Monday, March 21, 2016

I Write for Twenty

This is another episode of the "Mid-Life Crisis Series"...enjoy!

It seems like most writers are always trying for "more." Once they accomplish one goal, they're moving onto the next one. They want to sell more books, make another bestseller list, get a bigger contract, add more followers onto social media. I actually don't remember the last time I heard an author say, "Gee, I'm super content with my career exactly how it is. It's perfect."

Stop snickering.

Yeah, no one ever says that. As soon as you achieve one level of success, you're already looking at the next level. With barely a breath to enjoy that one shining moment.

I guess this sort of goes with the territory of working in a creative and highly competitive field.

Several things have happened recently that made me appreciate what I have, and not focus so much on what I don't have.

1. I saw a post about hate mail. Some poor author posted a hate email she received from a reader. I guess when you hit the "big time"--and have thousands of readers invested in your books--they can get ornery if things don't go just right...according to them. I've seen plenty of authors talking about hate mail.

Benefit of being small fries: No hate mail. I get very sweet thank-you notes from grannies (just got one this week!). So far--knock on quirky wood--I've only received kind and supportive notes, via email, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. I've received home-made gifts in the mail. I have a small posse of fans, and they are gracious and lovely.

2. Pressure of trad contracts. I've seen this happen repeatedly over the last couple of years, and it's heart-breaking. Newbie authors attain the writer's dream...agent, publisher, contract. But sales are lackluster, and eventually--after a humiliating rocky road--the authors lose their contract. The pressure to sell squashes all creative excitement. Their writing careers are about numbers and money. It's depressing as hell, especially since many of these authors are extremely talented.

Yes, being indie is a huge amount of work and fraught with the unknown. But at least I'm the only one concerned or not with my numbers. It's my choice.

3. Out-of-control fan girls/street teams. I've heard horror stories about crap going on with big reader loops, street teams, fan girl groups. I've also seen review comments that make me think restraining orders are not far off.

My little group of fans are refreshingly normal. We chat about gardens, glass, and Tom Hiddleston. I love my little posse!

4. I wish I could find the link for this, but alas, I cannot. Somewhere on social media I saw a post that said something like...Even if you only have twenty readers, that's fabulous. Don't be disappointed, be thrilled with those twenty.

It can be incredibly frustrating to publish a book and feel like we're floating in a sea of the unknown. Lost at Amazon, swimming in a pool of Stepbrother books and Motorcycle guys.

But I thought about this sentiment for a long time.

What if you only had twenty readers?

Only twenty.

Would you keep writing?

What if they adored your books. What if they sent you sweet thank-you notes and recommended you to their friends.

What if you got comments like this...

"It will be bittersweet [to read your final book]...I don't want the series to end."
"Find some Klaus cousins and write more Klaus books. That is all."
"This series is so unique and interesting...hope there is a way to continue it."
"What she said."
"This was my very first Penny Watson book and turned me into a fan of your quirky, unique stories."
"Loved these books!"
"I freakin' love these books so much."
"I reread your [Klaus books] every Christmas season...they're my favorite Christmas reads."
"I am addicted to Penny Watson's quirky romance stories...shortly after my son was born, my husband gave me an e-reader and the very first book I bought was Sweet Inspiration...On a constant watch for her next release..."

These are comments from eight readers. Lyn, Nanci, Regina, Rita, Kathleen, Stacey, Elizabeth, and Wendy.

Thank you, ladies.

I write for eight.

I write for twenty.

I write for one.

5. I will never make the USA Today bestseller list with this strange, quirky holiday series. I will never make six figures. I won't get a traditional publishing contract for the Klaus Brothers.

But I will make some readers happy.

I will make myself happy...writing something that is old-fashioned, creative, and sweet. Romantic. And one-of-a-kind.

For the first time in a very long while, I am appreciating my small niche. I have a wicked loyal posse of author friends, who are bright and funny and talented. I have a non-trendy, nichey group of books, with older characters, elves, and old-fashioned love stories.

I appreciate my place in this world, and I embrace my uniqueness. And my supportive readers and colleagues and friends.

I Write for Twenty.

All my best,