A guest post by Sam Knight.
Another day another dollar. Another year, another… Hmmm. A dollar. Yeesh! That’s about what it feels like. When did writing turn into a job? I didn’t sign up for this. Did I? I mean, I guess I did. I didn’t mean to. It was supposed to be fun.
Last year, I attended enough conventions that I actually lost count. Not like I went to a hundred or anything like that. I averaged a little over a convention a month—as a speaking guest, not an attendee or a vendor (although I was also an attendee and a vendor at most of them, too). There is a big difference in the drain on your personal energy. As much as going to conventions and meeting other writers and making new fans revitalizes me, staying in hotels, traveling, and being “always on” wears me out.
By the end of the con season, I actually skipped a couple of conventions. That really surprised me. The conventions were a major part of my personal goals for 2013. Heck, I even got to be on panels at both Denver and Salt Lake City Comic Cons! That was a personal goal I thought would take a lot longer to reach.
But it cost me. It drained me. I still have a family who wants me at home, kids I need to make arrangements for when I’m going to be gone, and money that hates me and runs away at the slightest hint I may have woken up.
I made most of my money by going to conventions and selling my books in 2013. Conversely, going to conventions was also my biggest expense. There is a tradeoff there, a give and take. But there was a hidden take I wasn’t seeing.
My word count, my writing production, suffered horribly. I can’t write while driving or speaking at conventions. I have met a couple of people who can, but I’m not one of them. The best I can hope for is a few flash fictions over coffee, or maybe a half of a short story.
But that is where the money really is—in my word count. The more I write, the more stuff I have to sell, and the more I sell… well, you get the point.
And I do need money to keep doing this. I am not independently wealthy, so I can’t afford to have this be the most expensive hobby ever. Even when my hotel and my vending booth are paid for by a convention, I still have expenses. And bills. And kids.
So that is what I am setting my goal for in 2014. Making money—by writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I intend to be perfectly reasonable about it. I have no delusions that I will sell a bazillion copies of anything. But I have also realized that I can’t keep pitching the same things I’ve already sold. I need more. I need a back catalogue. I need new fans to realize I have ten more things they want to buy. I need to write!
But then, I’ve been there before.
When I first started out, that’s what I did. I wrote. All the time. All by myself. And I felt like I needed to get out and meet people, go to conventions, meet other authors. And I did. Maybe too much. It kind of wore me out.
So for 2014, I plan on attending conventions, but maybe not quite as many. I plan on meeting other writers and getting together with those I already know, to revitalize my writing energy, but I will be more selective about where and when and how. And I am upping my writing game. I am going to find a way to get more work out there into the world.
When all is said and done, my goal in 2014 is to find balance. I want to find the sweet spot where I can write until I’m ready to take a break, yet still be able to take the break because I don’t have three things due already. I want to go to conventions, yet still feel giddy about going. I want to be able to run things like a small business, yet still think of myself as a writer. I want to stop thinking “Ach! When did this become a job! It was supposed to be fun,” and start thinking “This is a job? How fun!”
Guest Writer Bio: