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Writing and Whining

There’s an old joke about a dairy farmer who wins the lottery. When asked what he’s going to do with all the money, he says “probably just keep farming until it’s gone.”


It’s like that in the indie publishing world, forsaking financial security in order to do something you love and are passionate about. While I fiercely support independent publishing and the movement to get out from under the bootheel of the Big Five, that doesn’t make it easy. Agents are fickle. Publishers are fickle. Readers are fickle. If you publish independently, you only have to deal with one of those squirrelly groups.


While some writers like promoting their books (unicorns are real!) most don’t, and anyone can get depressed by a lack of sales. Am there, done that. I bought a class taught by Michael J. Sullivan for Odyssey Writing Workshops which posits the odds of making it are about the same for independent and traditionally published writers. Sullivan defines “making it” as being able to support yourself with your writing. Royalties are much higher in the indie world, and you can publish anything; no one’s going to stop you, but there is a lot more competition and you have to use your own money to promote your work. Hence the joke.


I’m hoping for seed money as a substitute for lottery winnings in order to publish and distribute some books every year. I’m also looking for innovative ways to get books into the hands of readers, since that’s the whole point. There’s a local author in my town who has stood on a street corner and given away copies.


I like this, but it still costs money.


Ultimately, I know I’m not going to make a living writing and publishing books. What keeps me going is the thrill of another person reading what I have written. I want to hold my work out to the world and yell “read this, it will change you.” I want to be a book busker in the subway who will settle for the money in the jar. I want to paint a mural on the side of a building for everyone to see and count myself lucky to avoid a vandalism charge. My art does not lend itself to such distribution, but I won’t need anyone’s permission or approval to put it out there.


At least until I run out of money.

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