Dollar signs. Six figure incomes while working from the comfort of your own home. Having your work beloved by thousands, dare say millions of paying fans.
That’s every author’s dream, isn’t it?
That’s what books and YouTube videos like to tell us. Experts on self-publishing claim that any indie author can improve their return on investment if they just follow these (insert number here) marketing steps. Other indies are able to do it, so why can’t you?
What those “experts” don’t tell you is that their secret recipe for success doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, some quick-tip books and videos may offer bits of sound marketing advice, but most of them fail to focus on the most important element: making our mental health a greater priority than the money we’re seeking to make.
You Can’t Take it With You
Making money is a top priority of indie authors for a variety of reasons. We may rely on it as a rainy day fund. We may want to earn money to put towards our children’s college education. Maybe we seek to quit our day-jobs and make a living off of something we enjoy doing instead.
But, in the end, our lives are short. We could spend the greater part of our lives hustling away, trying to snag dollars every chance we get, and end up missing out on so many other joys life has to offer.
Yes, as an indie author, I would love to make six-figures from my books someday. And yes, I work my tail off during my free time to get closer to that goal. But I’ve also fallen prey to the dark side of marketing the experts never mention. Those days where you have full-blown panic attacks because those proven marketing efforts aren’t working for your books. Those days where you have a terrible morning at your day job and you cry in your car at lunch because your books are commercial flops that will never provide a stable source of income.
Consuming marketing media can be a useful tactic for gaining information on making money as an author, but it fails miserably in teaching authors how to balance the expectations of marketing success with mental health. They tell you how to make money—the world’s perceived root of happiness—but neglect to remind authors that true happiness and fulfillment are not derived from a fat paycheck.
Because you’re high-strung from hustling to make your author career as good as it can get, you may have snapped at your loved ones when they interrupt your work flow. You may have had to say no to hanging out with others because you’re swamped with plans to grow your sales. When your significant other is sitting next to you, your mind may drift to anxieties of how to increase that royalty check.
Life is short, my friend. We’re not promised our next breath. We practically drive ourselves mad trying to prepare for the unknown future that we oftentimes take for granted who and what we have in our lives now.
Remember Scrooge in A Christmas Carol? He chased money for years, drove everyone who cared about him away, and lived a joyless life all because he was obsessed with monetary gain.
The only way Scrooge overcame his greedy nature was to have a come-to-Jesus meeting of sorts with his mentality through the help of the three spirits. He learned that the constant pursuit of money will leave you lonely and dead inside. And, as the Ghost of Christmas Future showed him, he couldn’t take it with him.
My fellow indies, I challenge you to take a deep breath and evaluate your current mental health state. Have your efforts to enhance your career been helping or hindering your happiness lately?
If you’re not happy right now, you’re not alone. Please know that you are a special creation of God and that your books are worth more than money. You have contributed meaningful art to the world, and it is perfectly fine to find joy in that alone.
Even if you’re not making a dime, if one person on this planet loves your book, even if it’s just you, you’re still a successful author. Keep writing.
How do you balance your mental health and book marketing? Please share in the comments!