Forget #Halloween Here’s 6 Reasons The Publishing Industry is Terrifying

industry-fear

I hate Christmas because it’s eye-twitchingly expensive. Mostly we spend it in the car or feeling bloated from greed. I don’t eat meat and honestly, I don’t really drink either, so the prospect of Christmas does not fill me with fluffy tinsel covered unicorns of joy. When I think of Christmas I think of the Grinch and smirk.

But Halloween, I don’t just like, I love it. And not for its real purpose of remembering the dead, or its meaningful roots derived from Irish mythology and Christianity, but because it’s filled with the weird and wonderful.

Halloween is the one time of the year when judgement stops and everyone is free. Ugly masks and unusual make up suddenly become acceptable, celebrated even. Fancy dress is no longer an oddity served with a raised bushy eyebrow, it’s compulsory.

Halloween has never been scary to me, but the writing business is and so is the publishing industry. 2017 is nearly upon us, and that means, that by hook or amputated butt cheek, I will be publishing next year.

So in a salute to Halloween, here’s 6 things I find terrifying about writing and the publishing industry 

Right, I’m going to get the philosophical bullshit out the way first. I swear I wasn’t high when I wrote the first one…

Terrifying Thing 1 – The Truest Shit You Ever Did Write

There are few things in life that are as beautiful as slowly dragging a ‘pen-knife’ across your fingers and watching as the blood flows and you bleed art onto the page. Writing… nay, creating, is as savage on our minds as it is heavenly when we breathe life into characters. If there is a god then we are his art, his beautifully flawed characters that stain the pure white page of heaven. It is only after the brutality of beating draft after draft after draft into a smoothly polished sculpture that our art is finally finished.

And that’s when it’s terrifying, because like any good piece of art, there is a fundamental truth buried somewhere inside it waiting for us to unwrap it and bask in its glorious life-changing book hangover. Not everyone sees ‘a truth’ every painting or book, because beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder.

But there is something even more spectacular about those that do see it… They don’t all see the same truth. Find the right story, character or author and it’s like the writer wrapped up a tiny gift. A life changing epiphany, customised to prod the perfect cell in your mind so it changes you and you’re never quite the same again.

It’s the rarest most raw form of power, and it’s what writers can do. We farm power, cultivate it over 80,000 words to just the right boiling point and then we fucking unleash the beast and if it’s lucky enough and sniffs out the right person, it will change a little piece of them, forever.

I’ve had it done to me so many times, it’s breath-taking, mind-blowing and terrifying. What if one day, I could be good enough create something that does that to someone?

Terrifying Thing 2 – Fuck Scouts Honour, This Contract Is Written In Blood & It Smells Distinctly Like Mine!

When I first opened my laptop years ago and decided I had to write, everything changed.

E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.M.O.T.H.E.R.F.U.C.K.I.N.GC.H.A.N.G.E.D.

It was like I was an x-men mutant and my mutation just kicked in. Shit got real, real fucking fast. I don’t know when I used my soul’s blood to sign a contract with myself, but I sure as shit did. And on that contract was an oath, to honour my dreams, to honour the most fundamental part of me. A part so fragile, that if I turned my back on it, even for a second and didn’t follow it to the ends of the earth, feed it, care for it and nurture it like a newborn, then it would perish until it drew its last breath and went to Neverland, and took a piece of me with it.

I cannot let myself down, If there’s only one promise I keep my entire life, then it has to be this one. It has to be the one that leads me to happiness and my days filled with creating.

I already threatened to cut my butt cheeks off once today and I bloody meant it. If I have to stitch my gluteus maximus to the chair using nothing but unicorn mane as thread and a blunt fork tip, I fucking will.

And that scares the shit out of me, because isn’t everyone scared of being the person they say they will?

What if you do it, you do the thing you say you will and…

Terrifying Thing 3 – You Fail… But Even Scarier, What If You Succeed…

I don’t know what’s more scary. Succeeding or failing? Elizabeth Gilbert, in one of her Ted Talks, discusses success and the fact she (realistically) is looking at the rest of her career, with her best work behind her. That is terrifying. We all continue to grow and develop the more years we spend writing, but what about her? Is that it for her?

*shudder*

That kind of success is the rarest diamond of all. You have to be one in a billion to do it. I don’t aspire to that, I want is to sell enough books to replace my salary so I can quit work and write all day. But in this market, even that is impossibly hard. What if I can’t do it? That scares the shit out of me, not enough to not try, but enough I’d consider selling body parts for camel spit and superman’s groin-sweat covered underpants if it meant I achieve my goal.

Terrifying Thing 4 – And Then You Write ‘THE END’ And Have To Actually Press Publish

I am lagging behind most readers in that I STILL haven’t lost my publishing V plates. Much to my horror and disgust, that makes me a 30-year-old virgin. NO one wants to be a 30-year-old virgin FFS.

But at some point in the spring (It frigging wants to be the spring, because otherwise I swear to pen heaven my eyes will bulge until they explode and smear my Mac screen with eye gloop)… Where was I? Oh yeah, in the spring, I will sit, very fucking quietly, with a triple scotch on the rocks, hands shaking like an earthquake and press the big fat fucking red button publish button of doom and sphincter spasming.

Judgement day is coming bitches, and I am fucking two parts terrified to three parts pure hysterical excitement.

Terrifying Thing 5 – Judgement Day Bitches & It’s Full of Fucking Shrugs

On a good day I am Marmite, on a bad day just bite. But I know I won’t please everyone, hell, M might be proud of me, but she sure as shitbombs ain’t chuffed with the language I used to get here.

I will offend some, surprise some but I hope I at least half please the rest. I rue the day the first 1* review comes in because you’re not really an author until you get one, and if you hadn’t already guessed, I really wana be a fucking author. Judgement day is coming and it’s as scary as it is exciting.

Sure I’ll get some 1*’s but don’t we all. But I’d rather provoke an extreme 1* reaction than I would have someone shrug their shoulders with indifference. Oh god, indifference is terrifying. But worse, once you press publish, you have to pick up the proverbial pen and do it all over again, that’s super exciting, but it’s also the teensiest bit scary!

Terrifying Thing 6 – Change is Changing

I wrote about the author earnings report recently in my October newsletter. It reported a 10% market share loss on the part of Indie authors for the first time in two and a half years… our reign might have finally come to an end, and no one knows why…

Joanna Penn said it recently: the only thing that’s constant in the publishing industry is change.

I love change, it’s actually what I do in my day job, much as I hate the job, I do actually love change. There’s nothing better than analysing a problem or process, spotting inefficiencies, tearing it to shreds and rebuilding it bigger and better. Perhaps that’s why I like writing books, because you tear it to pieces so many times?

It’s not really change that I find scary, it’s the principle behind change that I find terrifying. Change leads to…well, change. And changes induces a form of fight or flight. Like ol’ Darwers said, only the fittest survive. If you can’t adapt to change, if you can’t keep iterating, moulding, shaping, understanding and learning, then quite frankly you’re fucked into the Cretaceous period. Change does not scare me, the consequences of not adapting do. I do not want to be an extinct author.

 

What do you find terrifying about the book business, publishing or writing? Let me know in the comments below.


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63 comments

  1. Great post! I am still a virgin when it comes to publishing a book although I have a couple of books on Wattpad so maybe I do have some experience. Things that make me scream are spotting typos after it’s gone live, reading it a year later and thinking ‘WTF did I write?’ and minor characters becoming more popular than main ones. Roxy’s 89 year old Aunt had stolen the show on my book. Sigh!

    1. she clearly needs her own spin off then!! haha HATE it when that happens – one of mine has stolen the show too, sigh…. why dont the characters ever do what they’re bloody told?! You’re totes published, you’re just not selling yet….

  2. I have done many scary things in my life, but none come close to some of the jaw clenching moments that trying to be a writer has given me. It may well kill me off before I’m done, but even that thought will not stop me!
    BTW, I have a good feeling that 2017 will be a good year for all of us, especially you, Sacha…

    1. haha I know what you mean – I’ve done my fair share of what would be traditionally seen as scary and it’s nothing compared to this. I think its because we are cutting to the core of ourselves and finding out what we’re really made of, and that’s terrifying. aww thank you <3 <3 I so hope so. It's a big year for me in a LOT of different ways.

  3. Hilarious post, Sacha! Yet also one containing a lot of truth. For me the most terrifying thing was actually hitting publish and sending my book baby out into the big wide world for *gasp* other people to read. It’s not gone too badly though, which is a good thing. I’d love to make some money from it at some point, though I’ll keep writing no matter what. That’s probably one of the scariest things too, the idea that I might have to stop writing one day. Well, I’m not going to! ?

    1. teehee thank you <3 I was a bit high off the song I was listening to on repeat when I wrote this which is why I got a bit deep and meaningful!! hahaha, yeah I am going to need a REALLLLLLY stiff drink when I hit publish I can tell you that for nothing. I am pooping my pants at the thought. But I know, I will continue writing too, if for no other reason that I have to get these stories out of my head. But I am not going down without a fight. I will learn everything I can about marketing and just pray that I can earn enough to quit, or at least work part time. The thought that I can't is horrific.

      1. Absolutely! I refuse to entertain the idea that it won’t happen at some point.
        And oh yeah, I remember that first ‘publish’ moment – what a stressful thing to do! It still is, really – it gets a little easier with each book, but there’s still that feeling of ‘ohmygodwhathaveIdone’ when I hit the button haha 😀

  4. I’m double your number and still not there. “They” say that good things come to those who wait. I’m not so sure. Perhaps you just have to grab the bull by the horns and take it! I love this: ” Find the right story, character or author and it’s like the writer wrapped up a tiny gift. A life changing epiphany, customised to prod the perfect cell in your mind so it changes you and you’re never quite the same again.” I’m sure many of your readers will find that tiny gift in your words.

    1. aww thank you Norah – that really does mean a lot to me. I hope so. I REALLLLLLLLLY do hope so. It’s so true though, I have been changed irrevocably by so many books, I think that’s why it and this journey mean so much to me <3 <3

  5. You’re totally off your rocker! But I luvs ya anyway. I hate Halloween, btw, I’d much rather have Christmas. Either way, they have degenerated to nothing but commercial money-sucking monsters. Books, business and bad words, Sacha, its all right there in just one post. And as for metaphors, you are the Queen! ?

  6. Oh, Sacha, it’s not THAT terrifying 😀 It’s exciting and amazing and real life drama. I don’t think you’re going to have any trouble jumping right in and flailing like the rest of us. This is the place to do it too because we’ll all commiserate and celebrate with you. Happy Halloween!

  7. I think that 10 percent loss in market share for indie authors is because the traditional publishing industry is learning from us indies how to market books on the internet, and we are now at war but most of us indies don’t know it.

    For years, indie authors were innovating ideas for promoting their work on the Internet and were way ahead of the big publishers. Big publishing has caught up with us. They learned from us. Now they are outspending us doing the same things we’ve been doing for years.

    For instance, I remember back in 2013 when I first advertised through Book Bub, almost all the books advertised were indies. In 2014, I advertised through Book Bub again with no problem.

    Then in 2015, Book Bub turned the same book down for a 0.99 cent sale, and I resubmitted it again for a FREE offer once I was eligible, and they accepted it. Imagine that, paying $400 to give a book away. It wasn’t a total loss, because more than 40,000 copies were downloaded and the number of reviews almost tripled with 80 percent being 4 and 5 stars with that verified purchase label. Is free really a purchase?

    I didn’t submit an ad request with Book Bub in 2016 because the price has gone up so high.

    I still get an ad from Book Bub every morning, but almost all of those books are from traditional publishers; few from indies. We have been priced out and the deeper pockets of corporations took over. Is that why Book Bub raised their prides so high because the big publishers can pay more than us indie authors?

    1. That’s quite an astute observation, I suspect you’re right, I mean the trad houses were bound to catch up at some point, right? Oh man, I hated reading the rest of your comment and everything you experienced makes me sad I really really hope we can find new ways because I DON’T have deep pockets and I do know that you have to pay to play these days.

  8. I have been writing for children and that is great fun. I am now trying to write a novel so I can totally relate. Maybe we will both publish our first novel next year. Here’s to 2017 being a great writing year!

  9. Well, I was nearly 50 before I lost my virginity, Sacha, so from that point of view you’re ahead of the game. As for 1* reviews, I’ve only had one so far (and two 2*s), but it’s still my favourite.

  10. For me, there’s the fear that I’ve already reached my peak (however pathetically low that is) and I’ll never be able to write anything as good as what I’ve already written. What if there are no more stories left inside me? What if THIS is IT? Scary shit.

    Great post, Sacha. And so very true.

    1. ahhhh that won’t be the case, not if you actively learn and try to develop yourself, hey, we learn just from reading, I honestly don’t know if I even believe in peaks – definitely not in writing anyway, high jumping and sprinting maybe… but writing we will ALWAYS continue to grow <3 <3

  11. You’re right on track with all of these! And marketing…marketing my books terrifies me. I just want to write, but I have to get out there and try to convince people to buy them? Yikes!

    1. haha unfortunately so!! I wish we didnt but sadly unless were stephen king or james patterson no on advertises anything any more…. BIG FAT SIGH… I just wanted to write stories!

  12. Halloween is the best…even with all the commercialism – there’s still enough purists HA HA (But I think Dia de los muertos is in great danger of being Americanized)
    I love this part
    “But there is something even more spectacular about those that do see it… They don’t all see the same truth. Find the right story, character or author and it’s like the writer wrapped up a tiny gift. A life changing epiphany, customised to prod the perfect cell in your mind so it changes you and you’re never quite the same again.”
    Astute observation. Now that is power. And that is writing.
    Hope your Holler-Ring is spooktacular!

    1. hehe I do so so so love Halloween. Dia de los muertos is on my bucket list. I’d LOVE to visit the festival. Thank you by the way, I love that you liked that quote because I really believe it, I’ve had moments like that in books that have made others who have read the same book just raise an eyebrow.

  13. I think people will always write and people will always read. Hell, humans have been leaving stories for each other since they learned to paint on walls. It’s the finance side of it that I think is going to implode. This ridiculous race to the bottom, the “you MUST have a permafree”, “you CANNOT write stand-alones!”, this “GIVE AWAY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN” has essentially devalued the product to the point where readers have been trained to expect low prices. So I think our job is going to be working out how the hell we can actually make a living wage from it.

    1. Well that is certainly true, we will always do both, we’re wired for it. Unfortunately I have to agree about the devaluing, it’s so sad, and the bloody irony is, over the last two weeks I’ve noticed all of the big guns retracting their comments about permafree, now they are saying to put them out at a standard price and advertise them when they are on sales. Basically my conclusion is that no one knows what the fuck they are doing! :p

      1. I’ll be honest, I never had any intention of making my first in series permafree – fuck that for a game of soldiers! I don’t mind doing free short story collections but dammit I’ve put a lot of effort into my writing, I’m not giving it away for free when a lot of the evidence suggest readers make less effort to read a free book!

  14. Well, there must be something wrong with me, because I don’t find any of the writing and publishing process frightening. In fact, it excites me. I had enough being terrified when I allowed having dyslexia get in my way. It frightened and terrified me for far too long. Then I discovered WordPress and fought that terrifying monster and, with the help of all you guys out there, actually did my writing and published it. Phew! I did it! I actually pressed the published button and published a post. I love the whole process. It’s like I’ve landed on a new planet where the inhabitants are just like what I always wanted to be – a published author.

    Love, love, love Christmas. Hey, I have to, because I was born then, and if it wasn’t for Christmas then would I have ever been born? ?

    1. Ahhh maybe frightening is too strong a word but actually the prospect of publishing a book and it failing miserably is quite awful for me, but then I want to write as a career rather than just for the love of it so I guess that’s why. You’re GOING to be a published author THIS year, that must be an amazing feeling 😀 😀 wait what? You were born on christmas day?

      1. How the heck did I overlook this comment? Sorry for the delayed reply. Yes, I see where you are coming from now. However, what does failure mean? I suppose we all have targets but, for me, just by you getting your book out there means you haven’t failed. I don’t know if you remember my short story ‘Gloria’s Chest’? It’s one that has made it to my upcoming book. It’s been rewritten, but just ensure you never visit Gloria, OK? ?

  15. Freakin’ awesome post! Love your honesty girl! I agree with you on all counts. What terrifies me is, like you, we know we’re in it for life. It becomes a lifetime commitment to be a self published author, whether you never wrote another thing or not, we have to protect our assets, investment, our writing. We don’t want our books to become lonely or stale, and so we keep writing, and in between more writing as some of look for some paid writing in between til the rich and famous part comes along, lol. But more, what scares me is what happens to our empire when we’re gone? Sure we can pass on our legacy and royalties (which I’ve already done), but who’s going to have the same passion for us or the know-how to continue our business and babysit our work? I think I just gave you one more thing to worry about, shit, sorry. 🙂 <3

    1. I KNOW RIGHT!!!!!!!! This bad boy ain’t going away. NO.MATTER.WHAT. That is more commitment than any marriage or bloody mortgage! Hahahaha yes you did. Oh man. Now I will ponder that all night. Except, I technically don’t have a legacy yet! YET…. It’s coming…. S.L.O.W.L.Y

  16. I think the possibility that you might actually be a success scary. But, I`m like you, I want to earn enough to get us off the disability benefit trap and then the second goal is to buy our own house. So I have to bite the bullet and exorcise those fears. lol

  17. Hitting the publish button was scary, but I realized after the fact that I was taking some comfort in the idea that just because it is out there doesn’t mean anyone will read it. It was far, far, more terrifying to see the notification that the first reviews were in.

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