Did you feel it – the brief twinge of jealousy? That someone is set for life, lucky beyond their wildest dreams, never to have to worry about a day’s work ever again, and able to indulge in their fantasies for the rest of their lives.
And it’s the same feeling when we read about success in the publishing world. Amanda Hocking got her big fat legacy-publishing deal, J.A.Jonrath is selling ebooks by the proverbial bucket full. Many authors you’ve never even heard of are raking in the cash, living it large, successful in their chosen sphere.
And, despite all out protestations that it’s about the art, about telling the stories, touching people’s lives etc – that’s where we all want to be. Successful, wealthy, and still young enough to enjoy it. Deny it all you want, unless your aim is to give all your royalties to charity, that is why you are doing this.
Of course, these paragons didn’t get there without an awful amount of work and skill. They all went through their cold and lonely times, when doubt could have won, when the need for a proper job could have trumped their hopes. They are there through their grit and determination, their ability to see a hole in the market, their – for want of a better word – balls of steel.
But (we are told) the business model is simple to reproduce – if we are any good – if we can show the same amount of obsession – if we can build a web-presence no-one can ignore. Then, we too could be part of this new wave of publishing, this tsunami of creative commerce. We, the new entrepreneurs of the 21 century.
This greed is present in any commenter who mentions their book in a comment, in the twitter-marketing barrage you get when you follow someone new. Usually with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the effectiveness of a seventeen flyposters all on the same wall.
And then there is epublishing’s own support industry. The services offered the aspiring writer are nearly as numerous as the writers themselves. A whole new income source has opened for graphic designers, freelance editors, multimedia advertising, writing coaches. They are there to support and feed on our desire for success. We are the dreamers, but they do the gruntwork. They get paid by the hour and will probably have a steadier income than any of us ever will.
Unless we win that lottery ticket, of course.
This post was inspired, in part, by my putting my money where my mouth is. I commissioned some cover art for a fantasy book. One that I haven’t even finished writing the draft for . My chosen artist, Ravven, was a delight to work with, is really good at her job, and I now have that cover to stare at whenever I feel like it’s just a big bloody waste of time.
The scary part is that I could just have wasted some money on a book I will never finish. Even if I do publish, I still have to sell X number of copies before I breakeven. I have many other things to do, which will cost me a whole lot more. And every time I spend, I put my breakeven tally that little further away.
Suddenly, I have bought my way into a risky venture, one that may not pay off. One that may fail, languor, die.
Accidentally, for good or ill, I am an entrepreneur. And I stand a far bigger chance than buying a lottery ticket.