I recently (self-)published my first full-length novel—a character driven, science fiction story entitled, Your Truth is Out There. I'm proud of this achievement-not just that I actually finished and published it, but that I really like what I've written.
Now that it's published, the hard, somewhat distasteful work of marketing the book begins—that tedious (and often odious) endeavor whereby I seek to convince others to trade their hard-earned cash for a book that I worked (at least) equally as hard to write. Or so says conventional wisdom. But to be honest, I'm not sure marketing is where I really want to spend the bulk of my time. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to sell a million copies and spend the rest of my life "living the dream," but honestly, how realistic is that? Even if it were to happen, it would probably do so regardless of how much time I spend on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels "pitching" my wares to an audience that consists primarily of friends, family and other authors who are essentially pitching thier books right back to me. Honestly, how many of one another's books can we really afford to buy? I could place ads, but I'm a communications/ad guy in my day job and I understand what a successful ad campaign takes—significant and consistent ad placement. Translation: lots of investment dollars. No thank you.
Then there's this: "I really like what I've written."
To me, this the ultimate takeaway. Yes, I will stalk the Amazon KDP reports for the next several weeks to see if anyone has purchased my book, or read any pages within the Kindle Unlimited program, and when they do, I'll rush over to the book page and see how the sale affected its ranking (oh, to get into the top 100,000, if only for a moment!). Yes, I'll react accordingly when I get a review: I'll be so excited my feet won't touch the ground when it's a positive one, and I'll be equally depressed when the review is not so favorable. And yes, I'll still regularly make the rounds on social media, and perhaps do a few ad buys here and there, but it will all be tempered by the deep-seeded understanding that: "I really like what I've written."
Why is that so important, you ask? Because, regardless of how many copies I sell, ten or ten thousand, if I don't like what I've written—or worse, what I'm writing—then why bother? Why spend my free time squinting at electronic screens of varying shapes and sizes, fingers pecking away at keyboards that suck, all in an effort to tell a story I don't enjoy? Personally, I have better things to do with my time. Ahhhhhh ... but, if I like what I've written, then it doesn't matter what others think of it. If I like what I'm writing, I'm going to enjoy the process, even the difficult frustrating parts (yes, I'm referring to editing!). When it's all said and done, if I like the story and the characters, I will keep going, because that's why I started in the first place. If others want to come along on the journey, we'd love to have you (yes, my characters are real, and they're quite welcoming, too). But should you decide to choose to join another quest, that's okay too—my characters and will be just fine.
If you're a writer, struggling to get that first story down on paper (electronic or otherwise), I would challenge you to examine why you're struggling. Is it a time issue (i.e. not enough of it)? Is it that your idea simply isn't fleshed out far enough? Or is it something deeper? Do you like what you're writing? If you don't, even if you finish, you won't feel as if you've succeeded.