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.