The Dark Side of Writing. Writing is a very solitary activity where you work alone, and you have to rely on yourself to fix, finish, publish and market the book. Even though you get reviews on the books, which are the greatest gift you can give a writer, that’s not really feedback. It’s they liked or hated the book, but it’s not the same as that feedback you get on YouTube or from a peer group.
I’ve found it difficult to really connect or be friends with other authors or artists. I think it’s just more difficult since people are more absorbed in their own work and see friendship as networking instead of a genuine expression of comradery. That or they are just pretentious as fuck and think they are god’s gift to writing because they wrote the first draft that a few of their friends said was genius.
I am a very private person. In real life and online at this point. You know my name, you know what I write on here, you know nothing of my real life beyond I work in a small repair shop. I don’t really talk to anyone except for my dogs and my father. I used to be very social, but as time goes on and I become older, wiser, and unfortunately sicker, I found isolation to be a lot more pleasurable.
I deal with mental health issues like anxiety and imposter syndrome. I have back pain, my left wrist goes numb every day, and I don’t know why; I’m always hurting somewhere, but the doctors never know what to say or do. I’m finally going to specialists to get some injections or something to fix these problems, hopefully. I hope it works out.
That’s what a writer’s life is, though. Hope. You hope the book turns out well. You hope people like it. You hope it sells a million copies. You hope that it will be the next big thing. Then it hits you that nobody really cares, do they?
I read that tweet about how so many traditionally published authors only sold 12 copies of their books. I’ve sold a lot more than that. Not millions, some books didn’t even break 1000, but I always got over the average 200 copies in its lifetime. Even then, it’s such a struggle to get to that number, and there’s just no money in it.
One of the biggest factors in my wanting to quit writing is the money. It’s not about being rich or famous. It’s that writing costs so much fucking money it’s insane. Brandon Sanderson just rose 40 million bucks to publish his new books. Four books in a new series, and he raised 40 million for that.
I don’t understand the use of Kickstarter for books, though. If you want your fans to support you, then they would just buy the books. It’s why I never started a Patreon for my writing. I’d rather you just buy a copy, be happy, and I take that 2-6 dollar royalty and be on my way. That’s why I’m not a multi-millionaire like he is. Because he understands something, I don’t.
The money problem when it comes to writing is that in order to sell books, you have to buy ads, so people know it exists. Ads cost money. A lot of money. For every book I’ve sold, I’ve lost money 5x over. I’ve literally well over five figures on marketing without including the time sink that I’ve put in going on 50+ podcasts and growing my own newsletter. It’s a full-time job for basically no pay.
I honestly would rather just give my books away for free and not do marketing at all. I might start doing that because I’d save money. I might start a Patreon and just hope people will give me a dollar or two because they enjoy the work, because trying to sell them retail is a nightmare. It was too damn expensive. It’s too much guesswork and headache.
I didn’t start writing to get famous, but I also didn’t sign up to go into debt trying to get my work in front of hungry readers. Even if a book sold 10,000+ copies as Second Sight did, I still went into debt at least 3x what I made on those royalties. Even at $9.99, I was losing money on ads.
I’m heavily considering just releasing all my work for free now and starting a patreon or donation link to Paypal. I write because I want to entertain you or make your life better somehow. The problem is Amazon won’t let met put the books up for free. You have to go through kindle unlimited, which sucks. I know people say, “oh well, you still get paid with KU” yeah, you get paid like half a cent per page turn. In a 60-page book, I make maybe 20 cents. In a full novel that’s 400 pages, I’d make maybe 2 dollars. Why bother putting up that wall?
The reason I enjoy YouTube more is that discoverability is a thing on there. It may be a pain in the ass. It may be random because of YouTube’s algorithm. But it is a lot easier to rank on YouTube than it is on Amazon. YouTube gives you a chance to rank and do well. Amazon bases it on sales.
So I get into this vicious loop day in and day out. I pay 5 dollars for ads, maybe sell one copy for 4 dollars, and get two bucks off that. That’s 3 dollars to the negative every day, 365 days a year. Some days I sell nothing and just lose five bucks. Amazon ads are basically just gambling. No matter how good your ad copy or cover is, you are still gambling. Most of the time you will lose.
$3 x 365 is $1,095. I am losing AT BEST $1,095 a year to give you a book. That’s just ads. That doesn’t cover the cost of my editor or cover designer or my mailing service that I have to pay $25 a month for to send you emails that you probably ignore or that go into your spam folder. Or this website which costs me like $100-200 a year alone to keep up. Writing is not cheap. Not if you want to have your book out there and have it sell.
People want stuff for free. My step-sister literally whined to me because she couldn’t get one of my books for free. It was 4 dollars, and she couldn’t afford it somehow when she… I’m stopping right there because family drama is not meant to be online. I’m good. My own family doesn’t buy the shit. They expect it for free. So does everyone else.
Being a “bestselling author,” as I call myself, cost me money. I don’t make money on this. I lose money on this every single day. I made more on YouTube, making fun of Ethan Ralph and pretending to give a shit about internet blood sports drama. Even if it was 5-10 bucks worth of donations that night, at least I made something. If no donations came in, I lost nothing.
The only cost I have with YouTube is time. I bought the editing software already for the book trailers and stuff at work. That was 70 bucks, once. Not yearly. I paid for the upgrades later down the line when I moved to Windows 10, but that was just another 70 bucks. A lot less investment than publishing a single book.
I’ve used Cyberlink Powerdirector since 2014, and no editor has ever come close, in my opinion. It just works right. No, I am not sponsored. I honestly don’t like the whole 365 models they do, either.
The only other equipment cost I incurred was my microphone and stand. Two things I had anyway for band stuff I was doing at the time. So you can add that in as the cost of being a YouTuber if you want. I see it as more than just YouTube.
I think you should be able to buy the software once and be done with it. Not have subscription services. The only exception to that rule is cloud storage because I know how much that costs to keep servers running and keeping your data safe. It’s huge. When I worked at Dell, our power bill for one building was like $25,000. I never complain about OneDrive’s pricing after hearing that.
My point is to be in business; you have to have money to start but also have money coming in to pay the expenses of said business. For example. My tech company is doing great. I’ve been advertising quite a bit on Facebook, and I’m getting a lot more calls. That $5 a day I spend on Facebook nets me 10x that on any client I get. I could spend 1000 bucks on ads, and I guarantee you I will get back 50,000 in accounts receivable. With books, it’s the inverse. Pay 5 dollars, and make 1 dollar if you are lucky.
I know people say, “well, that’s because your book sucks. Nobody wants to read a bad book.” Look at the reviews. Almost universal five stars on every single book. I might have 2 or 3 single-star reviews in the entire catalog. Books are just a hard sell. There is no other way to put it.
Would you rather read one of my books or watch me make fun of stupid videos on YouTube? Obviously, Youtube because it’s easier to consume and FREE. The price of the book isn’t the problem. The cover is not the problem. The editor is not the problem. The reviews aren’t the problem. It’s people who just don’t care. My name isn’t Stephen King, JK Rowling, or Brandon Sanderson, so nobody cares. They will take a free book, which costs me money to give away, by the way, and maybe read it or forget they downloaded it. It sucks being a writer.
The only reason I consider continuing is, like I said. The free model. Write for me, give it away for free, and hope people leave a dollar or two in a tip jar. Don’t even bother with Amazon or Audible anymore. They cost too much.
Let me know if you’d be willing to chip in on that idea of giving all the books away on here and just putting up a tip jar.