Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | August 29, 2014

Self-Publishing Goals Vs. Reality

Reality_1920x1200_by_pyxelatedAbout 15 years ago, I had a pretty decent shot of getting traditionally published with my first novel, The Starchild.

15 years ago.

1999-2000.

That was when I was in my mid-20s and feeling pretty gung-ho about myself. I figured that I could accomplish something worthwhile so that I could show all the naysayers and pessimists who kept dogging me for the better part of my life that…yes, I could do something! Will you kindly shut up now?!?

In my life experience, getting people to understand what you’re trying to accomplish (in terms of life goals) is a lot more harder than it looks. Since I chose my profession to be a writer and a hopeful author sometime this century (and no, I’m not kidding on that front), people have become less interested in what I’m doing and more interested in giving me the third degree on pretty much everything I’ve tried to accomplish or set out for myself because in this life, everyone is expecting me to be either insanely successful or stupidly rich beyond measure.

But when I’m bumping along from one minimum-wage job to the next and not advancing at all in my career choices (it’s hard when you’re not a kiss ass like everyone else), people start to look at you differently and treat you just the same; like you’re damaged goods or something.

It’s even worse when you don’t have the same lofty ambitions as say the guy who works as a mechanical engineer at Boeing versus the guy who is just getting out of college and trying (again) to find a better job than something that is less than minimum wage.

So…as such, my life hasn’t been all that exciting. Or fulfilling. I’ve been stuck doing the same thing over and over for the past 15 years and nothing has come to fruition. What’s worse, is that I don’t have a job to speak of and the prospects of finding one is less than the same odds in winning the lottery on a $1 ticket.

Or waking up the next day and finding out that you’ve been accepted by a major house to publish your book.

None of those things are in my immediate future. No job, no publishing contract, no lottery winnings, no nothing.

Just absolutely nothing. And the reason I say this is because my situation–as it is–isn’t going to change in the next several years, possibly longer.

Because there are no opportunities out there for me to advance. Not when you’re living on so little money and having to prioritize things once again to make sure that everything you need and have is met. The base existence and nothing more.

So as things have changed and times have changed, I find myself looking hopeful again that I can at least get something on the board in the coming years. It would be so easy to ask people for money to help me accomplish my dreams through some lofty Kickstarter campaign and get the ball rolling then, but as I’ve already stated, not too many people know what I’m trying to accomplish. When you’ve shown no encouraging results from your past attempts, people begin to question why they must do it all over again. Especially to someone like myself who isn’t going to be doing much but sitting on his butt, drinking lemon tea with juice, watch the world go by, and write his books.

Novels that few people will end up reading in the end.

So my goals in getting self-published in 2014–or even earlier–is dust in the wind. I mean, I could just self-publish now, but the truth is, none of my books are even remotely edited. And as I’ve seen in many self-published books of the past 7 years online–and in print form–books without a hint of professional editing or whatever, don’t tend to sell at all.

Especially when they don’t have a good cover to them.

So I could self-publish everything I’ve been writing for the past 20 years, but it wouldn’t avail me anything. Or you anyways. Because my reading audience would pick up on that fact and clue me in on how bad everything is, how many grammatical errors there are (more than the industry standard allows) and so I wouldn’t make enough money to buy a single loaf of bread or a gallon of milk in terms of combined royalties.

I just wouldn’t.

But 15 years have passed and I find myself writing my novels and not thinking about the urgency in getting something out within the next two or three years. I just don’t have the urge. And it’s not just because I don’t have money or an online presence to speak of (or a reading audience for that matter), I just find myself growing tired of the whole thing.

I’ve put so much effort trying to make people understand my position and my own ambitions, that I’ve left nothing else in reserve to fall back on. I simply don’t have the energy anymore.

I’m tired most of the time. And as such, time goes by and I still don’t have anything to showcase. And I’m not getting any younger either. With each passing decade, I find myself just less interested in the process and more focused on basic survival than anything else.

I stopped thinking about the fame and fortune game years ago when I lost my chance at becoming traditonally published after 9/11 hit.

So…self-publishing seems to be the only game in town. But for me, I still want to make something of an impression on people and I want to do it right. But as I’ve said before, I lack money and resources to do it. People tell me too many times that self-publishing is cheap and inexpensive, but you tell that to someone like me who has trouble scrounging up enough money to buy a decent pair of shoes every eight months, and you’ll soon discover that the process isn’t as cheap and inexpensive as one is led to believe, okay?

Because in my world and in my profession, I want to have a decent cover for my books and a professional edit for my novels before I sell them to the general public. I do not want to end up like those tens of thousands of self-published authors who have forsaken both because they were impatient.

So when I say that one of my novels won’t be available until 2026 or later (or never), I’m not saying this to piss interested people off. I’m simply gauging what I can do now versus what I can accomplish for later. I have to weigh in my options just like everyone else and act on them in kind.

But the truth is, without a stable source of income to propel me forward towards my goals, or anything else for that matter, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

I’m going to be stuck in this one gigantic holding pattern until my situation changes–for better or worse. I wish I could give people better news, but there hasn’t been any better news in a good long time.

Of course, some people will think–after reading this–that I’m not making any effort to change things, to take charge of the situation, but the truth is, I’m not assertive enough, nor am I aggressive enough.

I never wanted things badly like some of you have in the past, people who are driven to succeed at the cost of everything else. For me, my life has been empty of want and needs, but the desires are still there. I still dream of things, of better days ahead of me, but realistically-speaking? It’s not going to happen anytime soon. Not this year or the next, or the following year after or in 2018.

Because the opportunities that were there in the past that kept me and my life on an even foundation is now gone. And what’s left isn’t worth writing home about. So I’m stuck in a rut for the time being. I have been like this for awhile now. And not because I’ve grown complacent and lazy, but because I’m watching the world and I’m seeing how things are changing and how things are impacting a whole population of people, and I don’t see how their situation is going to change any better than mine is at the moment.

I wish I could just go out there and grab things by the horns, but in truth, it’s not who I am. I am a passive individual. I don’t go out there and take the initiative like so many people I’ve watched (and failed at) have, I just wait. I’ve made a career of waiting. And watching. And observing.

Because when you’re in a holding pattern, you begin to see things differently. For the past five years, I’ve been waiting. I’ve been in a holding pattern. I’ve also been struggling to get my life back on track. And having no job doesn’t help matters much, but when you’ve been out of work for as long as I have and have nothing to really offer to prospective employers, your chances of getting a job is so diminished, it’s not even worth thinking about.

And yes, I’ve thought about college too, but the truth is, I would find myself back where I started 15 years ago after I got out of college the second time and discovering the hardened truth about how employers treat the college-trained graduates like me. (It’s not pleasant or pretty.)

So when you’re faced with that and so many other challenges, your options of advancement is severely limited and you have to start thinking realistically what you can actually do versus what everyone else around you expects you to do.

And I for one would rather do the things I’m capable of than do the things that society demands I do out of some sort of misplaced sense of hierarchical methodology that pits the strong against the weak for a bid at the top rung of the sociological ladder.

But as I’ve said, I’m surrounded by impatient people. By parties who don’t value individual accomplishments, but are more consumed by the acquisition of money, power, and status. By how they see people like me even.

So unless you’re really pressed for time, you’re just going to have to stick things out a little bit longer than planned. Because I have no intention of rushing things. I could–realistically–wait out the rest of my life until the very end to get something going.

Seriously, another fifteen year wait wouldn’t faze me. I’ll be 55 then and probably homeless and living on the streets with only the clothes on my back to sustain me. I couldn’t tell you for certain. But what I do know is that for now, I have nothing waiting in the wings–but just a bunch of unpublished books.

And it could very well be that I’ll never publish or self-publish. I keep seeing myself just writing and not doing anything because the color has gone from my life and all I’m doing is nothing to advance my situation in any way.

And when that happens–the common sense approach is to cut everything loose and salvage what you can. Start over from scratch.

In the business world, it would be called a lay off. In the working world, it would be called a termination. But whatever you want to call it, it would simply be simple dead wood. Drift wood.

And from my experience, nobody is really interested in that–leaving my reality very much in doubt for any hopes of change.

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