…as they used to say when there were old-fashioned newspapers. I have noticed that several of my recent blog-posts ended with exclamation marks, something that I hope to remedy in the New Year.

Starting today.

Before I forget (I have the attention span of a goldfish) I wanted to thank Patty Jansen of Must Use Bigger Elephants for letting me participate in her January 1 Mad Science Fiction and Fantasy sale. It was huge fun and I did sell some books.

I am also trying to set up a proper mailing list (link to proper mailing list) though apart from my blog(s) I will need something to put in it, other than “Aargh – still working on Winterbloom…”. A well-known online forum (coff coff) is full of writers who can produce books in 30 days, or in some cases an even shorter period. They advise frequent – and “smart” publishing.

Upon reading the thread in question, first I picked my jaw up off the floor, and secondly I thought…”I’m farked,” to put it in a slightly more polite version. And then I got depressed because, never in the best of times have I managed to turn out words that fast.

I would love to do it. And there’s no denying that it’s hard. But the bit that really depressed me was the advice to write to the market. To study the market and write what was popular.

Long, long ago when there was only trad publishing, the received wisdom was that you should never write to the market, because you could never second-guess what would be popular. Of course with the advent of self-publishing you can certainly see what is popular. You can study it in a very responsive way.

But…there is a hitch. In the past, whenever I have tried to write to order, it didn’t work. I couldn’t do it. I lost interest and wandered off. From the point of view of writing to the market, I’m stuffed.

This doesn’t mean that the writer of the post was wrong, with regard to what it takes to make a living from writing (and more) nowadays. It just means that I can’t do that, unless I can learn to do it.

They also referred to “outliers” – outstanding or exceptional writers such as J.K. Rowling or Anne Rice. But the word itself suggests why most writers, me included, can’t follow that path. You have to be exceptionally good, or popular, or both. On the evidence, I’m not an outlier (to say the least!). So perhaps I need to stop thinking that I am one (or could be one) and approach this in a more (ahem) businesslike manner.

Or…I could just accept that writing isn’t going to be a source of significant income, in any way whatever. I started self-publishing in May 2013, and so far I have sold…not much. I have had many downloads of my free book, which is encouraging.

So…maybe it’s time to change my practice. Or if not…it’s time to stop worrying (and throwing good money after bad) and stick to writing for pleasure.

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