Sometimes I look at the things I’m avoiding, like using any of the increasingly-large offers for free AdWords advertising I keep receiving, and wonder whether I’m afraid of success. Literally, I do not advertise my books or art through any traditional means. I don’t think it’s because I’m afraid of success. I think it may be because I’m afraid of business.
I don’t like the parts of running a small business that are the business side of things. Accounting/bookkeeping, paperwork, taxes, marketing, even some aspects of customer service. All of which are things which increase in time investment & complexity, the more business I do. With the books side of the business, the side most likely to be able to create working advertising for, the amount of extra work that needs to be done for each book sold seems disproportionate with the amount of income earned, especially in relation to the same ratio re: art sales. But how do you sell my original artwork via a 2-line text ad? What search keywords are going to be coming from people who will like my art and will click on an ad? Books are somewhat easier, though I doubt the word “zombie” comes cheaply…
If I were selling enough paper books directly (I earn 2x to 6x more per book when I sell directly, rather than wholesale, so hitting any $ target is less copies/marketing/et cetera that way) to say with any seriousness that I was making as much or more than I could earn via a traditional publishing company & contract, the time and effort it would take to physically process & ship the orders would nearly be a full time job in itself, leaving little energy left for creation of new works. That is a scary thought. That is what I’m somewhat afraid of: that I’ll be doing so much business that I won’t have time to create.
So, yes, perhaps I’m doing this writing thing “all wrong” and I ought to have gone the “normal” route where I let a publisher take most of the revenue in exchange for doing all the business-side stuff I don’t like, giving up the ability to do the editorial, design, layout, cover design, and web site design aspects of the job that I do like along with them. Except that doesn’t really end up paying much better than what I’m doing now, for most authors, since they’re putting their own money into the publicity efforts I’ve mostly been avoiding… Out of the advances they’ll be lucky to ever earn out. Maybe.
Success, though… For me, it’s more about being able to create. To create what I want to create, when I want to create it. I semi-recently had a conversation with my wife about it, where she (effectively the sole income-earner in our household) questioned the very idea that I ought to be trying to earn any sort of living from my creations. Like, “where did you get that idea?” And I think she was right, and well in tune to what I actually believe & want than my own behaviors and projected beliefs represented.
We’re closer now to a financial situation where we don’t have to worry every month about how we’re going to afford groceries than we were last year, and I’m decreasingly thinking about how to turn my creations into a regular income. I have faith in my work. I believe in the act of creation.
I don’t believe in the value of money, business, the market, or marketing.
And yes, this post is a messy ramble. I wrote it on my iPhone while my iMac was occupied with actual work.