Now that I’m sort of writing again, I have one fiction and two non-fiction books in some state of chaotic semi-completion, I’ve taken to looking around some of the writer’s forums that I used to frequent and that’s immediately taken a heavy toll on my enthusiasm for the project.
See, even when I originally went through this in the early 2000s, I knew that I wanted to write but I didn’t want to do any of the other things that are expected of writers today.
As far as I am concerned, and this is nothing I haven’t said before, I produce content. I turn that content over to another company so that they can package and produce and promote and sell that content and send me my cut. If they’re not going to do all of that, why are they getting the lion’s share of the profit? Authors today are expected to do all of the work and get little of the money. They are expected to promote the book from morning until night through social media, they are expected to set up their own bookstore readings, pay their own way to conventions so they can sit on panels for free and pay for the privilege to sit at a table and talk to fans. I don’t want to do any of that.
There’s one thing that I want to get perfectly straight. I am not a promoter. I am a producer. I do not want to promote anything that I do. It’s clear from the fact that I do not go around actively promoting any of my blogs or my podcast or anything else. I find those tasks not only overwhelming, but entirely dull, boring and obnoxious. I want to write. I want to create tales. I want to put them out there for the world to read. I want to make some money for my efforts. I don’t expect a lot, I don’t write for a living and honestly, I’d have to make a ton in order to give up my day job, writing simply cannot compete. I don’t expect to ever be at a Stephen King level, but that might be what it takes to get me to write full time.
Another thing, I don’t want to be a celebrity. I don’t want to be a household word. I don’t want to be recognized walking down the street. I really don’t get an ego boost thinking about my books on the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble. I want my anonymity. I want my privacy. That’s why I don’t want to sign autographs, read books or kiss babies. That’s simply something I haven’t the slightest interest in and I don’t understand the rabid fans who can’t just enjoy the stories without having to cling to the person who writes them. I know a lot of professional authors, many with Hugos and Nebulas, etc. My wife was good friends with someone who won the Writers of the Future award, and has been writing books set in the Les Misérables universe ever since. But I never felt the desire to go hunt down the author after I read a book, as though meeting the person who typed the words made a difference. Most of my author friends I’ve known for years, many of them I read their books, some of them I don’t, and I’m friends with them because of who they are, not what they write. I think people who have to hunt down actors or writers or whatever are more than a little creepy.
Now I’ll be honest, going to shameless self-promotion route could certainly net me more money in the long run. The more people who know about the book, the more people who will potentially buy the book, the more money in my pocket. I get that. I just don’t care. The money just isn’t that important to me. I’m going to write whether I publish it or not. I’ve written all of my life. I haven’t published anything professionally yet. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t, but if I do, it’s not going to be so I can dance through hoops, leap over tall buildings and do things that I simply have no interest in doing.
Surely there must be other authors out there who feel as I do, who don’t need to write to live, who don’t have an ego the need to stroke, who just like to write, have been told that they’re good at it, and might want to put a few things out to see if people enjoy it. Come what may, I’m a writer. I’m not a promoter. I’m going to write and I’m not going to self-promote and if that means I don’t sell many, or any, copies, so be it. The fun is in the writing, not the paycheck.