Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Do you ever feel like giving up?" - or - Advice for writers, and a little rant.

Recently, as I was reading an Indie Author group on Facebook, I came across this post:

"Do you guys ever feel like giving up? I'm just getting started in this business, but it seems like unless by some miracle, the "right person," like Mark Coker, happens to notice you and starts promoting you, you continue to swim as a little bitty fishy in a great, big ocean! It seems that EVERYONE is a writer, and EVERYONE is trying to get noticed. Unless you have money to spend on lots of ads, etc. (which I don't), you just keep swimming..." – Kitten Jackson ( )

This made me start thinking…  and this was the reply I posted to her:

“All the time... I feel like giving up all the time. When no one takes my working as a writer seriously... when I go days or weeks without sales... when I promote my work all over the internet and feel completely ignored... yes. For me, though... I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I will be as long as I live. I can't help it. I tell stories... and now I'm putting them out for the world to share. I'm going to continue to do it... noticed or not. I've made sales, I've been interviewed, I've been reviewed... it has long slow periods... but that's just what I've come to understand as the "nature" of the beast. It's worth it to me for those who read and like my work... and even if I don't ever achieve "wide-spread success" as an author... then, so be it. I can't help that I write, that I tell stories, that I want to share it with others... it's who I am, and I'm not going to let any of the slow periods, the successes of others, or any perceptions others might have (or even my own from time to time) change that.

I'm a writer. I write. I'm a storyteller. I tell stories. 

It's who I am, and that's just all there is to it. Noticed or not.”

I think sometimes people who aren’t in this business don’t comprehend what it’s like to do this kind of work.

The “Work” of it, as I often hear people call it, is perceived as writing things down that you make up. While this is a part of the job… it’s by far and away not the whole of it. You may ask “What then is this “work” you are talking about then mister writer man?”

Well…  it’s constant marketing. It’s Blogging, updating, following up with people, finding places that will review your work, for good or ill, and asking for those reviews. Trying to get exposure for your work. Trying to stay in touch with your readers.  Tweeting. Facebooking. Constant pushing, and obsessive checking and rechecking everything.

Why? Because if you don’t then there are literally thousands of other people in your field who will fill the void you leave, and your work thus far will all have been for naught.

Don’t believe me? Write a book. Get it edited. Format it. Get cover art for it. Get it to the services that print or offer eBooks for sale. Market yourself. Market the book. Track your sales.

It is a lot harder than it sounds… Trust me. It's even harder if you want to do odd things... like see loved ones, spend time with children, work a day job, have a social life... ya know, do anything besides what centers on the book.

Now I can hear someone out there saying, “Well, mister writer man, if it is so difficult, headache inducing, and time consuming, then why do you do it?”

My answer to that it this: For every single time that a reader tells me how much they enjoyed my work… how they were pulled in… how it spoke to them… how they couldn’t stop reading it… that makes all of it worth it to me. (Understand, now, that is a personal answer. I can’t speak for all writers)

Others still would say, “Mister writer man, if your work was any good it would be huge and everyone would know about it. Talent is all it takes to succeed in writing.”

To that I say: HAHAHAHAHA!!! No, really…  If I had a nickel for every indie author I’ve read and loved… or better yet, a nickel for every writer I’ve read from a major publishing house with poor story, grammar, and (evidently) a complete lack of spellcheck…  I’d be a far wealthier man, today.

Finally, my favorite… Still others say: “If your work is so good, mister writer man, you’d be published by a big publishing house. They’d drop a big check in your lap, and they’d pay people to do all that work that you claim is so hard for you, and you wouldn’t have any worries.”

This one is a blatant lie. It’s wrong on every level.

To begin with… I know authors who are signed with major publishing houses. Want to know how I met them? They were right there beside me (in an internet kinda way) doing the same things I was doing… to get their work out there… reviewed… read… enjoyed… and to get exposure for it.

Facts of life are the same as the facts of writing: You have to work hard to succeed. Talent is good…  don’t get me wrong… but talent without the endless hours of hard work is ultimately worthless (unless you are the luckiest single person to ever walk the earth).

So, do I ever feel like giving up? Yes.

Do I ever give up? Yes. I give up, walk away. Make a pot of coffee. Then I sigh, shake my head, and get right back to work.


  1. OMG!!! This is SO true! I love your response to Kitty!!
    I discovered writing a little over three years ago, and I'll never turn back. Writing is a passion, a craving, part of my very cells. I feel like if I stop writing, a part of me will die.
    I feel like giving up all the time. A little secret: Sometimes I hear and see my writer friends successes and I get horribly jealous. I'm so happy for them, but it almost makes me feel like giving up because I can't seem to find that same success. That's when I talk to my friends, I whine, I vent and I move on.
    My favorite thing as a writer: Watching someone read what I've written. It may be creepy, but I absolutely LOVE seeing their facial expressions as they read.
    Your blog completely hits home for me. I love your writing Dennis. Don't stop. I agree that you have to work hard to succeed in this field, and I wish you the best of luck in your future as a successful writer. :)

    1. Thanks, Jean! It means a lot that can understand, and I totally get what you mean about watching someone reading your words.

  2. Well, well, mister writer man!! ;) I must say that I truly enjoyed this blog post, and I feel very honored to have been the inspiration for it! Well, sort of. Haha! Thank you, mister writer man, for the encouraging words, as I'm sure I'm not the only one who will feel better after reading them. And you're absolutely right, Dennis! Unless people actually do what we do, they can't imagine the satisfaction, and at the same time, the hard work and discouragement that also seem to go along with the territory. It's not easy, and sometimes it's very difficult and even painful, but it's part of doing what we love, so we do it. Writing is who we are, so not doing it isn't an option. We ARE writers. :)

    1. Exactly, Kitten. It's who we are, and what we do.

  3. I completely agree with you. There are times, well actually, a lot of the time I feel like I'm in this vast ocean watching other authors succeed and feel like giving up. But in all honesty what is succeeding exactly? I think after reading your post.. I can answer this. I have succeeded. I wrote my book. Got it edited and published it. I do have a small fan base (outside of my family and close friends) and several of these fans are cheering me on for my next book. Therefore I have succeeded. Even if I only had one true fan... that's good for me. I do agree. That the writer world is a hard one but it's satisfying if one doesn't expect too much too soon. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I think this expresses the thoughts of every writer whose hard work and dedication to the craft has been ignorantly shrugged off by people outside the industry.

    Being a writer is hard, but it's one of the most fulfilling jobs a person can have.

  5. Great points, Dennis, and you're taking the right approach. I'm still waiting to "break through"...or at least I thought I was. Then I realized I just love writing, I love interacting with other authors and with readers, and I get a little jolt of excitement whenever I hear from someone who read one of my books.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Hey Dennis, get out of my head, lol. No seriously, everything you mentioned is exactly the way I feel. I know plenty of authors who feel the same. To truly understand the insanity of this business, you have to do it. And it is insane, but like you, I am a writer. I cannot shut that off. Believe me, there are days I want to quit. I want to say the hell with all of it, but I can't. I'll always be a writer, regardless of how popular I am. I may never "make it big", but that's okay. I still have stories to tell and people willing to read them. At the end of the day, that's what matters most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.