When I was five, I attended my first guest lecture. Yes, I was a five-year-old guest lecturer at my elementary school, and I blew those mothers out of the water with my epic twists. In fact, they kept inspiring this new event in my honor, seeing the potential of writing on academic performance (little did they know I was actually cheating half of the time). When I was sixteen, I began to write my first book. I called it “Wolves Amongst Sheep,” adding “st” at the end of “among” because I stole the title from a DVD (I sure cheat a lot, huh?). It was later self-published, and I mean before self-publishing existed. I literally went to a Kinko’s and paid them good money to cut 6X9-inch sheets into pieces, and I had them bind them together. Fifty bucks later, I had my first book.
IT NEVER STOPPED
Now, I struggle as a writer. As a content writer, as a content creator, as a blogger, as an author…yet did you not just see the amount of time it took to get to this point? I am far from successful. I am actually well-off, but not to the point where I can say I have “made it.” So what does it mean when I say: “Don’t give up on writing just yet?” It means that it took me almost thirty years to get to a point where I could charge people for me to write for them. I started small, built my way up on the arms of overachievers, and impulsively imposed entropy.
In other words, I never gave up.
When they told me my book was great, I always liked to ask: “What made it great?” Rather, I liked the question: “What would make it greater?” I would take that feedback and aim it back at critics, at thwarters, and at those who found symbolism and mysticism in giving up. Many self-published authors know the rule: “The average self-published book sells 200 copies at best.” You know what? I did not even get to 200. Between all six of my books, I sold maybe a total of 100 copies – total. But I found marketing; I found business; I found new outlets.
I found these new patterns in life.
I became a copywriter by trade, and now I am paid to copywrite. As you can see, there is no one direction you can move in to get your writing noticed. Whether you are trying to self-publish and succeed or if you simply are reading this for some friendly alone time, remember these next words and take them with you through the door every morning (perhaps breaking your office door on the way to it): “Never f**king stop.” Do not give up. If you find it is impossible to sell your book, where else could you fit your writing skills? Do you write a lot of religious cult material that talks about vampires? Well, then see what the market demand is for vampires. Perhaps you can find yourself writing a paid blog position for a local store that sells vampire toys.
If you have a background in something you found easy to do, or something you could consider yourself as an “expert” in, how can you make it “writing?” How can you make it pay? I am not saying give up on publishing; that is not the point. They do not have to sell to be valuable, and by that I mean they can be just as valuable to your future. I would not have landed my position as a guest blogger on multiple sources if I had not asked to write for them. Every time you get spammed via email or some other form of rote communication, return with a script. Ask them (persuade them, rather) to let you write something for them. That may open a doorway.
If you have expertise in a given area, perhaps find a way to incorporate your creative wisdom into their lives. I was a big paintball player, as an example. I sought out paintball teams and asked to write for them as a journalist. Five years after that, I ended up as the main copywriter for their blog. That led to even further resolve, where one of my articles was picked up by a local author and he, too, found it interesting that an author would so submissively work his or her way into the paintball realm simply to prove he could write!
My point is this: don’t give up. Rather, if a variable is not working, find a way to incorporate it somewhere else, rather than moaning about not being able to sell your book. Remember, art is war! There is an old quote from a man who I once met, who said: “Resistance is not futile; humankind is too good. We are going to stand up and get fired up about the real things, the things that matter: creativity and the dynamic human spirit that refuses to submit.” This man said exactly what you need to be hearing right now: creative spark and innovative novelty are the substances behind a successful author. Now find a way to use it elsewhere, and you should be good.