Identifying What You’re After
If you want to maintain your status as a profitable writer, or you want to someday achieve that status, then you have to have a solid grasp on what it is you’re after in life. Most of the long-term full-timers that I’ve known haven’t been after fame, becoming a best seller, loads of critical accolades or approval. They’ve been after one thing: A steady, comfortable income from writing.
To make a steady income requires a very different kind of mindset. To get there, you really can’t get caught up in comparing yourself with other writers. That means you can’t waste time and energy comparing book sales or types of freelance clients.
Money Versus Number of Books Sold
As of this moment, I’ve sold more than 17,000 books across several pen names. Bestsellers—those who hit the USA Today and NYT lists, or even the top 25 in the entire Amazon store—can sell that much in a couple of days. Now, if I weren’t such a money-focused person, that might me feel pretty crappy about myself. But the truth of the matter is that I don’t publish books because I want to be in the top 50 of any list. I publish because I want to earn a living. I don’t want to work for Joe Blow, I want to work for me. The fact that I happen to love writing is awesome and, I suspect, makes the whole situation better than it otherwise would be.
You might not realize this, but you can earn a lot of money on books and still sell few enough that you fly completely under the radar. You may earn enough to pay all the bills and never even hit a category bestseller list.
Clients Versus CLIENTS!
I’ve never had the desire to see my name in lights or my byline in the New Yorker. I focus on providing a specialized service to a specific set of clients, whether that means my client is some tiny operation no one’s ever heard of or a Fortune 100. I’m in business, not publicity. During my journey I have had some impressive clients and had my work referenced in the New York Times, on PBS and more. It’s awesome when it happens, but ultimately it made no difference to my bottom line—my bank account balance.
Freelancers can earn great money working just for locally owned businesses in their state. Businesses people in other states will never hear of.
It’s Not About Them—It’s About You
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a bestseller or to write for a major news outlet or magazine. Nothing at all. The point here is that you have to keep sight of your own personal objectives and priorities and not waste time comparing yourself to others or feeling bad that you haven’t achieved some kind of milestone that someone else has.
Each of us is charged with the responsibility of taking control of our writing destiny. To do that, we can’t waste time measuring ourselves up against anyone else. Instead, we need to see how we measure up to our own expectations, priorities and lifestyle requirements.