One way or another, for much of my working life I’ve been a dreamer: creative, mostly self-employed, and struggling financially. Probably sounds familiar to many of you. Ever the dreamer, when I began seriously writing with a view to having a series of YA magical realism novels published, it was with my eye firmly set on the vision of walking in the footsteps of Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight Saga. Reality bears no resemblance. Surprised, anyone? Definite Lols here.
For starters, I queried only a few agents, one at a time, with early versions of the first fifteen pages in various states of edit. And got interest from none of them, of course. Book one took me years to finally complete, and the idea of continuing for years more in the querying process was appalling. I studied David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital and was convinced that the future lay not in the excruciating quest for representation, but in taking my destiny into my own hands and joining the ranks of Indie authors.
Which has so far been excruciating. Also sound familiar to anyone? Having been previously self-employed and inclined to enjoy selling my creative output, I assumed navigating my way through the Indie author world would be fairly straightforward and reasonably enjoyable. So far it has been neither.
The world of self-publishing has changed dramatically since the revised version of Let’s Get Digital was released. Maureen Crisp who has a fantastically informative website about all things publishing let me know of David’s new book Strangers to Superfans. Bought it. Haven’t read it. Too exhausted. Still sounding familiar?
The thought of all the work ahead in finding a readership makes me quail. Makes my brain heavy. Makes me feel sad, and wish for the halcyon days of writing this book with my eye firmly set on the fantasy of Writers House taking me away from all of this. But I recently found a spark of light. A practical set of steps that as a fulltime employee in the real world I can relate to and can understand applying to my part-time life as author hoping to be a fulltime author.
One social media platform I have leapt aboard and actually enjoy, is Instagram. Last night the post of @meg_latorre caught my attention. “Why you should treat your passion like a job”. I followed the link to her YouTube podcast and heard eight ways you can treat writing (or other creative passions) like a job. It was practical, doable, and like I say, ties in with the principles us day-job people already live by on the clock. She also repeated a fact my sister encouraged me with just yesterday, of new businesses taking around five years to become established. Maybe three months in is too soon to feel wretched?
Yes, still feeling exhausted, but these are steps I can follow. Number one: Show Up. I can do that! Maybe this isn’t really as hard as it feels? If you are feeling the same way as me, I encourage you to take a look at Meg’s site iwriterly, she does a newsletter as well as podcasts, and when I signed up I got a free copy of ‘how to format your manuscript’ and a newsletter on ‘how to deal with rejection as a writer’.
One thing has been hearteningly clear on this whole journey, and that is the generosity of the Indie authors already out there making it work. So keep your chin up. Cry and take time out if you need to. But don’t give up. If you can make peace with the idea of Authorship as a Business, one that you can grow by tentative steps at your own pace, you won’t be alone. I’ll be inching along there with you. Happy writing all.