I think the moment I realized I really wanted to be an author came when I was about 75% of the way through writing my first novel, and suddenly was hit by the freight train of inspiration and began writing my second novel. Around the same time I put the final polish on my first, I had finished the rough draft of my second, and was actually doing concept work on my third.
It was right then that I could see how this would become a full time job. There’s just that pesky issue of actually getting paid for it. If it wasn’t for that whole making money thing, being an author would be my dream job. But, you know…mortgage payments kind of get in the way of that, especially since novel number one hasn’t even hit the publishing cycle yet.
Trying to figure out the publishing timeframe of novel number one, as well as balancing how to handle editing and marketing costs gave birth to a conversation between myself and my wife, where she actually asked “at what point is writing not worth it?”
I’ve been writing my whole life, essentially, and aggressively writing my first novel over the past few years. It never occurred to me to think that writing might not be “worth it”.
The thrill of an effective chase sequence, or the big reveal in the middle…those small moments make the hours of toiling and tribulation worth it, at least to me. But being an author is much more than an emotional reward, especially if you’re trying to take it seriously. Hiring an editor and paying someone for PR and marketing ain’t cheap. Not by a long shot, and if you’re putting out thousands of dollars per book, but only making hundreds… then, really… it’s not worth it.
I’m still caught on that topic. To me, the joy I’ve been getting from crafting these stories over the past few years is worth the money I’ve spent refining my first book. If it breaks even, I will have considered it a massive success, because, well, I had a lot of joy that didn’t cost me any money. But that feeling won’t likely last forever. I could see a point after five, ten, or even more years where spending countless hours hovered over a keyboard and seeing no financial reward is going to be a weight that is just not possible to overcome.
So what do you do?
Stop editing the work?
Stop the marketing?
Both of those options would result in a less than stellar end product that certainly isn’t going to generate any extra money, and in fact, may even cost more, due to a hit on the reputation.
So where do you draw the line?
Thankfully I haven’t hit that brick wall yet. Novel number one is about two weeks from publishing, and I’m still sitting in my “maybe it’ll be a best seller!” high. Yeah, I get those healthy doses of realism more often than I’d like, but it hasn’t hit me full on yet.
When it does?
I don’t know, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
What do others think? Have you hit that wall yet? Are you just continuing to power through?