For a while there the expectation was that the hardest part about becoming a novelist was the act of writing a quality book. It is indeed a struggle to come up with an original story, captivating characters, place them all on the page, and then try and eliminate as many mistakes as possible.
Even with a large amount of help including beta readers, story edits, line edits, more read through a than thought possible, illustrators, designers, etc. the finished product will likely still hold a few mistakes in that first edition regardless of if the work is self published or published traditionally. Making that book, and especially the words inside, is hard work.
But I no longer feel it is the hardest part. That might have to go through getting eyes on what was written. All the marketing, advertising, cajoling and social media games that are needed to even convince people to take a look at the order page, let alone commit to buying, involves a muscle different from writing.
And with writing, I know I can get there. I have control. But with catching people’s eyes… I don’t know.
And the not knowing makes me obsess and I really only have a few data points to look at. How many people are reading this? How many people are following me there?
Watching these numbers go up and down in a way that almost feels random strikes a chord of paranoia. Am I doing better or worse than I was last year? Can I reach a goal I almost arbitrarily decided on?
Do my numbers mean that I’m basically just pretending? So all the other authors in my circle have better numbers?
It gets far too easy to turn those numbers inward like dagger and use then to attack our dreams.
I try and tell myself that I shouldn’t compare. I’m finding my path. Just relax and do what I can do to move forward. After all, life is full and time is a limitation. Don’t stress about numbers. Just write.
But then, sooner than I like, I’m looking at my own numbers and feeling like a fake.
Normally, I try and end these posts with something more hopeful that lifts my own spirit. And hopefully helps cheer on others. But this struggle with numbers is really a soft spot in my armor. Really, the most positive thing I can say is that if you feel the same, you aren’t the only one.
Let’s do our best to keep writing.
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