There’s this conversation that always happens when you put myself and some of my writerly friends together in a room. It’s the ‘what we do has value, we have value’ conversation.
It can take many forms. Sometimes it’s the ‘This industry is so broken’ conversation, sometimes it’s ‘Hey, my royalties bought me a coffee this month!’ said with sadness-tinged humour, sometimes it is a straight-up talk along the lines of ‘Why do we do this?’ or ‘How do we fix this?’ or ‘Look, this is how much I made last year — am I a failure?’
It’s a conversation that wears many faces, and touches on different aspects of the thing, but at its center it’s about worth and value.
Partly it’s about money because, like it or not, our society does judge people based on how much money they make and we are a part of our society. And I, personally, make far, far less working in publishing full time than I would if I had a part time job making minimum wage.
That’s just a fact.
I’ve been doing this full time for… oh, ten, twelve years now? I have not one, but two ego shelves full of books I’ve had a hand in creating (contributed to, written, edited or published). I work hard. Hard. 40 or more (usually more) hours a week, every week. And I would make more money working at McDonalds part time.
But it’s not just about money.
This job is tough. It erodes you. People talk about needing to have a thick skin to work in publishing, but that’s not really accurate. You need to have a thick skin, and armor, and a shield, and… you get the idea.
Or do you?
If you work in publishing you probably have an idea of how it goes, but in case you don’t, let’s look at just a wee part of the life cycle of a book…
You write the book — in itself a huge feat — but you get it done. And edited. And polished up to be as good as you can make it. The first time you do this probably takes years. After that, when you get more practiced you may be able to do it in months.
You start submitting the book — maybe you’re querying agents, maybe you’re pitching it to publishers. Whoever you are submitting your book to you’re going to start collecting rejections. Probably a lot of rejections. A lot of people saying no — some more kindly than others. A lot. Rejection %s will change depending on what specific path you take here but they will be high.
But then, Hallelujah! Someone says yes and agrees to publish your book. You get the contract and everything looks good (though sometimes you get the contract and it’s obvious you’re being preyed upon and you have to go back to submitting…) so you sign it and you’re on your way. Yay! The rejections can stop, right?
After you go through the editing process (which can definitely feel grueling, especially if it’s your first time through) you finally have a finished product. Your book. Yay!
Now you need to get blurbs for it. And reviews. So you try giving it away. You pay people (Goodreads, NetGalley, BookSprout) to help you give it away… but for every 20 people you ask only 1 accepts a copy of your book. The one you worked so hard for. The one you put your heart on the line for. The one you cried for. And then, of the hundred or so people you are finally able to get to accept a (free) copy of your book only 1 leaves a review for it after they read it.
But at least you got a couple reviews, right? So that’s a tiny victory. But now it’s time to sell your book. The one you struggled to give away…
And that’s as far down that road as we’re going to go in this blog post. And every path is different — not just for every author but for each specific book — but you see it, don’t you? How every step of the way we’re dealing with rejection in crazy amounts. With disheartening situations.
I think, no matter how confident someone may be when they start down that road, it eats away at you. And then when we reach the end of that path and our book is out in the world and we’re promoting it and hoping it will find its audience what do we do? We start writing the next book and do it all over again…
Is it worth it? For me, right now, it is because I’ve met some amazing, amazing people in these word trenches that I’m proud to call friends. But it’s still hard. And I still feel the need to qualify my answer to questions like ‘Is it worth it’ with ‘for now’. Yes, for now. Because you never know…
Which brings me to why I started a Patreon. I started a Patreon to slow the ride, or at least add an extra layer of padding between my skin and my armor. The trickle of money will be nice, there’s no doubt about it, but I’m most excited about the possibility that the next time I’m feeling down and questioning the value of these things I do I’ll be able to look at my Patreon and say, “It’s tough, this path I’ve chosen, but look, Rhonda. These five, ten, thirteen people, they think what you’re doing has value enough that they are supporting it not just verbally, but financially.” And that will be huge.
But I’m also terrified that I’ll announce this, that I will try to make this Patreon work, and I’ll fail, and that rejection will hurt the hardest.
I hesitated even to type that because I don’t want it to sound like a guilt trip but I promised real talk from the very first line of this post, and that’s it. Real talk. The realest talk.
Some people’s Patreons make them thousands of dollars a month and while that would be amazing I’m not foolish enough to think it’s reasonable for me and my audience. My dream is to reach 50 patrons and whatever numbers of dollars a month that equals ($150?).
And I feel weirdly greedy and unrealistic when I say that? Even though I’ve created some great reward tiers for people who sign up to support me over there.
Patronage begins at $1 a month and will get you access to exclusive stories, poems, audio books, polls (to pick what I work on next), behind the scenes content and see cover and TOC reveals before the general public.
Other tiers reward patrons with advance copies of my ebooks, signed paperbacks, my editing your stories, surprises in the mail and more.
If you’re even a little intrigued please check it out here –> https://www.patreon.com/RhondaParrish
Pledges aren’t billed until the end of the month so you can try it out for free for nearly three weeks and see if you feel I’m offering you enough value for your money before the time comes to be charged. Like a free trial.
For the foreseeable future I will be moving most of my blogging over there (calls for submissions and such will be available to the public, not just my patrons). I’ll mirror calls for submissions and such here for now as well, I would eventually like to move all my blogging to Patreon so everything is all in one place but I have issues giving up control of my blog so we’ll see what happens — which side of my brain wins this battle.
In the meantime, thank you for reading this — whether or not you checked out my Patreon link. Every acceptance is a win, and you reading all the way to the end of this very long, somewhat depressing, post is definitely an acceptance, and I appreciate you making the road a wee bit smoother. <3