The Semi-Professional Writer’s Dilemma

I’ve written stuff that people have paid money to purchase and read. Does that make me a professional writer? Hardly. But semi-pro? Perhaps. Would I like to consider myself a professional writer? Yes, but I have a long way to go. Why do I keep asking myself questions to which I already know the answers? Uh, I don’t know the answer to that question, which I think refutes the question.

I wish I could report great sales of my award-winning collection of short stories. Sure, there have been sales of that book and a few other stories. But not enough for me to claim I am a professional writer, and it hasn’t generated enough income to keep a housefly in filth for a year. So, with 3 other books in progress, what do I do? Do I finish them with the hope to become a professional writer, or do I write them to enjoy the process of writing them? And for me, there is joy in writing and creating my weird stories.

After spending my professional career in sales & marketing, that should be the easy part for me once a book is written. But that part takes as much time as writing, and it is a lot less fun and interesting for me. It just seems like more sales & marketing work that I’ve done for decades. So, I’ve come to a crossroads in 2023 regarding my writing. Whither goest I?

I have decided to goest back to my sales & marketing bag of tricks. I will make another push in 2023 to promote my award-winning book of short stories. I met a woman at a writer’s local library event from whom I learned a bit about what to do and not to do.

First, I’m going to stop looking for a publisher. She’s been looking for a publisher for literally years to no avail. I gave up/got bored after a couple months. And more difficult than finding a publisher is finding a literary agent, so I’m not even going to attempt that.

There are hybrid publishers who will publish your book if you pay $500 or so. In return, the writer maybe gets 100 copies, and publisher promises to “promote” the book. I had received such an offer from one of those hybrid publishers. That’s not such a bad deal for people with a lot of friends who require inexpensive Christmas gifts. But that’s not me. I’m too busy writing to make that many friends, and there’s also my obvious unlikability factor. However, I like saying that I turned down a publishing deal. My female writing acquaintance told me of multiple cases of books she had self-published languishing in her basement. No thanks. I already have a basement full of crap and dead bodies in freezers.

I think there’s a better way for me to proceed. I already have a book in digital format. It has won an award. I reread some of the stories, and I think they’re pretty good. It is available in digital version on Amazon. The next logical step for me is to get it properly formatted for Amazon’s print-on-demand service. My writing acquaintance said that her experience is that buyers prefer printed copies over digital. Maybe you would like one sitting on your mantle with the pretty original art cover, hmm?

And then, I’ll buy some from Amazon. I’ll give some away to friends (not you!) and those who helped with the book. But I will also send some to people who I consider appropriate and relevant influencers who could help promote the book through social media.

I have other plans, but I don’t want to create a daunting laundry list of things to do. An attainable, short-term goal is to make the book available printable on demand. Just like for those of you considering writing a book, a good first step is to write a dedication to me for inspiring you to start writing.

It can be discouraging at times. Here’s a book that my two younger daughters are giving my oldest daughter for her birthday.

Cute! A book about cats, right? Well, not exactly. Here’s what it looks like inside.

On every stinking page. And the ratings on Amazon?

Sometimes this world just doesn’t make sense to me at all. I was advised by my cousin/godmother/editor when I first started writing not to plan on becoming rich from writing. One can adapt an old joke to writing.

Q: How do you make a million dollars writing a book?

A: Start with two million dollars.

I may not get rich financially from writing my stories, but I feel richer for the experience of having written. However, I am not adverse to financial riches, so buy my book.


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