The reality is for most people who choose writing and publishing as their career path, it seems, that it leads to success for very few. Of course, each person has their own definition and markers of success, which includes the usual goals; actual publication, a publishing contract, sales on all platforms, readership, favourable reviews and the ultimate nod – inclusion as someone of worth and note in writing festivals.

The key takeaway for me from the two of the three events I attended during Sydney Writers’ Festival 2016 this past week (Being a Writer in the 21st Century – Woollahra Council and Forest For The Trees – NSW Writers’ Centre) is this:

It’s bloody hard to make a living wage and sustain income in a writing and publishing career – even for the most well known, best selling and industry-backed writers. To make a living from the craft and business of writing, you need to diversify into other forms of media, channels and platforms – not just publishing and selling books.

Is it madness to want to have a career in writing and publishing?

I have only really been on the self publishing/ publishing scene really since the release of my first book. That was only 6 months ago (1 November) – yet I guess in reality, I started researching and considering what I needed to do if I aspired to write and publish, in March 2013 when I came up with the crazy idea to write my story.

In any case, as a (relative) brand newbie to book and publishing world, perhaps this has been an advantage -not knowing the mechanics and realities of how hard, demoralising it actually is – and how skinny the rewards and returns can be.

I push on regardless with my business and marketing hat on, being guided by the gems I pick up in my writer/ publisher education and determined that I might just cut through by being a little bit naive and off centre as I carve my own path for my work.

Reality IS biting though – about the money aspect. Yes, financial reward is important to me and a key success marker – because we all need money to not only live and pay bills, but to continue to write, create and inspire with our work. After a solid 6 months of putting off seeking work from my usual profession, (and recovering from the writing and publishing efforts of the last few years) I have now tuned into the clear and unmistakable message from industry veterans and those who have ‘made it’ on the publishing scene (this year).

Here is my reality: I should not expect to live off the efforts of my writing at the moment or any time soon. If I do not want to lose my  house and want to continue to invest in being a writer and self publisher – I have to diversify my writing activities and get paid work immediately. And, I will – but right now, I need to keep plodding. I am making great headway, but it’s a ways to being able to sustain myself. 

Here are some of the wins.

Reason to continue and persist

  1. It’s early days – I’m not going to give up after only 2 years and 6 months of focus. I am reminded by others that it’s only early days and I am an infant in this new world. I am not yet worthy of being an overnight success am I? It won’t stop me trying.
  2. I am finding some places to fit into the writing and publishing world which is full of quirky creatives and inspired, hilarious and deeply talented people. I want to be one of them.
  3. My work as a marketer, communicator, sales person, writer and publisher is of high quality and standard. I know I have a lot of knowledge and now, experience to give in the future as an educator.
  4. Sheer determination and willingness to swallow my fear and charge on is reaping rewards. I should not stop now – I should keep going! I will!

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