Friday, 29 August 2014

Serious about a writing career? Then get comfy...

I was going to write a blog about patience. I was going to start by saying writers need infinite patience because each step of the process requires months of waiting. But I've changed my mind. I've realised that unless you're planning on being a one-hit wonder, then you should NEVER be waiting.
So many of us writers dream of the book that will change our lives. We dream of getting an agent and signing that publishing deal. We dream of the launch and book signings and seeing it in the window display at Waterstones. For many of us the dream stops there; that one book we've poured everything into finally getting published.
Do you know how much money I made in royalties from my first book? I don't know the exact figure, but it certainly wasn't enough to pay more than a month's rent.
But why was I disappointed? My dream had been to get a book published. It had happened, so what was the problem? The problem was in actual fact my dream hadn't been about getting one book published, it had been about earning a living as a full-time writer. In my day dreams, this one little book had been enough.
I've learnt a lot since Shop Girl Diaries came out. I know now that for my actual dream to happen, I can't think in terms of one book. I've got to think about five, six, seven books.
Yesterday I found out the release dates for my new novel, The Temp. I say 'release dates' plural, because it's going to be serialised over 3 weeks, the full version launching on the 23rd October. After my predicted launch date being in August, October sounded like ten million years away. I felt impatient. I was so fed up of waiting.
Waiting for what though?
Did I now think this book was going to change my life? Was I now entertaining the possibility this book was going to generate a frenzy of excitement and sales like the Harry Potter series?
As much as I'd like that, I think I need to manage my expectations here. The reality is having two books published won't be enough to earn a living from writing. I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic. It's not even that bad either, because I don't want to stop writing anyway.  

I'm still going to daydream about hitting the jackpot with The Temp. But if it doesn't sell a million copies, that's fine too, because I'm in this for the long term.  


Amy said...

Really honest post, thanks for sharing! And you're right, we all dream of publishing that one successful book, but in reality that happens so rarely that writers need to be more tenacious. But if you're enjoying it & you can get by, then there's no reason to quit!

Emily Benet said...

Thank you for reading Amy! It had been knocking about in my head and needed to come out :)

Euclides Montes said...

I'm glad you're not just going to hit a "jackpot", Em - that implies luck. I'm very impatient for your payday, though... heaven knows you've worked bloody hard for it!

Emily Benet said...

Thank you Euclides! It's easier to work hard when you love it though! But I must remember to celebrate the stepping stones! Thanks for reading :) X

Creaky door writer said...

Wanting to be a writer is so much about dreaming isn't it? I'm still at the full-time working, dreaming a lot, and working every spare hour that I'm not too exhausted on my 10(hopefully breakthrough!) novel. Your post is helpful as I've heard it should be about achievable goals, not pipe dreams!