So where does the optimism come in?
We'll, it's in that part of me that writes and seeks to write on a professional level to the point where my family is not only comfortable, but that my income will be such that my kids don't have to touch a dime of student loans for their higher education. See, I don't just want this; it's not some passing fancy; I BELIEVE with the firmest conviction that this will come to pass. That is optimism in the truest sense of the word.
The world of publishing does not look kindly on fiction writers. It is a Darwinian jungle where survival of the fittest doesn't even come close to being an accurate description. The food chain out there in publishing land is a constantly changing food chain where yesterday's apex predictor is today's carrion for the hyenas and vultures. And that's just if you're looking at traditional publishing. I'm one of those naive, starry-eyed dreamers who dove into the sea serpent infested waters of the Indie book revolution. Being a part of that world is a wake up call to the nature of publishing.
Because I'm my own publisher, I can log into my profile in Amazon's KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing, any time I want and check my sales numbers. (Yeah, so I do it a lot...like really a lot...chain smokers got nothing on me...but that's a blog post for another day...) So, I can see just how much I am...or more to the point...am not selling at any moment. Yeah, that's a kick in the teeth...over, and over, and over again. Those numbers don't care about how I feel. They just stare back at me, giving me an up-to-the-moment dose of harsh reality.
And yet I keep plugging away, promoting myself, tweet by tweet, blog post by blog post, struggling to keep up with market changes, all while figuring out how to scrape together some time to get that next book written. Everyday the world reminds me why it is that so many writers, especially Indie writers, don't make it. On the lucky days, I'm just getting my teeth kicked in. Sometimes, it's just a swift ball-peen hammer to the groin.
Here's a sobering statistic: Last year about this time, the average eBook sold four copies a month. I'm sure it's much lower than that now. That number was taking into account writers like J.K. Rowling, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, and even breakout Indie writers such as John Locke and Amanda Hawking. Think of all copies of A Dance with Dragons George RR Martin sells per month to maintain a foothold in the top 100 books sold in the Kindle store...and that's just one book. Now, think of all the books that don't sell any thing for the average to be four.
Yeah, that's a sobering thought.
And still, I persevere. I keep going. Failure is not an option. To succeed in this game, you can't be a half-empty kind of person. Hell, you can't even be a half-full kind of person. You need to be the kind of person who takes a look at that glass that has 50% of its volume containing liquid and 50% of its volume containing air, take a good long look at it, then grab that glass, power slam however much that 50% of it that's liquid is, slam that glass down on the bar top, look that bartender right in the eye, and say, "The glass is all empty! Give me another, only make it a double."