I just have one question: Why in the holy heck am I not promoting my works of fiction?
Let me back up.
I’ve had a bit of a struggle getting my head back in the game since about mid-January. I wrote about this a bit last time. The holiday season was not particularly overwhelming, really. It was more of just a steady hum of activity across all the many areas of my life–work, family, self-care, etc.
So when everything kind of quit humming, I just… sort of quit humming, too.
I have not had much on my plate in the commercial copywriting realm, and I’ve been trying to figure out where I want to take that side of things. But that’s a ramble for another time. The short version is that I just want to write more books, so I’m trying to figure out how to position myself and find those clients.
But set that aside for a moment, because here’s the thing I really want to talk about…
Promoting My Fiction
I have these books–these two novels, three novellas, and a short story.
And I have more fiction sitting on my hard drive.
Like, a lot more fiction.
Not just the unfinished Taurin Chronicles, but a book and a half in another world, and a half-finished novella about Ian Mac Roy, and various other ideas, snippets, and potential stories.
And as I sit here trying to figure out how to position myself and market my commercial writing services and generate an income writing for other people, it occurs to me…
Why in the holy heck am I NOT PROMOTING MY OWN WORK?
I mean, the beastly things are just sitting there, generating a couple of dollars a month already without any effort from me at all. Why do I not push them a little more? Put myself in front of potential readers in other places? Ask my own threes of fans to promote and share my work?
Several reasons leap to mind…
Anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows about my complicated feelings about my work. I even call myself a “reluctant author.”
Maybe it’s time to just put these feelings in a box somewhere and sing them to sleep.
I put my fiction above a lot of things for a long time, and then I put it all aside for a long time. When I received it back with fear and trembling, I swore it would never again become an idol for me.
I know myself too well to believe that I am immune from idols, but so far, since my crash ended, fiction has not threatened my balance in that way. If anything, I’ve had the opposite problem–I’ve not given it enough space in my life for fear of making it an idol again.
But I think it’s fair to say that I could give it a little more space and not be in any significant danger of creating a new idol.
If It’s Not (Insert Brilliant Author), It’s Crap
I continue to labor under the assumption that if the words came through my fingertips, they are, by definition, crap.
You know what that makes me?
I don’t believe there’s a writer worth his or her salt who doesn’t think that everything he or she writes is shit. There’s almost a kind of acceptance that comes from writing enough shit that you just sort of say, “well, this is as good as it gets, so I guess I publish it.”
But the thing is, I am NOT a shitty writer. I know this intellectually. Even if someone doesn’t like the story, most people acknowledge that I can competently string words together. Feedback on my commercial work has always been complimentary in this area. People may have reasons for not hiring me, including that my particular style or experience isn’t what they want, but I don’t tend to hear that I can’t write.
So what it comes down to is that I don’t believe in the story.
But you know what? I am coming to believe that may not be my call.
The evaluation of the story is up to the reader. And those threes of fans I have? There must be more.
I mean, I’ve read some popular books. If they can find an audience, surely I can find one.
Stealing From Myself
Even now, even when I’ve committed to spending just an hour a day on my fiction, I feel guilty. I have this sensation that I’m robbing myself of actual income.
In some sense, this is true. There is always opportunity cost in the choices we make. If I’m spending time working on fiction, that’s time I’m not spending finding ghostwriting or commercial writing clients and projects.
But on the other hand, writing is writing. If my goal is to make a living as a writer, then does it really matter whether that living comes from fiction or from ghostwriting?
The reason I’ve been focusing on ghostwriting and commercial writing is that there’s a better chance of actually earning money at it. I’m under zero illusions that writing, producing, and promoting my fiction will immediately catapult me to the top of the Amazon bestseller heap.
But on the other hand, if I don’t write, produce, and promote it, it will never have a shot at bringing in any real income.
So if the goal is to just make a living as a writer, why can’t I have several different avenues in which to do that?
I still want to write for other people, and I still intend to pursue those projects.
But I don’t see why I can’t go 50/50 on the type of writing I pursue.
I am fortunate that my husband has a very good job. I have a luxury that many writers don’t have–that is, no one is depending on my income to pay the mortgage, buy food, provide insurance, or purchase transportation.
Not gonna lie. It would be nice to more reliably help my daughter with tuition and pay for some of the extras we like. I mean, personally, I never have enough yarn.
(That’s a lie. I have a lot of yarn.)
But there’s no reason that income has to come 100% from ghostwriting or commercial writing.
I have no reason NOT to promote my own fiction.
So without any expectation of “overnight” success, I hereby state that I am no longer going to treat my own stories as second class citizens.
Fiction is just as important to me as commercial writing. It deserves a place in my writing life just as much as any other project.
This does not mean it will always be top priority. I can envision many scenarios when it will have to take a temporary backseat to bigger, better paying projects or family obligations or even my own creative cycles.
But that also means that there can be times when fiction is in the front seat–the main priority.
And I’m going to feel okay about that.
For now, for this moment when other paying projects are quiet, I intend to give the fiction a bit more space. I’ll keep working on Unquickened, but I’ll also start looking for ways to promote myself and my other published work.
In the meantime, threes of fans… I would love it if you’d share my books with people who might enjoy them. I am forever indebted to you all for your kind support.