I have the luxury of being financially able to stay at home to raise our kids. In fact, I recently turned down an offer to return to my old teaching position because the part time didn’t mesh with the kids’ school schedules, and the pay didn’t justify the daycare.
Don’t let my use of the word “luxury” fool you. I have the luxury of choice; many families do not. In some families, both parents must work in order to make ends meet. In some families, a parent must stay home because of their family’s unique needs.
Even with my luxury there’s still plenty of work involved, as well as some creative financial juggling that makes this possible.
A couple of years ago I decided to add to my workload. I decided to get serious about my writing, with the goal of having a career as a published author. Of course what I really wanted was for a major publisher to take my story and run it straight up the bestseller list. However I do have at least my own fair share of common sense, and I knew this was a fairytale.
So I researched what to do. There was no “How To” list; I had to figure it out for myself. I found an agent I liked and read the advice on her agency’s website. I increased my web presence. I decided I would use a pseudonym (my real last name is Fredricksen… Inverness is a city on Loch Ness in Scotland) and started this blog.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I wrote…a lot! Several complete novels and numerous short stories. I nurtured relationships with other writers. I found writing groups to link up with both on the internet and in person. I commented on other blogs. I beta read for other authors. I spent a year proofreading male-male erotica. I discovered ways to interact with potential and existing fans.
All that work, and no monetary compensation.
No, there is not a touch of bitterness there! I’m so very happy… I have one story in an anthology that came out a month ago, and another story in a different anthology coming out next week. I’m gaining followers on a number of social media sites. I have an official published author page at Goodreads. I have three more stories that may be in anthologies in the coming year. I have an editor expressing interest in my WIP. Great and wondrous things are happening!
Every once in a while, I bump into another aspiring writer who asks me for advice. Sometimes, when I start into the “First, establish a web presence…it doesn’t have to be a blog…” they interrupt me and say “No, no, I don’t want to do all that. I just want to skip to the part where I get published.”
If they really do believe the fairytale, no amount of advice is going to help them. They will have to figure it out for themselves.
Through my connections, I receive a lot of solicitations of one kind or another. Some want to help me market my book, some want to facilitate self-publishing (not for me) and of course, other authors want me to buy their books. I do my fair share of solicitations as well; I ask for votes when I have something in a contest, and I want people to read and comment on my blog.
Published authors realize the hard truth that they can not possibly purchase and read every book every one of their peers and friends put out. Some try. Some might even come close. But although there is a noteworthy level of cooperation among writers (I’ve found this especially true in the romance world) we do not expect all of our friends and peers to purchase our work. We love them anyway. We support them in other ways.
I’ve witnessed a few particularly bad examples lately. Google Plus introduced communities (another variation on groups) and one writer I’d never heard of invited me to join the community he created to discuss his books. Several authors in a contest I’d entered, when asked to post “why should I win” actually bashed other authors instead of tooting their own horn.
The winning prize goes to an author who instigated a kickstarter campaign for a scientific project. He has the credentials and intelligence to make this project a huge success. But his campaign consisted mostly of pleading “Why aren’t more friends pledging? What’s wrong with you people!”
Today, he discovered that he did not meet his goal. This was his response:
Today is the 40th anniversary of the last time humans will ever embark on a mission to another world. Never again will astronauts walk on the moon, or venture on to Mars, or any other place. Why? Because you all suck and didn’t get me to my funding goal. It’s your fault the future sucks so much.
Ouch. Bitter grapes are hard to swallow, and difficult to live down. Also, once it’s on the internet, there’s no taking it back.
Then again, maybe you can take it back. Or, at least, you can acknowledge what you did wrong and apologize. A highly successful author recently posted a Mea Culpa on her blog less than a day after she tweeted something bad about a reviewer. It was a brief, sincere, and public apology. That’s what the pros do. They are just as prone to making mistakes as any of us. The pros realize it, admit it, and do something about it.
I’m working. Hard. The reason I’m working so hard is that I want to have a career as a writer. In these early days, it is important to lay the foundation for what I hope to accomplish.
Doing this work does not mean I will be successful.
Not doing this work guarantees I will never succeed.