Writing used to be little more than a hobby for me. Sure, when I published Paradox back in 2012, I had vague dreams of success. But giving into the mythical “writer’s block” for months at a time and being unstructured, unorganized, and unmotivated to actually dedicate time and energy to my craft was sure to prevent me from achieving even the smallest dreams of literary success.
Over the last year or so, however, my love for the craft has been rekindled. Writing has become so much more than a hobby. It’s become a way for me to share meaningful stories, to write stories that challenge me and change me in deep ways that a lot of mainstream fiction out there just doesn’t do. Writing has once again become one of my deepest passions. And this is a dream that I believe in. I know that I can become a successful author. Of course, success is measured in different ways for different people. Ultimately, success lies in whether or not my story touches people’s hearts. However, a secondary side to success for me would mean being able to write enough books that being an author becomes my primary source of income. After all, people all over the world have managed to figure out how to work their dream jobs. Why not me?
The thing is, I’m not writing this post now from a place of success. As far as my debut YA Contemporary novel, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, goes I’ve had a small measure of success. My sales since its release in November 2018 have been steady and consistent. The reviews coming in from all over the world have been largely positive. My story has been well-received. But I’m still a debut author. Even more, I’m a debut author with a pretty minimal platform. In retrospect, I see things I could’ve done differently to help build my platform in advance of my debut novel. I could’ve blogged more often and more consistently. I could’ve started my author pages earlier than I did. As it is, my Instagram page (@brianmcbrideauthor) is tiptoe-ing toward 500 followers. That’s hardly a mass following. (Help, pls.) So, I’m not writing this post from a place of, “This is what I did to become an Amazon Best-Selling Author and you should follow these steps!” No, I’m writing this from a place of knowing what my dream is and wanting to put in the work to see that dream become a reality. I want to be transparent in that process, because hopefully the highs and lows, ups and downs of working toward your dreams encourages or inspires you.
I’ve done the math. In order to be able to quit my day job as a banker and rely solely on the income of my books, I’d need to sell roughly 15 books a day and these sales would need to be steady. Currently, I’m selling 2-3 books per day on average. This is a far cry from financial viability. However, these numbers are pretty good considering 1)Love and the Sea is my debut novel, 2) I virtually had no platform to speak of when I published it, and 3) I am an independent/self-published author.
I’ve done hours’ worth of research on what it takes to become a successful independent author. Many of the marketing strategies are daunting considering I don’t have a marketing team and have no prior experience. Some of the strategies are simple and I shared about them in a previous post a month-or-so ago. Ultimately, though, I’ve come to realize one thing: it takes consistent, hard work.You have to work it like a business. That means you have to dedicate massive amounts of time to your writing/publishing/marketing. That means ensuring that you constantly have new “products” (i.e. books) being introduced into the world of fiction. That means constant networking. That means talking about it non-stop even when it feels awkward and you feel like you’re wasting peoples’ time or bothering them.
Dreams don’t come true by accident. Success takes hard work. You have to fight for it. You have to discipline yourself to put the work in even when you aren’t feeling it. It’s hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve decided to take on the impossible task of drafting not one, but two new YA Contemporaries (I’ll be talking about these in the future!) ON TOP OF THAT, I’m also finishing up edits on my sophomore YA Contemporary, Every Bright and Broken Thing. I realize that this is an enormous undertaking, but my goal is to constantly release new content into the never-ending stream of new fiction. One of the biggest things indie pros will tell you is that you should be releasing books non-stop if you want your works to become financially fruitful. And in order to release books non-stop, you have to be writingbooks non-stop.
So, I’ve abandoned my one-at-a-time philosophy. No, this isn’t the only way to do it, but I know that I have it in me to take on multiple writing projects, so I’m going to do it. My goal is to constantly have at least one book being written, one book being edited, and one book being published at all times. Lather, rinse, repeat. Because I realize that nothing happens by accident. It takes work, dedication, motivation, discipline, and time. I’m ready to put in the work, because I believe the dream is worth it.
And I believe in you, too. So, why not try?