I’m sure for many artistic and creative individuals, a recurring New Year’s resolution is to make this the year you finallly write the novel you’ve had floating around the back of your mind for months. For me, it’s the opposite. Now my New Year’s resolution is to stop writing. Parenthetically, let me add I don’t mean stop forever. I don’t know if I could do that if I wanted to.
What I mean is this: I resolve to stop writing novels until the two I’ve already written start taking off. Last year, I self-published two books, The Madness of Art: Short Stories, and more recently A Rapturous Occasion. The Madness of Art: Short Stories I released all the way back in June, and it has barely sold any copies, and most of the sales were from friends I successfully guilt-tripped. Around October, I thought to myself I made a mistake in releasing The Madness of Art: Short Stories, as I read that short story collections in general do not sell well. My next thought was to instead self-publish a full novel, and set to writing it right away. I finished A Rapturous Occasion in six weeks, and had it on sale shortly after Thanksgiving. That too got dismal sales.
I kept waiting for my books to take off, thinking sooner or later people will catch on, and I’ll get a steady stream of sales. Of course, I didn’t expect my books to sell like Harry Potter, but I also didn’t think they would sell as poorly as they did.
Part of me would like to take a “love of the game” attitude, and say it’s not about the money. But making few sales also means few people are reading my work. A lot of lousy things happened while waiting for my dream to materialize. I found I couldn’t find work even at Target or Burger King. Apparently, writing two novels doesn’t look like much on a resume (every interview I have have, that part of my experience is breezed over). Then my girlfriend of three years decided to break up with me after feeling like we weren’t going anywhere.
I should know as well as anyone that the lives of artists are not easy–I did write an entire book about that after all. I just didn’t think it’d be so banal and unrewarding.
On the plus side, I have had some people say that they genuinely like my books. The Portland Book Review Magazine gave The Madness of Art: Short Stories a decent review, and my cousin told me he loved my short story The Scream. Another person I know said he’s having a hard time putting A Rapturous Occasion down. If only I had sold my books to them for $1,000 a piece…
Kind words and encouragement are great, but you can’t make a living from fine sentiments. To write a third book right now would be ridiculous. That’s why I have resolved not to start working on a novel again until my first two start selling. In the meantime, I hope to find employment so I can afford to place real ads for my books out there. Right now, the only ads I have for both of my books are on this site and my other social media sites. It’d be great if I could advertise on Facebook or goodreads.com.
I won’t be turning away from fiction completely. I’m currently in the process of trying to make my own comic. I persist in hoping a comic book will do better. While the book industry is falling apart, comic books have been growing. In libraries, every type of book has gone down in check outs EXCEPT for comics. Plus, I think a lot of people are adverse to sitting down and reading a novel, knowing it will take them several days or weeks or months to complete (although my books really don’t take that long). Comics on the other hand take no longer than 15 minutes to read, and most graphic novels can be finished in an hour. I also live near Portland Oregon where there’s a thriving comics culture.
So that’s 2012 for me: setting aside dreams and turning towards reality.
If you are at all interested in my fiction writing, please check out my Amazon author page where you can find both of my books. I have also made Facebook pages for The Madness of Art: Short Stories and A Rapturous Occasion.
Do you have any writing or art related goals for 2012?