Monday, September 22, 2014

Build Me Up

Photo by Sembazuru. Text added.
Creative Commons 2.0
Every once in awhile, I need a little encouragement. It's a hard road, the one that I've chosen to follow. Taking my writing seriously. Trying to make it into a career.

Last week, I had one of those moments of doubt. I was thinking about RoboNomics Book I, on +wattpad, and about how it's now had over 19,000 reads.

On the surface, it looks as though all of the feedback I've had has been positive. When I think back to the beginning of 2014, when only a writing instructor had read part of the story, it looks as though I've come a long way. I mean, it I was out for a proof of concept, I've definitely received that. When I think about how those 19,000 reads could have translated into 19,000 ebooks at $0.99 a piece, it's not a bad picture, is it?

However, when I look more closely at my stats, it's not sure a pretty picture. Over 11,000 of those reads are of the first chapter alone. Which, for me, means that being 'featured' on Wattpad has done its part: along with the book's cover and description, plenty of readers have been interested enough to 'crack open the cover', so to speak. But somewhere between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, I lose most of my readers. The numbers drop dramatically down to about 500 reads, and stay around that level for the rest of the book. So really my number should be more along the lines of 6,500 reads.

There's also the fact that there hasn't been the deluge. Many other authors on Wattpad, it seems, have crossed the million reads mark. They've got thousands of followers for simplistic works while I struggle to establish any sort of readership at all.

So last week it hit me. Am I doomed to be a 'mid-list' author? Not talented enough to be literary, not fluffy enough to be a pulp best-selling, I came to the conclusion that I am doomed to become lost in a crowded marketplace -- shouting into a gale -- my voice lost amid the clangor. And then the dreaded artistic circle of doubt began, which always ends up in the same place: why do I bother at all?

It's been a few days, so I have some perspectives on my situation. I can see that the readership on Wattpad clamours for a very specific sort of story -- or rather, a very specifically format of story. The sort I've been writing in my RoboNomics Book II. That story is having none of the number troubles of Book I. It has a consist readership of about 50 reads a chapter. So part of my Book I issue is that it needs a reformat.

The Chapters are also very long, and I can see how that first chapter could lose people very quickly. You have to stick with the story for a long time for any payoff, and so I'm looking into changing my chapters, minorly, so that one flows into the next in a way that demands that the next chapter be read. In short, I'm going to apply the lessons I've learned recently about serialization to this story.

In the meantime, there needs to be a remedy to this artistic despair I've found myself in. And so I've followed a piece of advice found in the Artist's Way, and gathered up some of my 'greatest hits' professional compliments, presented them nicely on pictures. This way, I'll have a set of personalized motivational posters in my back pocket that I can look at whenever I need a pick-me-up. A reminder that I don't totally and completely suck.