I Hate to Burst Your Bubble… One Indie Author’s (Un)Realistic Expectations to Success by Keri Kruspe
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Keri Kruspe as she shares with us “I Hate to Burst Your Bubble… One Indie Author’s (Un)Realistic Expectations to Success.” Enjoy!
When I was finally given the chance to work on my lifelong dream of becoming a published, full time author, I had some firm, unshakable beliefs as to how that would come about.
As I jumped into the profession, I was convinced I had everything I needed to make it happen quickly. I saw it all. I’d launch my book, quit my job, and rake in the money… all within the same month.
But… did it? Let’s take a quick peek of my expectations in becoming a full-time, best-selling author before I answer that question.
A quick peek of my expectations
My number one belief after I finished my first novel ten years ago was I’d have no problem landing a publisher.
I’d get one quickly and would be offered boatloads of cash for the privilege of representing my book. I’d make enough money to not only quit my day job right away, but to never worry about my financial future again.
In my mind, it was all there. A publisher/agent would gleefully hand me a contract with a hefty advance. The money would pour in, and I would happily sit at my desk, creating new worlds of romance and adventure.
Did I find that publisher/agent?
I wrote query letters and proudly sent over one hundred of the little beasties to various publishers.
I don’t have to tell you it didn’t take long to be the proud owner of a lovely stack of rejection letters. Let’s not mention the cricket sounds of the queries from the folks that didn’t bother answering.
Not that I blame them. I pulled that first manuscript out not too long ago and was shocked. Not only did I write a cringe-worthy script, my plot was so full of holes I could have played miniature golf on it.
What expectations? I have to edit this novel?
Another huge misconception I had was I only needed to write my novel once.
After all, I’d been an avid reader for the last twenty years. (Avid means I read at least a book a week if not more.)
The publisher would massage my work into a shiny something that would awe the masses.
I didn’t think it was my job to send them a completed, professional manuscript. It was up to them to “see through” any issues I had as a writer and “mentor” me to the higher level if needed.
Another Assumption on How Many Books to Write per Year
Another big fallacy I had goes hand-in-hand with the aforementioned assumption. I could take all the time I needed between books. Maybe write one a year… or maybe two years.
In my defense, most of my favorite authors come out with their latest books no more than once a year. Heck, I used to mark my calendar or scan Amazon to put their books on my wish list so I wouldn’t forget.
Yeah, I had a clear vision of what that lifestyle was like. I’d kick back, taking nine or ten months to write my next novel. Then I’d send the first draft off to my agent/publisher, and not think about it until they told me my adoring fans were eagerly waiting for me to either be at a book signing or at some convention where I’d give a motivational speech. (I’m a weirdo, I love public speaking.)
After that, I’d relax for two or three months to allow me to “recuperate” and brainstorm my next best-seller.
Expectations vs. Reality
So, did everything happen like I thought it would? The simple answer is, of course not.
As with everything else in life, we either embrace the real world and research what we need to be successful -or- we move on to something else.
I am a stubborn individual (after all, my astrological sign is Taurus the bull), and I’m tenacious enough to want to become a successful, full-time author. No matter what ridiculous vision I had that got in my way.
Instead of wallowing in self-imposed misery, I did some research.
I started by finding out how other writers embarked on their careers. I took heart that many successful writers had secular jobs before becoming full-time authors.
- Agatha Christie was an assistant apothecary.
- Tom Clancy sold insurance while he wrote his first military/espionage novels.
- As we all probably know, John Grisham was an attorney while Nicholas Sparks sold dental products over the phone.
While I didn’t have the same hardcore beliefs about self-publishing as I did about traditional publishing, at least I was smart enough to know I had a lot to learn.
Even so, I unrealistically assumed once my novel was on Amazon (or Kobo or Barnes/Noble or Apple…) my precious work would be the darling of the SciFi Romance genre. People would fall over themselves to buy my book.
With eager anticipation, I watched the sales ranking of my first, lone book day after day. Boy, was I disappointed when sales were tepid at best.
(Unrealistic expectations, you bet.)
There had to be more. It soon became obvious I only had half the skills I needed to become a successful author. I needed to develop a marketing aptitude. I struggled with this because I’d never heard of Amazon Ads, nor did I understand the whole Facebook/Twitter thing.
I thought those social media titans were just for personal use.
You know, fun pics of my dog or kids doing something silly. I used it to keep track of friends and family that I’d lost track of. Not something I had to delve into to become the lifeblood of my business.
Re: Expectations, Now what?
In my search for success, I realized that the most helpful marketing ideas are the simplest. I can’t remember how I found it, but I stumbled on Nicholas Erik’s Ultimate Book Marketing Formula (site) or his book on Amazon here.
His simple formula hit a nerve with me and for the last couple of months I’ve been striving to follow his advice:
Here was a reality I could wrap my head around. In order to quit my job and only focus on my writing career, I’ve found a clear roadmap on how to get there. This formula is a better way to obtain my goal instead of assuming I can get there without putting in the work.
I hate to admit it, but it took me long enough to remember what happens when I assume things.
Editor’s Note: What are your unrealistic and realistic expectations for your author career? Post in the comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keri Kruspe has been an author since the age of twelve and has always been fascinated with otherworldly stories that end in Happily Ever After. Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures, Keri’s first series is An Alien Exchange trilogy. An Alien Exchange is the first book in the arousing Alien Exchange sci-fi romance series. If you like sexy aliens, feisty heroines, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Keri Kruspe’s steamy space adventure.
Keri now resides with her family in the wilds of Northwestern Michigan. An avid reader, Keri enjoys good wine, good food, and watching action/adventure movies. You can find her most days immersed in her fantasy world of writing or traveling with her hubby in their RV, discovering intelligent life here on Earth. For goodies, news of upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter at www.kerikruspe.com.