On a Facebook group I recently discovered, an author decided it would be a good idea for other authors to post links to their FB pages, so the other authors could like their pages and generate increased interest. I decided to play along, and added my novels page to the group. Then I started going through the other links, in order to bestow my likes.
That’s when I noticed a major difference between my pages and most of the other pages. Other authors had 300 likes… 600 likes… 1,200 likes… more. And these are authors who are fighting for sales of their books.
I had 28 likes. 28.
I’ve recently used paid Facebook ads to get my site out to over 2,000 people. Out of those, I got 28 likes. Out of those, I got 7 shares. And on Amazon, I got zero sales.
Despite the encouraging words of a few authors or other people I know, I’m just not seeing anything encouraging about those numbers. Further, I’m just not seeing the long game here; I can’t see how my strategy—how any strategy I could apply with my present resources—is going to succeed in a year, 10 years or 100 years. This writing thing has been—and continues to be—a bust.
Which brings to mind a commencement speech given by Mike Rowe last spring at Prager University. The host of the ground-breaking show Dirty Jobs, in his most eloquent way, pointed out to the recent grads that your personal passion, however enjoyable it may be, may not be something you can make a living at… heck, it may not even be something you’re any good at. And sometimes the most important part about being an adult is recognizing the difference between your passion and your actual aptitude towards it.
But there are other opportunities out there, many of which match your actual skillset. These are the opportunities that should be pursued, because these are the opportunities that will allow you to make an actual living. Then, once that living is made, you can see if you can find a place to fit your passions into your life. “Never follow your passion; but always bring it with you.”
Good, practical advice, from a good, practical man. And as I look back at writing science fiction novels, an avocation that I thought would be an important part of my life, I now find I have to agree with Mike that it is, in fact, another passion that will not lead me through life, but may instead tag along behind me as I do other good works to make a living and provide for my family. (I say “another,” because it follows my first passion, pen-and-ink illustration, which I long ago found I had to relegate to a tagalong role in my life as well.)
Presently I’m between jobs, and while I’ve been pursuing other opportunities, I thought that maybe now was the time to bring my passion forward and see if it could sustain me through the future. But after a few weeks of consideration, I have to admit to myself that it’s still not ready for prime time, and in fact, creating an unwelcome distraction from what should be my primary duty, landing a new job.
And so, back to the closet it goes, to be brought back out someday when I have the luxury of time to pursue it.
Here’s Mike’s address, if you are interested.