entrepreneur stores their is a way to market without getting involve with large corporation that does not care about the love for reading. By going back to the basic of networking in your community, you can learn about the need of your community and talk to people directly about getting your book out there.

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    • Very cool. Though, I don’t live in an area with small bookstores.

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      • That is okay. It is more about who you know. Thought working with others, I and others are working to bring the first Graphic Novel and Comic Publisher Company to the Richmond, Va. Sometimes you need to found people with the right passion to start something. However, If you keep having trouble with getting your book marketing, than thought me and other blogger we can do things such as guest blogger to get the word out.

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