Guest Post by Rich Leder
By now, indie authors, you’re well on your way to a new, you-er you. Dropping 10 pounds. Being nicer to the jerk at work. Going to bed earlier. Calling your mother once a week. Helping out with the laundry. Fixing things around the house. Waking up earlier. Planning more date nights. Paying down some debt. Doing a little vacuuming. Spending more time in the gym. Taking a trip to the coast. Working in the garden, planting roses, and then stopping to smell them.
Wonderful New Year’s resolutions one and all, no doubt, but where are the 2015 Resolutions for Self-Pubbing Writers?
Ah, here they are, five of them:
1. I WILL WRITE FOR A REASON OTHER THAN MONEY
If you’re writing for money, you’re writing for the wrong reason. Statistics are clear on this: most indie writers make small amounts of money or less than small amounts of money. Each year, it gets harder to get noticed by the global community of readers because each year more and more writers self-publish their own books.
Yes, the front end of that last sentence means more marketing is in your future, but the back end is Historically Awesome and means you actually have a future. Self-publishing is the most profound thing to happen to books and readers and writers since the invention of the printing press. Indie writers should rejoice in the freedom and control and privilege and honor of presenting their written work to the world. Nobody can tell you your book is not worthy of public presentation. That is entirely up to you. And that is Historically Awesome. Future, here you come!
Now, that doesn’t mean readers will buy your book. They’ve got to find it first and there’s some mystical marketing metaphysics going on in the global digital bookstore—if you haven’t noticed.
Would it be nice to make money? Absolutely. I’m not giving back my checks; that’s for sure. But I’m not writing to make money. I’m writing because I’m a writer, because I love to make people laugh out loud, because I’ve got funny stories to tell, and now I can share them with everyone on the planet whenever I am ready to do so.
Most writers, me included, can and should make this resolution because we are full-life writers, meaning we have jobs and businesses and concurrent careers we’ve worked hard to build and are proud of. We make money doing those things. We’ve set up our lives so we don’t need to make money self-pubbing our books. That would be sweet, no doubt, but we’re not selling our businesses or quitting our jobs or abandoning our careers because we love those parts of our lives too.
Our businesses, jobs, and careers make it possible for us to support our families, to coach Little League, to go to Girl Scouts, to volunteer at the hospital, to take care of our parents, to live full and meaningful lives…and to write and self-publish our own books.
Money is the icing. Don’t write for the money.
2. I WILL STOP COUNTING MY WORDS
You’ve got to self-publish a boatload of books each year, every year, and that means write many tons of words, say several of my self-publishing heroes, to build up your bookshelf and make yourself more noticeable, more prominent, more important, more popular, more successful…happier.
Yes, that seems to be factually true and also utter nonsense—all at the same second.
Counting words is stressful for some writers, painful for other writers, and paralyzing for still other writers. Not all writers have time to pound out a certain number of words each day. Some writers are nurses and work long shifts and come home beat up. Some are firefighters; some are judges; some sell real estate; some build houses—get the picture? It might take them a day to mentally and emotionally recover before they find their voice again. I think that scenario is true for all kinds of self-pubbing, full-life writers.
And even if the normal wear and tear of living a full life is not an issue, some people are, well, slow writers. They can’t keep the pace day after day. Some writers are only good for one book a year…or every other year.
So what? That’s fabulous.
I’ve got nothing against my self-publishing heroes. They’re my heroes. I admire them and respect them and read their blogs and books. But I don’t want to be them. I’m not trading my life for their lives. I don’t think the way they do it—smashing out hundreds of thousands of words each year—is a recipe for my success. My writing life is part of my already swell full life. And I’m not going to change the rest of my life so I can force out more words than I’m naturally comfortable writing.
Don’t measure the success of your writing life by how many words you write.
3. I WILL WRITE WHAT I LOVE
You know the old saying Write what you know? It’s not true in the sense that it’s not the whole truth. Yes, of course you’ve got to know what you’re writing about to make that world read real.
But the full history of everywhere that has ever existed and everyone that has ever lived and everything that has ever happened in the world for all of time is instantly available on the same small screen upon which you’re reading this resolution.
In a week’s time, you can know a whole hell of a lot about anything. If you do enough research, you can be an honorary expert in whatever topic you choose. You can certainly know enough to write about it convincingly.
Instead, you should resolve to write what you love. If you love romance, then write that. Mystery? Write that. Thrillers, westerns, cookbooks? Write those. Write what you love. If you love what you write and put that love on the page, then somewhere in some market readers will love it too.
And you will feel so good about you’re writing.
4. I WILL READ AND THEN READ SOME MORE
Full-life writers have, well, full lives. Carving out time to write is hard enough for most self-pubbing writers, but they do it. You know what? If that’s you, then you have to find time to read too. Reading other writers is practically as important as writing your own books.
It seems obvious because it is obvious: the more you read, the more well read you are. And the more well read you are, the better-deeper-richer your writing will be. Resolve to read more this year. If finding time is tough because you always have a meeting to attend, then join a local reading group so that becomes the meeting you have to attend.
5. I WILL BLOW MY OWN HORN
Don’t resolve to tell the world your book is the greatest thing since sliced bread. That’s probably obnoxious, likely a turn-off, possibly not true.
Instead, tell everyone you’re a self-pubbing, entrepreneurial writer and that you’ve got a book they might just like. Tell them what your book is about. Let them decide if it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.
The important part of telling the world you’re a self-pubbing, entrepreneurial writer is that you’re also telling yourself you’re a self-pubbing, entrepreneurial writer. The more you say it, the more you’ll believe it’s true. And the more you believe it, the better you’ll feel about your writing and your writing life. And the better you feel, the better you’ll write. What a wonderful cycle to start in 2015.
No matter what happens in 2015, write anyway.
Rich Leder is an author we’ve enjoyed having here before. He has two novels in the McCall & Company series. We’ve reviewed Workman’s Complication here at Lilac Reviews.