A lot of authors hope to make it big when they start writing their first book. Can you blame them? Every single person (that I know of) wants to make a living doing what they love. I don’t think most writers expect to become rich and famous, but if they could make a livable income off their writing, they wouldn’t complain. Some writers’ books take off early in their careers while others take a decade or two before they start to see significant royalty payments. Some authors land an agent within a year of writing their first book and make a stable income, while others don’t make much even after being represented. There’s no guarantee how your writing will pan out in the publishing world. You hear indie author success stories and traditional publishing horror stories. So, what is the deal with making it big vs. staying unknown?
When Dreams Meet Reality
I think it’s great to have high hopes and big dreams – I was one of those writers who started writing at age 26 and figured by my mid-30’s I’d be set in my writing career. This was coming from someone who didn’t know much about the book industry – it was simply a blind faith I had in my writing ability and that the people I connected with would buy my books. Once I hit my mid-30’s, I adjusted my dream a little since I realized it might take me a few more years to make a stable income from my books (and a budget to invest in marketing). My sales did start to increase and for a while I could count on enough royalties per month to cover my banking fees.
In this past year, I’ve become more realistic about where my writing will go. Do I believe it’s possible that my books will take off? Sure, I do. All it takes is the right people getting a hold of them at the right time – people who will promote my work and buy all the books I’ve written. I’ve written 14 titles so far, so if someone were to buy them all at full price, I’d make a decent royalty that month. Perhaps being a successful indie author is a blend of good marketing and good luck. But something I’ve realized that’s even more important than making it big is this: Would I even want to make it “big”? What does making it “big” even mean?
When I think about the films and books I’ve enjoyed, 90% of them aren’t the block busters and the best sellers. My favourite films are generally less known – some are even looked down upon by many film snobs (Like The Village and Sucker Punch). My favourite stories have been indie books for the most part. They’re not the books you see in book bloggers’ “Top 10 Most Popular Books of 2021” lists.
My writing is often inspired by those less known stories. I write books that I want to read – and I’ve made peace with the fact that they might not be what the majority of people will enjoy. I write what I love and if it remains a hobby that pays just a little, I’m still happy. Because you can always make money by working at a job – and in many ways, my writing seems to flow better when I have a set work schedule. Having too much down time doesn’t seem to be good for me.
Keeping It Real
Would I be happy if my books did “take off” and I was able to work less hours for another company? Of course. But as it stands now, that’s just a dream (That may manifest in the future). I’m quite happy with where I’m at in life. I have my own place, I live close to nature, I have time to write, there’s people who love me, and I have readers who love my work. I also like the idea of being one of those unknown writers who you stumble upon – the formatting in my print books might not be perfect, maybe the story structure is a bit different from what is desired in the mainstream industry, but that’s the beauty of buying indie – you’re getting something that’s independently made and there’s a lot of love and authenticity with it. I love the fact that my books attract the people who are meant to read them – people looking for a genuine story.
Success Is Personal
I’ve defined success differently over the last couple of years. As long as I’m healthy, go on nature walks, live in my own nice place that’s clutter-free, and write books that a few people love, I’m successful. True success is being content with what you have. If more comes, you’ll be in the mindset to accept it and manage it well (Without becoming greedy and wanting even more). If more doesn’t come, then you’re happy with the success you already have. For me, this mindset means so much more than making it big. As long as I have stories I want to write, I will continue writing. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it inspiring in some way. Until next time, take care and have a lovely day! ❤
I see Facebook posts with very new writers, who probably think that all they have to do is post something and their book will be a success. We both know that is not the case and you have to be extremely lucky to get a book deal.
As I continued to write and work on my craft, I’ve had to redefine what success means to me. It’s something that changes constantly, depending on where I am in my life and what my goals are. For now, like you, I’m happy where I’m at. And being happy and content in my current position is a success to me. Maybe a book deal is coming in the future, but we’ll have to see. Thanks for your wonderful post!
Yes there’s definitely book deals that can be had at any point. I love that you’re happy with where you’re at now! That’s so key to being happy. And you never know when the situation can change, right?
Most inspiring! Your confidence and clarity of perspective is so soothing. It’s a real catch 22 isn’t it? Wondering ‘what if I actually DO make it?🤔
“Scared the lights will turn green, you’ll have to be seen…” -Liz Phair
I’m glad you don’t let movie bullies belittle you! They can be vicious. Sucker punch is awesome. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
Ooh yes that’s one of the best lines in Sucker Punch. 🙂 Love it! And yes, it’s best to let yourself like what you like – movie bullies suck. Haha
Haha right? Like you don’t know if they’ll never take off or if you’re just one more year away before they take off. 😛 I feel like with good marketing, the sales will definitely increase.
If it does, great. The important thing is to continue to write true to your experience, and if YOU are satisfied with what you write, That’s worth everything. You’ve written 14 books? Damn, way to go! You do write beautifully of course.
Thanks for writing this and supporting indie authors! I agree success in writing cannot solely be defined by how much money a publication makes. For me, I feel I have been successful when some one tells me they have enjoyed reading my book.
i really relate to that! Thank you so much for reading. 🙂
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