Sunday, October 13, 2013

Quitter Quitter

I was on Kindleboards reading about the reaction to my last blog post where I shared my numbers.

During the discussion, someone brought up all the writers who have given up. It reminded me of a blog I wrote back in 2005, called Quitting. It's worth reading. Go do it. You might also want to check out the comments, because I drop a lot of my philosophy about what it takes to succeed. Keep in mind, when I wrote this, I was netting about $25k a year writing.

I realize some may consider that successful, but it wasn't enough to satisfy me. And it's a big part of the reason I kept working my butt off.

I can now earn $25k in two weeks, or sometimes in a single week.

So, has my attitude changed since 2005? Do I think differently now?

I've said for years now that ebooks are forever, and forever is a long time to find your audience. It took me twenty years, from writing that first novel to making good (not great) money.

Are you willing to work for twenty years without pay? Without success (whatever your definition of success is)? Are you willing to keep at it, keep trying, keep learning, keep experimenting, when you may not have anyone to encourage you but your dog?

Did you take my True Grit Quiz back in 2006? A lot of the questions no longer apply to the self-pub revolution, but the theme remains.

I wrote a million words before I made a dime, and another million before I made an average US income. Once I did catch a break, I signed books at 1200 bookstores in 42 states. And my wife still had a fulltime job, and we still made so little we got a tax refund every year. I was on the phone earlier today with a bestselling erotica author, and we were joking about how poor we were (she had ketchup soup for dinner, I lived in a basement apartment and couldn't afford both food and electric heat in the winter and woke up one morning to find my shampoo had frozen in my shower).

Now we're each making an unbelievable amount of money.

Because we didn't know how to quit.

If you can quit, you should. Most of the people in this business do poorly. It's brutal, unfair, and ridiculous. No one can figure it out, because it doesn't make sense.

The odds are against you succeeding. That's because success is an unreproduceable phenomenon. (I keep linking to my blog posts from years ago to prove an important point. Many who have discovered this blog have only begun reading it in the last few years, since I made a name for myself self-publishing. But looking back on what I did before I self-published is like going back in time to see me before I became who I am now, and that provides some pretty powerful insights. I didn't burst onto the scene a ready-made millionaire. Dues were paid. Go and see for yourself.)

If you can quit, quit. Save yourself years of depression, worry, broken dreams, shattered hope, and emotional pain.

Now, if you can't quit, if you're driven, if you refuse to accept anything other than your definition of success, then you have no one to blame but yourself for all the hell you're enduring.

But my money is on you eventually succeeding. Maybe it will take a year. Maybe twenty. Maybe fifty. But if you can't quit, success isn't simply attainable--it's inevitable.

I used to say that there's a word for a writer who never gives up... published.

These days, anyone can publish. It doesn't require hard work, talent, or luck.

But there is still a word for a writer who never gives up... successful.

I'm an overnight success. It just took twenty years for that night to finally come.

How many years are you willing to put in?