Monday, 15 April 2013

Unrealistic Expectations and a Voice of Reason

I never fail to be amazed by the numbers of people who have completely unrealistic expectations when they self-publish a book. 

You know of all those "overnight successes" you've read about? Chances are they put 10 or more years of hard graft into their writing careers BEFORE they became an "overnight success". 

I like to think of it like this. No matter your age, if you changed careers, say from I.T. to insurance underwriting, would you honestly expect to become CEO or COO overnight? Or even just a Director or department head? Hell NO! You would expect to put in years of service, take professional exams where necessary, work hard, do well and slowly get promoted through the ranks. 

Why when it comes to being an author, does this common sense go out of the window? 

Then again, starting a new business is probably more like self publishing than being employed, so say you start a clothes designing business. Would you honestly expect to rival Gucci, Prada, or even Primark, overnight? NO! No matter how talented a dress designer you are, you would expect to build your business and your brand slowly, proving your talent, growing your customer base and maybe one day, you will be a respected brand in the fashion industry. 

You might consider coming up with a business plan and even researching your new business. 

So why does everyone expect to write one book and with little time, research or marketing efforts, become an overnight success? 


In some ways that's a good thing for people like me, because those who are in it for money rather than love, soon realise their mistake and quit trying, but I'm equally sure there are some good writers out there who simply give up too soon. Here's a few facts about my "overnight" success (and as success goes, I'm low on the totem pole. The new JK Rowling, I am not).

1) I have been writing for 21 years, since I was 14

2) I have been self publishing for 3 years 

3) I am still honesty surprised and thrilled that after only 3 (or 21) years, I can support myself doing what I love. 

I don't expect to win awards, I don't expect to get a film or TV deal, I don't expect this to even last (although i very much hope it does and am trying to build on my success). I'm just getting on with writing, reading, researching, and doing my utmost to keep my career going. 

So all you people out there wondering why you only sell one book a week, why you haven't become the new Stephen King, and why no one is recognising your talent, SHUT THE HELL UP, DIAL BACK YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND GET ON WITH THE BUSINESS OF WRITING. 

There is no magic formula  there are no tricks to get more/good reviews, and there are no shortcuts (unless you have a few hundred thou to spend on advertising maybe), so stop asking us what it is

I assume you self published because it is your career, or you would like it to become your career, so start treating this like a business. Don't let the knock backs deter you, continue learning, hone your skills, find ways around the obstacles and don't expect too much too soon. You should be in this for the long haul, so start treating this as your career and be prepared to put the necessary work in, before you start whining that you aren't seeing any reward.

As mentioned, the most frequent thing I'm asked is "How do i sell more books" so I'll be making a part 2 to this post with the few marketing tips i have learned. 

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