Coming up with new blog post ideas every weekend is always a pain in the ass. But this week, Amazon made it easy for me. They gave me an assignment. They sent me an email explaining that...
"During the month of October, Amazon will be celebrating great writing self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, and ACX."
... and that I could gain exposure for my own work by blogging about why I love being an indie author. Any of the six of you who read this blog regularly know that I'm a huge proponent of self-publishing. My feelings on the matter haven't exactly been a secret. But as I'm a person who recognizes the value of exposure, I'm more than willing to repackage my thoughts and try to come at them from a different angle.
So that brought me to the titular question. It's one we've all asked ourselves. What would you do for a million bucks?
Would you murder someone?
Would you fuck a dude? (provided you're not already oriented toward fucking dudes)
Would you eat a bucket full of live roaches?
Hypothetical millionaires looking to part with chunks of their fortune are into some fucked-up shit.
What do all of those "Would you..." questions have in common?
1. They all involve a short unpleasant task that will end, leaving you set for life (so you think).
2. None of them are ever going to happen.
Here's a more realistic question.
Would you be willing to work your ass off for years, forsaking those precious few hours of free time you get from your daily obligations that you'd normally spend giving your exhausted brain a much needed rest, learning shit you'd just as soon not know about market research and self-promotion, ignoring the condescending remarks of naysayers and your own crippling self doubt, all the while knowing in the back of your sleep-deprived mind that your efforts may amount to nothing in the end?
If you answered "Fuck yes!" then I've got good news for you.
For those of you who don't know me, hi. My name is Robert Bevan, and I'm a proud self-published author of hilarious fantasy/comedy/LitRPG books.
I invite you to imagine, if you will, that all industries functioned like the publishing industry has until very recently, allowing five or six companies to determine what goods were deserving to be offered for public consumption, and what goods would never get beyond the shitty idea stage. I'm asking you to imagine a world without Snuggies.
For many of you, perhaps the vast majority even, Snuggies have not played a hugely important role in your lives, and you may not be so shaken at the thought of a world without them. That's okay. What's important is that enough people care about Snuggies that they've made a huge difference in at least one person's life.
When Cornelius Rutherford Snuggie looked out at the world back in 1806 , he saw a problem with conventional blankets.
He thought, "What if I added sleeves and removed smallpox?" And with that, the seeds of the Snuggie fortune were planted.
Fast forward two centuries, and there I stood, peering out at the landscape of fantasy literature, and wondering what was missing. In a flash of inspiration, the answer struck me.
Now I can easily see why no "Big 6" publisher would want to touch a comic fantasy book with 324 uses of the word "fuck" in it. They have limited resources and shareholders to lose. They have to look at trends, do math, and back the books they feel have the highest potential to provide the biggest returns on their investments.
I, on the other hand, had a wife, two kids, and was barely scraping by month to month in a job with little-to-no advancement opportunity. I didn't have shit to lose.
Five years and many many fucks later, I'm writing this blog in the kitchen of the house I bought with the small amounts of money that thousands of people have been willing to spend to read about the continuing adventures of an alcoholic halfling, a naive elf, a boring dwarf, and a half-orc who constantly shits himself.
Can I claim to have a million bucks in the bank? Sure I can, if I'm lying. But I'm not going to do that, because what I have is much more valuable.
Think about what the aforementioned $1 million actually is. It's an unfathomably large amount of money that you'd get for fucking a dude or eating a bucket of roaches. Now think about what the sort of person who would fuck a dude or eat a bucket of roaches for $1 million is likely to do with said $1 million. I can't help but think that such a person might be less than responsible with their investments.
Judging by the countless stories of mega-celebrities and lottery winners who went on to be penniless, the chances are good that our hypothetical millionaire would blow through that money before they got the taste of cockroach (or just plain cock) out of their mouth.
On the contrary, my progression to the comfortable lifestyle I'm currently enjoying has been a gradual and hard-earned one. Success in self-publishing doesn't come easy. Subsequently, the successful self-publishers I've had the pleasure of interacting with have tended to be pretty responsible with the money they're earning from said successes.
What does it even mean to be a successful self-publisher? Different people will have different definitions for success, the bar being defined as significantly lower by those who aren't doing so hot at it. But for the purposes of this post, I'm defining it as being able to make a living at self-publishing alone.
By that standard, can anyone succeed at self-publishing? I don't have a definitive answer for that, but I would guess that there are multitudes more that have the potential than there are who are willing to go the lengths that success requires.
A lot of people who travel this path really suck at it. They write shitty stories, which they then promote shittily. The hardest part can be knowing what you suck at and taking the appropriate measures to suck less.
So what do I love about self-publishing?
I love the fact that it levels the playing field. Any schmuck with a yarn to spin can throw their work in with the big dogs, experiment with whatever marketing strategies their imaginations can come up with, and let the market decide what is worth reading.