The real question -- the tough question -- is Why Do You Choose to Publish?
Publishing -- whether you do it yourself or sign on with someone else -- is an enormous endeavor.
This is where I think many of us start to waffle with our answers. Sometimes we’ve never even stopped to consider what we really hope to achieve from publishing our writing.
Change the world?
It Was All A BIG Misunderstanding?
And there are probably other reasons.
There is no wrong reason, by the way. And there’s probably no one single reason. I suspect most of us decide to publish our creative outpourings out of mixed motives. And the reasons change as we go along. When I was eleven I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to be rich and live in a castle by the sea. Nice and simple! :-D
I no longer need to be rich. I just want to earn my living doing what I love and am good at. That’s one reason. I have others.
Money does figure into the decision to publish for most of us, and I think this is where a lot of the anxiety, frustration and dissatisfaction stems from. There’s such a dearth of any real information. We hear tales of fabulous success, especially through indie publishing, but according to one of the recent updates from the Author’s Guild, median earnings for a fulltime author are about 17K.
Now if you’re only bringing home 20K at your day job, going fulltime writing is an easy jump. Being able to work in your pajamas is well worth that hit to the bank account. But if you’re earning 70K…uh oh.
So the money thing. It’s real. It’s an obvious, tangible marker of success. It’s quantifiable. And we all need cold, hard cash to survive now that it's so damned difficult to find a rich, agreeable patron to sponsor us for the next twenty years.
But it’s probably the least important reason for most of us. I mean, if you’re smart enough to write a book and get it published, you’re probably smart enough to earn a decent living in other more secure and lucrative fields.
I don’t have any answers here. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts from writer friends feeling discouraged and/or frustrated. I see a lot of…sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this…
To which I think YES. Yes, that is exactly the question you should and need to ask yourself. Why are you doing this?
And while you're figuring that one out, ask yourself this:
Is what you want realistic and attainable?
Is the cost higher than the reward?
Is this even what you signed on for?
No one can answer those questions for you. But this much I can tell you: what we want changes through the years. And that’s actually a good thing. The kid who wanted to be rich and live in a castle by the sea? I’m not that kid anymore. But the one constant in my life has been the words -- sharing the words is now part of who I am.
Be honest about what you want and what you need -- and pursue that. I guarantee you will be happier for it.