As I ramp up for another round of edits, I find myself feeling the all-too-familiar sense of being a tad overwhelmed. I’m currently 15K words into The Shadow Within, the follow-up to The Shadow Walker. My hope, as I’ve stated in previous posts, is to have the rough draft finished by the end of October, so I can use NaNoWriMo in November to launch straight into the final book of the trilogy, World of Shadows.
At the same time, I’m still roughly 45% done with the rough draft for Together Alone, the third book in the Only Human on the Block series. I wanted to work on it concurrently with The Shadow Within, but after doing the math, I realized that wasn’t feasible if I wanted to finish in time. So while I’m not actively typing it, I’m still working on the angles of that series, trying to figure out what changes need to be made from the rough draft to the final product, not to mention pondering how to work out the next two books in the series.
Times like this make me question why I’m doing it.
I have a full-time job, one I spend nine to ten hours a day at. Even in my wildest dreams, I can’t foresee myself making enough to self-publish. Even if I did somehow stumble upon a book-turned-goldmine, I’d have a hard time giving up my job. The idea of writing full-time is appealing, but I love my work. The fact I have an hour lunch which allows me to write is a definite bonus. Truthfully, since I started, I bet if I added up all of my royalties and subtracted my expenditures (sending out review copies, etc.), I’d find I’ve broken even. I may have even spent a bit more than I’ve made. My pitch to my wife when I first started was I would keep the costs down. Even now, as I consider doing some book trailers, I’m looking for a way to produce them for a low price and only making more expensive ones if the revenue comes in.
Verdict: $$$…not so much.
This is a fairly easy one to tackle. For starters, I don’t even use my full name when I write (thanks, Steve Madden shoe company). Even my production company, TravEllerZero Productions, has nothing to do with my real name (I considered writing under the pen name of Travis Eller, which I may yet use for some future books). Despite my mother’s insistence, I don’t have an author picture on my books, although that will probably be rectified soon. I think the real telling point is when I talk to people about my books, I find myself getting embarrassed and doing a rather horrible job of promoting them. I personally enjoy them and hope others do as well, of course, but I have a hard time strutting around, declaring myself King Author (even if you and I secretly know it’s true).
How can this even be a possible answer? I wake up way earlier than I need to in order to get some typing done, spend almost every lunch period furiously tapping away at my keyboard and lose my Thursday nights going to writing group. Add to that wracking my brain over how to next promote myself, scouring forums for hints and tips on how to better myself as a writer/promoter, messing with video and photo software to try to create trailers/covers and occasionally taking the time to write a lame post in my blog, and it starts to sound all-consuming. Oh, did I mention I constantly have stories and characters running through my mind at any given moment of any given day? Yeah, I think all-consuming is the correct term.
So how can that be fun?
Well, to be honest, it is. I’m not particularly adept at the promoting side of things, but I’m learning. And yes, the closer to a book release I get, the more stressed out I become. But it’s also exhilarating. Even before publishing, when my books were there simply for my own enjoyment, the sense of accomplishment I felt upon finish a book was unparalleled. Having these self-imposed timeframes ticking over me just expedites the process, forces me to focus instead of goofing off all the time. And I must admit, I am one to goof off. Even now, I have a PS3 loaded with games I’m eager to play, but little to no time to play them. I can always find an excuse to not write, but self-publishing has given me every excuse to write.
Whether I give away a book, or make one sale or one thousand (some day), the feeling is the same. These are no longer just my stories. They’re out there, available for anyone interested. If I can give my readers even a small fraction of the joy I feel while conceptualizing and writing my books and characters, I feel I’ve done my job. Even if it’s not my full-time job and the pay is horrible. To me, the benefits exceed anything I dared hope to dream.
Verdict: Fun FTW!