It is every author's dream to become financially successful from their books that a day job is no longer necessary. I get that. I have spent many a night myself visualizing what it would be like to write full time without worry about how exactly I am going to survive. However, before I became an author, I was both a writer and an avid reader. Storytelling is in my soul, it is in my blood, it is an extremely important part of my identity. I spent most of my career as a self-published author damn near writing for free simply because I love what I do. I love bringing the characters concocted in my mind to life. I love mapping out their personal journeys, their highs and lows, the worlds that they travel through, their special gifts... In my world as an author, I stand proudly in my godhood, for I am a creator.
I am a creator therefore I create.
However, over the last few years, Amazon has created an algorithm in self-publishing that has turned authors and "publishers" (traditional publishing houses are excluded) into mass producing stories or stretching out dead storylines into half written tales with sub par plots for the sake generating sales. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, you do not have to publish a million titles to earn a million dollars. Now, there are quite a few self-published authors who do not fall into the category of "poorly written novels" despite the fact that they have been able to mass produce book after book in a short amount of time. Those authors have specific systems in place that work for them. However, most authors just do not have those same systems or have been able to develop a system that will allow them to successfully streamline their books.
But herein lies the problem: the aforementioned authors and publishers have managed to redefine publishing and create a lesser standard for "good writing". Let's take a look at the definition of the word HUSTLE:
force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction. "they hustled him into the back of a horse-drawn wagon"
informalNORTH AMERICAN obtain by forceful action or persuasion. "the brothers headed to New York to try and hustle a record deal"
NORTH AMERICANinformal engage in prostitution.
NORTH AMERICANinformal a fraud or swindle. "the hustles being used to avoid the draft"
Here is another definition (from Urban Dictionary.com):
"(verb) 1. To strive headstrong and voraciously towards a goal. 2. To seek out and acquire sums of money, preferably large sums, often by unscrupulous means. 3. To prostitute one's self for monetary gain."
The key words in both definitions are FORCE and MONEY. So in other words, storytelling is now an engine, a means of earning quick money and the unspoken underlining truth of this is reflected in the quality of the stories that are being produced. Because Amazon is the largest distributor (at this time) for e-books, most self published authors and "publishers" exclusively utilize this tool for publishing. And let me add that there is nothing wrong with that. However, this in and of itself presented an issue that Amazon had to address: and that is fraud. Certain authors/publishers had figured out how to violate Amazon's rules by manipulating the page reads to increase their personal revenue. These authors/publishers had successfully done this for a lengthy period of time before Amazon eventually figured it out and not only deactivated their accounts but many authors lost their books and the ability use Amazon as a tool for publishing.
See were the "hustle" mentality will lead to?
So again, yes, it is every author's dream to earn financial success from their work. But for me personally, it is not about a quick buck. It is about legacy. Imagine a hundred years from now when I am no longer walking this earth and someone stumbles across my work and falls in love with it. Storytelling, the stories that I tell are snap shots of who I am; of my mind and spirit. My characters are reflections of my perception of the world through my imagination. By approaching publishing through a "hustler's" mindset, not only are you setting yourself up for burn out, each story you write will be quickly digested and spat out and you will find yourself under constant pressure to write. You will find yourself living no differently than the working person living check to check because according to the perspective of some authors, the shelf life of an e-book is short- which in some cases, may be true. However, for those authors whose books sit on the New York Times Bestseller's list, some of them are still earning revenue from ONE book, sometimes for many months or even years later.
If you market your book and yourself as an author correctly and in a way that works for you, putting out a book a month or even two months wont have to be an option.
But hey, who am I? Just a lil old writer who values the art of writing. Hustling is for the streets not books.
Until next time...