Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | May 1, 2014

A Chilling Glimpse Into The Future As A Self-Published Author

lonely_road_by_pajunen-d5gonphAs I traveled down the years as an unknown writer, I started to see bits and pieces into the world of publishing and self-publishing, and the evolution of social media. At first, I had the thought that time is really on my side. That I can do this–if given enough time.

But the horrifying truth to my quest to becoming published in any form has led to one inescapable conclusion: I don’t think I’m going to make it.

I’m 40 years old now. I started my pursuits to becoming published in my early twenties. And through that time, I’ve seen and heard a lot. Seen a lot of changes.

But these days, those changes are starting to manifest itself into serious obstacles and roadblocks to my continued pursuits in becoming self-published. I can pretty much write off traditional publishing because of a number of factors, but what’s really going to be the game-changer is whether or not I’m going to have any such audience when I’m finally ready.

And I’m talking not in the next few years either. But quite possibly another decade.

Money isn’t just in short supply for me, it’s woefully non-existent. At this point in time, I don’t know when I’m going to be able to land a job. I may never land a job. But the other thing I’ve been seeing is the sudden and inexplicable changes in the way social media has been working for the past five years.

I use Facebook a lot. But unfortunately–since the company went public in 2012–my posts are no longer seen by a bunch of people that I used to collaborate with. In fact, the number of people who used to see my posts has shrunk by more than 80%. I no longer have the reach that I used to.

Which is primarily one of the reasons why I’ve stopped posting and updating about my books.

There’s just no interest. And when you don’t have any interest from people on Facebook–or anywhere else for that matter–your future as an author is very much in grave doubt.

So where does leave me and my career as a writer?

Well, as bleak as things are now, I can only imagine that things are going to get progressively worse as time goes–as social media stops being “social” and becomes nothing more than one giant advertising block for the site’s sponsors.

Even sites like Figment and Watt Pad are suffering from the same problem: There’s just no social engagement on a literary level for anyone. And it leaves a lot of us writers mutually frustrated.

Even blogging doesn’t help, because your target audience is so damned small to begin with. You just don’t have the reach or scope as say someone who is famous or a New York Times bestseller. And in this world of theirs, everything boils down to a simple numbers game.

That’s all it’s become.

So against that backdrop, I’m not going to last much longer at the rate I’m going. But if and when I get around to publishing my books (I’m having debates right now on whether or not I should), there may not be enough people out there to really care if there is a new book coming out or not–especially if that author’s online presence has been corrupted and destroyed by the very forces put out there to support and prop him up in the first place.

As it stands, I know for fact I’m not going to make a living off my work. I’ve been accepting this as my reality for the past couple years–more so in recent months–because of the disparities in social networking and what it has transformed itself into lately.

Unfortunately, I do not see another social networking site popping up anytime soon to replace Facebook and return to us burgeoning writers a real social networking platform where money and greed doesn’t play into the politics of just wanting to reach out to people and connect.

The irony is that I’ve been with both Twitter and Facebook since they got started five years ago. And from what I’ve been discovering, they’ve been losing users by the boat load lately.

I still don’t know why I’m using both platforms since they’re practically useless to me. Maybe it’s because I’m still wanting to connect with people. But talking with them is another matter entirely.

I just don’t feel like it.

I’ve seen what happens to people when they are systematically ignored in cyberspace by the very people they are trying to reach out and it’s not a pleasant prospect to behold. I guess I’m just missing talking to people and shooting the moon.

But as the years roll by, I’m finding myself growing tired and weary of the whole thing. I thought that writing would bring me closer to people. But all its done is alienate them or drive them away.

Which leaves me wondering what I should do next: Continue on in obscurity, or quietly throw in the towel and get on with my life?

 

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Responses

  1. Why don’t you stop whining and try writing a good book. I’m 63, I just retired and am starting my career all over again. I’ve been writing since I was 13, through raising kids, working two jobs at times, dealing with elderly parents, the list goes on. It’s called “life” and some of us get more than our fair share. I just self-published two books and I don’t feel second class just because I did it myself. It feels totally liberating. Try seeing your glass as half-full for a change. And get off Fb! You should be writing.

    Denise

  2. Writing is an addiction. I’ve made numerous bad decisions because of my writing, all these brushes with “making it,” early correspondence with Scribner’s, awards, publications, prizes, Pushcart Prize nomination, and so on. I started at 10, and now I’m 60. You can imagine then, statistically, the number of “mistakes” I’ve made, decisions that could have put me in a better position financially. My latest work, Eight Billion Steps: My Impossible Quest For Cancer Comedy puts some of this in perspective. (We’re left marketing until the end.) You still have time (for what, only you can say).

  3. continue of course what have you left to lose, as poet who used a site to publish two ebooks, only to find if your not willing to pay for reviews, then you don’t rated and then you got no sales, no one is ever going to make aprofit from writing poetry I DO BECAUSE i LOVE IT, no point saying otherwise,and I will battle away using friends any site that I can, because it is my epitaph

  4. It will get better. That which makes our writing strong can drag us down. It is a two edged sword. =)


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