Four years ago, I started an experiment and self-published my first story through Lulu. It was full of typos and first-time mistakes, and ever since then I’ve strived to put together a better book. In those four years, I have reached the point where my self-published books were as good as the pro books, and in some cases, mine were even better. I made tables of contents for mine, and lots of pros didn’t bother. I revised my ebooks when I found mistakes, or when readers did, and the pros fire and forget every product, every time. I’m not saying they should go back and fix every little thing. I’m saying I worked harder than the pros would. I committed myself to give people the best product I could, even fixing stories long after they were released.
I was doing this for fun, but over time, I’ve invested more and more of my energy and money into convincing readers to check my stuff out. At times, my free downloads were doing so great, I assumed soon I would see lots of reviews. But other writers explained in their blog posts how people who read stuff for free don’t feel any obligation to lend support. Free readers have to be bribed to offer support. This went against everything I feel passionate about. I’m a vocal supporter of writers, but also of musicians and visual artists. I’m a vocal and passionate person, and I want to believe that deep down, everyone can be just as passionate if I could just find the right message to stir them to feel something.
But you know what? In four years, no one ever proved me right. I have some fans who are just as passionate, but those people are other writers. It’s not that my works fired their passion. They already had passion. They saw my drive and energy, and they wanted to help me achieve my goals. If I make nothing else clear in this TL;DR post, I want to make it clear how much I love and appreciate those communities of writers. Pro, semi-pro, or amateur, you folks are all right, and I never, NEVER want to resent you for having success.
Lately, there’s been constant hub-bub over Amanda Hocking. First, there’s writers bitching that her writing is not so good, so how can she sell so well? I didn’t care for that sour grapes shit, and I said so in an earlier post. But then Amanda signed a book deal, and she’s gonna make a few million. Amanda is saying “I don’t have time to write any more. I just promote all the time, and that’s not what I want for me.” And she is so right on. I love to write. I LOVE to write. But I fucking hate promoting anything. And it’s not that I mind putting out a product and saying, “Hey, look at this.” It’s that I have to shout and scream and push to make a few sales. I run myself ragged for sales, and I hate every minute of it. I hurt myself, ending up laying on the couch for half the day because I’m so stressed out. I take more and more time away from writing to promote, and it’s never converted into a big sales drive. I work all month for a handful of sales.
I invest 14-18 hours a day to this hobby now. Last year, I invested a couple thousand euros in cover art and promotions. And for my investment, I got 500 sales. Don’t you dare pat me on the back, and don’t you tell me how some people aren’t doing as good. LOOK AT THE MATH I JUST GAVE YOU. I spend FOURTEEN to EIGHTEEN hours of EVERY DAY working, so I can earn less in a month than you will working one SIX HOUR day at a regular office job. And then I get done with all this work so someone can tell me, “It’s great that you’re MAKING A LIVING WITH YOUR ART.” I’m…do you even understand why that’s a backhand slap in my face? I don’t think you do, because you people keep saying it and not understanding why I suddenly get all twitchy and abrasive.
I’m not earning a living. If it weren’t for hubby, I would have starved to death long ago. So don’t you dare tell me you admire me for selling my art. Don’t you dare call this “making a living.” It’s an insult to all the hard work I do only to earn a pittance, whatever scraps that the OTHER WRITERS can afford to send my way. They bust their asses, and it kills me when they send donations from their day jobs. It kills me that despite all the work they’ve done, I remain unknown.
Zoe Winters started her career after me. I’d already put out a set of comedy videos under the Infinitely Stupid brand on YouTube, and I already had 20 books out when she was just dropping Zoe Who? and her first book. Now people keep asking if Zoe Winters is really me. Zoe Winters is more well known than me, and she more sales per month than I sell all year. I read Zoe’s books, and I love them. I think Zoe is an awesome chica, and just like Amanda Hocking I want to be happy for her success. Okay, I rolled the dice, and my shit didn’t sell. But I never want to resent a writer just because they’re having a good day.
Which brings me to Suzanne Collins. I’ve had people tell me they can’t read me because I’m just too dark. My writing is so unhappy, so…dystopian. Many of these same people who wouldn’t read me PRASIED Hunger Games, and said they were shocked by how different this work was from other YA. And I started reading Hunger Games, and I resented the people who read that book and thought it was great. I resent the book for mistaking a sheltered existence for a hard life. But it’s a perspective problem, you see. My childhood was so lousy that Katniss looks like a spoiled brat to me. To people who think skipping lunch is hard living, the world Katniss lives in must seem terrifying. But to me, it was trash.
BUT, recently, my resentment of the work has started bleeding over to the writer. This does not please me. I don’t want to be the bitter wannabe. When I read, I want to enjoy what I’m reading. I don’t want to be studying it to figure out why it sold well and all my stuff failed. And more than that, I don’t want to resent Suzanne Collins for her success, even if I don’t like her story. I want to move on and let it go. But lately, I can’t. It hurts so bad that I released my best book to a resounding 5 sales on opening day. It hurts that I can spend all day begging for sales to get one or two.
Some of you may come along and say “I don’t like negativity, so I won’t read your work now.” Hey, fuck you. You weren’t reading my shit before, and you were looking for excuses to avoid reading me from the word go. I’m sick and fucking tired of holding myself back, kissing your ass with my silence in the hope that you’d eventually try my work.
You people may ask, “Why are you so angry and negative?” I had a rotten childhood, ruined by normal people and their mainstream values. I had my personality and body repressed for 20 years by bullies, and their attacks were condoned by adults who had the gall to tell me I deserved it for not being normal. That’s why I’m angry. That’s why you don’t get happy stories from me, and why my work is so dark. Because I grew up in a shit world that I had to fight tooth and nail to make a place for myself in.
And now, I’m at the peak of my artistic skills. I can hand paint a cover, write a novel with my eyes closed, and compose a fucking musical album to go with it. I can fly creative circles around most people, and yes, it’s about god damned time that I remind people that I have a 135 IQ. I do and say stupid shit enough that you might think I’m an idiot. At times, I even cultivate an “aw shucks” attitude about my skills. But the fact is, I have more talent in one hand than most people have in their whole body. And even for the truly talented people, I can still step up and deliver shit just as good as their work.
But you know what? Talent isn’t good enough. Being a fucking genius has never been a guarantee of success for anyone. An idiot has just as much chance of success if they’re willing to work themselves to death. A writer with weak talent can earn a paycheck if they just keep pushing their crap stories. The law of averages is on their sides.
But if I want to offer you something really different, something you’ve never seen before, you don’t want it. You don’t want my work because I won’t play to your expectations. To me, that’s the point of being the alternative artist. I want to do something really different.
Now Amanda Hocking is a true indie, whether she’s made a pro deal or not. She has busted her ass to earn her place. But her stories are not cutting edge. They play to reader expectations. She is not alternative. Her success will come because she’s writing stuff that WILL appeal to a broad audience. So it totally makes sense for her to sign a book deal and let the publishers do the heavy lifting.
But I’m not Amanda Hocking. I don’t write mainstream, and I don’t write on spec. Before you tell me off about not trying hard enough, I wrote 14 books last year, well over a million words. My output puts all but the most prolific pros to shame. I’m not a lazy person, and I’m not refusing to write mainstream without trying it. I tried, and I hated the results. It’s my opinion that if I hate the writing, you will too. I can’t fake enthusiasm for this kind of writing. It’s not laziness. I just know my own limits.
So, I’ve had enough, and the sign I’ve had enough is Suzanne Collins. I don’t want to resent her. I don’t want to turn her into my Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer. Lots of writers pick a target to resent, and whenever things aren’t going right for them, they dump shit on their Dan Brown. But I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that to Miss Collins. I want to be truly happy for her that her books will become movies. And I can’t do that if I continue to write the way I’ve been writing.
So, I’m quitting pro writing. I will continue to write as a hobby, but I will never again let other people peer pressure me into treating this as anything but a hobby. I will release my stories on Smashwords without covers, unless I feel like painting something. I don’t give a fuck if you think that’s professional or not. I’m not a professional. I never was. I don’t give a fuck if my attitude sends you away because you can’t stand any negativity in your sheltered little world. I’m no longer going to bother with advertising, spending all my free cash begging you to read me, only to be ignored. I’m not going to mail reviewers and ask them to take my book, only to have them send me to the bottom of the TBR pile forever. I’ll drop a book on Smashwords, and for a month after that, I’ll put up one or two tweets per day. I’ll put links on Facebook. But beyond that, I’m not busting my ass all month long to earn $20-30. Fuck that. And don’t tell me that any of you would keep working for scraps like that year in and out. You wouldn’t. You don’t even have the drive to do half the work I’ve done.
Does that offend you, that I just implied that you’re a lazy person? Have you decided RIGHT NOW you won’t read me because I called you lazy? Fuck you. There’s the door. BYE. You never once posted a rating. That’s two seconds of work, or 0.00001 percent of the effort I put into one book. In one year, I’ve written more than you ever will in all the forums and blogs combined. Compared to me, you are a lazy, unmotivated, sheltered sloth. And I am sick and fucking tired of begging you to move your finger (just one) and click a fucking star. BUT, I’ll bet you at least one of you motherfuckers WILL give me one star on this post, because I’ve finally lost my temper and called you out.
FUCK YOU, SLOTH, AND THERE’S THE DOOR.
If there is anyone left reading this tirade at this point, you are the only people I want to talk to. You are the people who commented on my blogs, who read every book and emailed me. You are the people who posted reviews and offered me support in your own ways. Maybe you couldn’t always buy stuff, but you made an effort. It is for you people that I will continue to write and post stuff. Your support has been the only thing that kept me from chucking it all throughout 2010. For every bleak depression I suffered, you were there to lend support. For every time I needed help, you were there. And you people are fucking awesome. I’m crying as I write this, because I never wanted to reach this point of being this mad and this tired. It is to you people that I owe apologies for backing down and going back to being a hobby writer.
When my hosting contract ends this year, I’m closing my web site down. I will maintain my WordPress blog so y’all can get updates on new releases. I will still post book and music reviews, but I will no longer blog just to have content up. I will blog when I feel like it. Because this is just my hobby. I’m not wasting more money on a web site just because certain people think it looks more professional.
I’m taking down the Aphotic Thought Press web site, although I will continue to use the name. I registered it legally, after all, so I might as well. I guess for the rest of all time, I will own a block of ISBN numbers that I will never use. Maybe some day a writer I really like will need to release a book, and no one else will take it. So I’ll give them an ISBN number and we’ll call their book an ATP title. Or maybe I’ll just have a block of numbers because real writers wouldn’t want to be associated with an amateur operation. Whatever.
I will post stories on Smashwords, but I will not be going into the premium catalog. I will not bother putting work on Amazon. For that matter, I’ll soon be pulling my titles from Amazon. The mobi files are available elsewhere, and if people are unable to visit a different vendor to support independent art, then I’m sorry, but that isn’t the kind of reader I want for my books. I’m sick of Amazon treating me like shit and acting like I should take it. I hate having to contact customer service when I know they’re just going to brush me off. And why shouldn’t they? I’m not a real writer, so why should they even pretend to respect me?
I’m done playing at the pro game. I’m done feeling bitter. So I will also be cutting back on my online time. I will divide my new found free time between studying Italian and learning guitar. I’ve already ordered a lovely left hand Cort guitar and a basic 15W Crate amp. As soon as it comes in, I’m going to start in on scales and chords and work my way up.
I will continue to write, but only as a hobby. I will commit only 2-3 hours per day to this. No more, no less. That means that I can’t make 14 books a year, but hell, it’s not like my copious quantity ever did anything for me. So if I only write 3-4 books a year, it’s okay. If I release those books and they don’t sell anything on opening day, it’s okay. If you people hate my guts and they don’t sell a single copy ever, that’s okay. Because this is my hobby, not your business. You people who buy my stuff can be fans of my writing, but it does not obligate me to become a professional just because I’ll finally be earning money instead of losing it every year. And, let me be clear. I may have made five hundred sales. But I invested the equivalent of 2,000 sales, and I have consistently lost money on this experiment. Custom covers did not convince you. Tight editing and free samples did not convince you. Good reviews did not convince you. So yes, now I’m pissed off, and I just know someone is feeling resentment at me for saying this. In fact, a good friend on Twitter suggested you might think of me as a bully for saying how much I resent you.
Lately, that’s my problem, people. I stopped being okay with any of this. I stopped having fun. I’ve started to resent every facet of writing. But I don’t resent it because of the work I do. I resent that all this passion on my part still results in abject apathy on your part. I resent that nothing I’ve ever done stirred you. I resent that the only thing that may stir you is this post, and it will stir you NOT to read my work. And up to a certain point, I can live with all of that resentment.
But the day I woke up resenting Suzanne Collins was the last day I wanted to be a professional writer. I don’t give a fuck what most people think of me. I don’t care if you think I’m abrasive and a bitch. But I practice what I preach, and I WILL NOT resent a writer for having success. I don’t care what my opinion of her work is, or what my problems are with her characters. If it’s come to this, that I resent a writer because I cannot have what they have, I’m done. I will not become a hypocritical, back-biting wannabe whining about the hard work and successes of others.
It’s a long-shot that Miss Collins will ever read this. But the online world is full of stories about long shot things happening frequently. So, Ms. Collins, I’m sorry that I let my personal problems get in the way of my assessment of your work. Being a struggling writer, I understand intimately how much you must have worked to get that story published, and I’m truly glad that you’ve got a movie in the works. Hell, I may even go see it, just to prove that there are no hard feelings on my part. But, there WAS some resentment building toward you for that book being so successful, and that’s my problem to sort out.
I’m sorry to everyone who read my stuff and was hoping I’d work harder on promotions. I’m sorry to everyone who did work to support and promote me. I know this post is probably breaking your heart, because you think I’m killing my career. Well I know I’m killing it, and I’m doing it because I don’t want to play anymore. I’m sorry for disappointing you and going back to writing only 3-4 books a year. I really hope that even if I don’t use covers or sell in all the stores, some of you will continue to read and review my stuff. But if you don’t want to associate with a “divisive person,” I suppose I will try to understand your continued silence too.
But to the rest of you, I’m tired of begging and pleading you, so I’m done. I rolled the dice for four years, and I shot crap with every roll. Totally my bad. I’m not blaming you. But I do resent you, for never once caring enough to at least send me a “meh.” I resent you for the months of work I put into every title, and yet I never earned five minutes of your time for a review or two seconds for a rating. For all my work, you never felt I deserved so much as a private email, or a link on your Facebook profile. I resent that for all the work I do, you don’t do anything in return.
So I’m done working for you. If reading this long ass post makes you sad because I’ll be writing less, I’m sorry. You’re the people I appreciate. But if you read this and it convinces you to continue avoiding my work, fuck you. I’ve been wanting to say that to you for two and half years now, and I hate to say it, but Dick was right. It does feel cathartic to finally say what I mean. So from the bottom of my black beady heart: fuck you, you lazy, sheltered, self-centered, sociopathic, free-loading assholes. Don’t you come back at me with “well what did you do?” Because I have supported a lot of artists, publicly and privately. I have endorsed charities and causes and donated regularly to them and to private causes as well. I have busted my ass for four years with a passion and a volume that most of you couldn’t accomplish without first doing a pair of eight balls back to back.
I do a fuckload more than you ever will, but for all my support and promotions, you remained the same apathetic silent assholes you’ve always been. So much for leading by example, and fuck you, one last time. Go back to your reality TV show and your “popcorn movies,” and I hope y’all remain completely happy being the lowest common denominators that the other content producers aim at.
There’s a million writers, musicians and artists who will happily kiss your ass and placate your every whim. I’m not that person. I’m sick of this shit, and I cannot continue to write if I’m feeling this bitter. So consider this the stake in the heart of my professional career. I’m a fucking hobbyist who used to have fun with this. It wasn’t the publishers who ruined this for me, and it isn’t other writers. It’s you silent assholes looking at me and asking “Well what did you expect?” I expected you to fucking REACT. Either to be offended or inspired, or mad or upset. But that kind of response is too much to expect from you slacktivist motherfuckers. My bad for having more hope in the human race than you fucking deserve.
So, if this TL;DR wall o’ text wasn’t clear, I’m done. Fuck my career, and fuck you silent readers. Thanks to my real fans and supporters who carried me this far for the last few years.
But for those of you who lurked but couldn’t be bothered to help, fuck you. If I still had a dick, this is the part where I would have told you to suck it.