I pay my bills with my hobby. There’s not a whole lot of people who can say that. I know exactly how lucky I am that I can. But luck is only a very small part.
You see, being an author means that I run a small business. Unlike many other indies, I honestly do. I have a publishing company that I keep hopping. I have friends who assist with specific areas. I have contractors who get paid to complete their tasks on time. Typically, writing the book is what holds the whole thing up. Not for me. I write a lot, fast, and intensely – because this is my job.
In one year as a published indie author, I released 8 titles of my own, and two with a fellow author. That’s ten books, twelve months. That basically has my cover designer working on nothing but MY work. My editor is probably sick of my writing ticks, since she sees them almost constantly. Never mind that I’m friendly enough with her to have weekend cookouts and drinks. I call this my literary empire, but it’s not really that easy.
You see, there’s only so many hours in a day. In order to write as much as I do, it means I’m not posting advertisements. I’m not engaging with fellow authors. I’m not hanging out at bookstores, writer workshops, or wattpad. My marketing is all calculated, automated, and preplanned. My interactions with fans are reduced to a bit here and there, because in my opinion, people don’t read books to make friends with the author. They read books for the stories.
The goal is for me to vanish, become one of those things easily taken for granted. But that takes a whole lot more than just doing nothing. If I don’t put the books out there, then no one will magically “discover” them. If I don’t play by the rules, then I won’t gain a fan base to keep me going. If I ignore any of the business aspects of this, I’m going to go broke, and then I won’t have any other option but to let the books wallow on my hard drive for the rest of eternity.
What I’m saying is that this is a business. It’s a fun business, and it’s one I’m passionate about, but I can never ever forget that this endeavor is supposed to be profitable. I have to delve into everything from SEO, ROI, click through rates, etc etc etc. It’s a business, and what I’m selling isn’t the chance to be my friend (although many of my fans are) but to read my stories. That means that above all else, I need to turn out a great produce that people can fall in love with.
And yes, I have an advantage with the insanity of my typing speed. I know this. I hear it on a daily basis. I have an advantage with my husband who full supports what I do and takes care of the “kids” for me. I have the advantage of having no human children who I can’t tell to wait until I’m done with this paragraph like my puppies can. All of these things make a huge difference and make it easier for me to write more, write faster, and write longer in a day. Trust me, I know.
But this is the trade-off. For those who think they will just write a book over the course of ten years (which many people do), finally get it published (happens all the time) and then become rich (ha! hehehahahohohaha. Yeah, no) – well, let me assure you that it takes a lot more work, planning, and preparation. You can’t just say it’s good enough. You have to work at this until it’s as good as you can possibly make it. Not just as good as you can be when you’re in a hurry, as good as it can be right now, or any other crap. You need to be so convinced that this is your best work that you’re honestly ashamed when a typo is found. And they will be. You need to put so much of yourself into your work that your spouse/lover/friends all start to hate it.
That’s what it takes to be good enough. If you aren’t willing to do that, then fine. There’s no reason you can’t be a great author in your spare time. Just give up that idea of ever getting rich, because this isn’t a get rich quick kind of thing. It’s a slave over it until you make it, then shake your head when people talk about your “sudden” success (that takes years to make). This – being a successful author – is a way of life.