First off, welcome to another installment of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! The first Wednesday of each month, writers from all over gather and share our fears- join us!
Today I'm writing about writing benchmarks and the fear and terror that goes with them.
I've been writing for a very long time, but just got serious the past 8-10 years. My world changed when I self-published my first book, The Glass Gargoyle, March 2015. Since then I've published the next two in that series, and the first one in my space opera series- Warrior Wench. That's four books in 14 months while having a full-time day job. I'm proud of that. Those books weren't slapped up there, I had a lot of professional help on them.
I've now had all four books at various times be on various different top 100 lists on Amazon. My sales are creeping upwards. (Yeah, not quitting that day job any time soon though. ;))
I'm moving forward. Slowly, but moving.
But I am constantly fighting fears, demons, and mental naysayers.
When you're an independent author, you don't get the reinforcement the traditionally published authors do. No one is hanging out in your corner, handing you the water bottle and the mouth piece so you can go back out there and continue the fight(at least not professionally). The only shield we have against the horrific self doubt is us.
The benchmarks of "success" are difficult to define--well, not if you're a NYT bestselling author, supporting your family through your writing--but for the rest of us they are. I count every single book sold as a success--the big authors are counting in the thousands.
You work so hard to get a book out, then you watch the sales slow down, but it's okay, soon you have another book to come out, then those sales slow down. Reviews don't come. Or when they do come there are some real stinkers in there. Getting on lists is good- falling off of them is not so good.
Other authors around you seem to be doing so much better, and when you listen to them, you wonder what you've done wrong. Trying to figure out why sales spiked (a great feeling) or crashed (again-not so much) is a game that will drive anyone mad.
I'm at the point where I feel okay with saying I'm a writer. I'm not sure how to convince myself that I'm a successful writer.
(And yes, the logical part of my brain is saying to be proud, define my own success, enjoy what I've done so far- but sometimes my little fear-animal-brain just isn't listening ;)).