First, I’d like to thank everyone who entered the drawing for Have a Bite. I’ve notified the winners privately. Congratulations to them both!
I wanted so much to put their minds at ease and I told them what I could to make them feel better. I didn’t lie. I told them the truth, which is that they need to keep writing and publishing to build up their backlists. And it’s with that backlist that they will build a following.
But while that’s true, it’s very difficult for a newly published writer to maintain a positive outlook when your royalty checks are so tiny that you can’t even buy a pizza with them. It makes it harder to write that next book.
Even more seasoned writers have expressed similar frustrations lately. I’ve experienced this myself at times. I’ve had numerous discussions with different writers on the subject. And here’s the conclusion I came to:
You have to write because you want to.
It’s hardly a new concept. In fact, it’s an age-old mantra that’s been worded in different ways. Write for yourself. Write for the love of the craft. Write to please yourself. Write because it’s in your soul.
But when you start publishing, you get caught up in royalties, marketing, sales charts, Amazon reviews, ratings on Goodreads, and all sorts of things that are all paths to sales and money. And we’re diverted from the path that we first set upon—the one where we write because we love it, because we’re compelled to do it, because it feeds our souls.
Yes, we all want to be published. Yes, we’d all love to be bestsellers. Yes, we’d all squeal with glee at the sight of a nice, big, fat royalty check. It’s disingenuous to say that it’s not something we hope for. But at the end of the day, it’s not why we write. It can’t be. Writing is a notoriously low-paying profession, so it’s not why we started it.
For me, writing was the only way I could express myself, because being very shy and introverted, I had no words to speak. I was socially awkward as a kid (um, still am?), and I could make characters interact in ways that I couldn’t. I was bullied, and I could create characters who embodied everything I wished I was. I could show how intelligent and creative I was, without ever uttering a word, without looking at anyone in the eye. And, from the safety of my anonymity, I could shine.
Ask yourself the questions above. Whatever the answers are, that’s why you write.
Always remember that.