Sunday, I had a run-in with another author over on Facebook. (It was in the Writers of Mass Distraction Facebook group, but don’t bother looking for it. The thread ceased to exist shortly after the surly fellow departed from the group. I knew he started it to get attention, and I decided he wasn’t going to get any. At least not at WMD. What he does elsewhere is not my concern.)
I confess, I am sometimes a hit-and-run commenter. I’ll scan the posts, making a few casual comments without giving them much thought. This fellow’s post seemed to be designed for one purpose: to get fellow group members to buy his books. That’s fine, but taking pot shots at God to sell books is pretty lame. I gave the post a less thoughtful response than some of my fellow group members did. I thought the guy was a jerk. I still do.
He had a surprisingly extreme response which, to make a long story short, resulted in his departure from the group. Okay, so I edited my comment–according to him, after he responded. I don’t know. Maybe I did. I didn’t notice. I didn’t really care. I’ve posted responses to comments many times, only to find another member’s comment had come in before mine, completely changing the way mine sounded. It happens. I didn’t throw a hissy fit and go on and on about it, the way he did. It’s not a big deal–but obviously, it was to him. Why? Did he pick up on the fact that I wasn’t giving him much thought?
Another group member later told me later that he had been lamenting his lack of success elsewhere on the site. That explained his crankiness, as did an email from still another group member who recalled his bad attitude the day before, noting that he rarely interacted with the group anyway, only posting to push his books. I don’t recall seeing him there. I knew he was a member, but yesterday was the first time we actually crossed paths.
I am not familiar with this author’s work. I’ve never read any of his books, not even samples. I know nothing of his talents. I have, however, read a few five-star reviews of his work on a review blog I used to follow. The reviewer obviously thinks he’s good. His books sound a bit too quirky for my taste, but that’s just me.
There are any number of reasons why an author might not be succeeding, even if they’re talented writers with well-written books to offer. The website Author Media offers some possibilities and potential solutions. My friend and fellow author Mike Saxton points out that a large number of self-published authors make the mistake of marketing their books to other authors rather than to readers. Everyone has the same objective: to sell books, not to buy them. I’ll buy books from authors who are personal friends, and I’ll buy anything else in genres I enjoy–but be realistic. Nobody buys everyone’s books, nor should it be expected.
I definitely would not buy a book from an author with such a bad attitude.
We all have our ups and downs; we don’t all take our down times out on whoever happens to cross our paths. If we’re to survive in this crazy business, we develop thick hides, we learn to roll with the punches, and we accept the realities of it. Self-publishing is not a career for anyone seeking overnight success. The fact remains that most authors–whether traditionally-published or self-published–have to keep their day jobs. Most don’t earn enough to write full-time. I believe the estimate, when I was starting out, was 10%. And that’s a pretty generous estimate. Furthermore, only a small percentage of those who made a living at it actually became wealthy.
Sometimes, we limit ourselves, our audience by the choices we make. I knew when Collin and I decided to self-publish Chasing the Wind that we were giving up a lot. At a time when most writers couldn’t get one agent, we were fortunate to have multiple agents excited about the book–conditionally. After getting past the “this is a movie, not a book” phase, we found ourselves with another choice to make: possibly removing the spiritual elements of the story to make it more mainstream. Not something I wanted to do. Collin was more receptive at that point. Truth be told, I think he still would be.
One agent, who loved my writing and believed the novel could be a big bestseller, felt it could only work if we took out all the supernatural aspects and made it a sci-fi thriller about genetic engineering. After much debate, we finally decided to self-publish. I would write the book I wanted to write, and accept that it would have a much smaller audience.
No regrets. And no whining.
Check ’em out: