I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Saturday, December 20, 2014
The Audiobook Adventure Part Five--That Said. . .
With the pending release of Shannon's Daughter on audiobook, I have yet one more reports page to watch anxiously for signs of life. Right now on ACX there is a row of lovely, egg-shaped 0's, just waiting for that first miraculous sale. I'm reminded of my first KDP sales, which were so miraculous they sent me straight back to the keyboard, inspired to write more. With each additional title came an additional line on the report, which each month was filled in with a number, often not a very large number, but nonetheless a number representing readers who purchased a book. A book I wrote. To read. Wow!
That's what it should be about--readers--or I suppose listeners in this case. But with a reports page, it also becomes about numbers and the money those numbers represent. I subscribe to a simple life, that road less traveled, the one where things take a back seat to the joys of life well lived shared with people well loved. But I still have bills to pay, even if they're just for the basics. Frankly, there's never too much money, sometimes there's not quite enough. So yes, the dollars matter too. They help make life a little better. I don't deny that. The line between the joy of creating and the need to sell can get really blurry at times.
Back in the 1970's, when I started college and knew much more about life than I do now, I was sure I wanted to write. I had the bright-eyed, youthful expectation that if I wrote well enough, often enough, I would someday find someone who would pay me for something I'd written. In the meantime, I took on a husband, children, a home and an increasingly complicated life. In between, I wrote. Nothing particularly worthy, but it was the weaving of characters and plots, the escape of storytelling, which I craved. Making a living at writing was never my ambition, although heaven knows a little extra income would have been welcome many times. Still, all I wanted to do was write. Getting published was a vague possibility. Selling books was a mist-filled dream.
Fast forward forty-odd years, and I'm still writing, but with greater urgency. I'm getting older, time is running out, and writing continues to be the thing I want to do. I'm vaguely aware that the publishing industry is rapidly changing. No longer is it essential to find an agent and a publisher before writer reaches reader. When I learned about the possibilities of self-publishing, that route seemed ideal for someone like me. I'm not out to earn a living, accolades, or even recognition as a professional author. If something I've written is considered worth a reader's time and they gain enjoyment from it, what is there to lose in putting it out there for them to read?
Sadly, that question leads back to the desire (need) for compensation versus the value of creativity for creativity's sake. I don't presume to speak for anyone but myself. This journey is unique to each individual writer. For me, it's the writing, not the money, the readers, not the sales. Not that I don't welcome that payment, large or small, each month from the sale of my books. But if that payment becomes my sole impetus for writing, I'll count myself a failure at this endeavor. If I lose the thrill of seeing words fill pages, seeing characters come to life and plots unfold, because I'm concerned about how much or how little money I'm earning, then I've lost sight of my purpose. If I lose the sense of wonder each time I hear from a reader, I might as well pack it in.
That said, with the production and release of Shannon's Daughter, the Audiobook, there's something else to think about, someone else actually. Matthew Lloyd Davies did such a marvelous job of bringing this story to life because he's a talented professional. Thankfully, Amazon paid him something up front through their stipend program but now his further compensation depends on how the audiobook sells--which to a large degree depends on how well I promote it. I owe it to Matt to push this as hard as I can. I owe it to him to find an audience, to rack up those numbers and thereby increase his opportunities. If I anxiously watch my reports pages now, I can imagine what the next few months will be like!
But all I can do is my best. I've learned a good bit about promotion, but I know there's so much more to learn, and then there's no guarantee the word will travel as fast and far as I want it to. But now that I think about it, looking back to where this all began when I put Hearts Unfold out almost three years ago, guarantees aren't what I need. I need a miracle!
And that said, if I've learned anything from this journey it's that miracles do happen. They're called readers, and they happen one by one by one.