That’s the much more polite version of what I found myself wanting to say more than once this weekend. I was visiting a good friend and her spouse and the spouse–who was once incredibly successful but basically hasn’t done much in the last seven years–kept talking to me about how he’s going to write a best-selling non-fiction book.
He hasn’t really started writing it yet, but if he does decide to self-publish he knows who’ll design the cover and edit it. And he talked to an agent who said it sounded interesting so of course he already has an agent lined up and could easily sell it to a trade publisher if he decided to go that route. One of the big five, of course.
Really, the world is his oyster. All he has to do is bother to write the book because, of course, once it’s out there everyone will want to buy it. Then again, he doesn’t really want to be an author, it’s just his way of getting access to certain key people who will allow him to do what he really wants to do which is be a venture capitalist.
Now, maybe he’s absolutely right. He has had two successful careers, no reason he couldn’t be successful in a third. And maybe he would put enough money into the launch and has the right connections to get the book seen by the right people and genuinely does have something truly interesting to say that will let that book take off.
It’s possible. (Not likely, but possible.)
I can’t say for sure. Because he hasn’t written it. And shows no signs of doing so.
Lord knows I haven’t approached my writing with a career mindset. I’m all over the board with what I write–non-fiction, fantasy, romance. I have yet to publish a series in my fiction. I never followed up on my most successful romance series. And I do it under different names so that even if someone liked one of my books, they can’t actually find the others.
So I can’t say to him, well, I’ve struggled at this, so you obviously will, too. (I mean, I, too have been very successful in the past. But that was at a different game with different rules. You can borrow lessons from the business world for your writing, but at the end of the day your writing makes or breaks you if you want this to be a long-term, sustainable thing.)
But, I do know one thing.
This guy will not have his bestselling book if he doesn’t actually write it.
As much as I’ve messed this whole thing up, I have actually written a damned book. And published it. And advertised it. And researched how all this works. (So I know that one casual conversation with an agent does not an offer of rep make.)
And slowly, very slowly, I’ve made progress. I’ve improved with each project. I’ve learned. My covers are better. I now advertise my books regularly. I’m focusing on what works and doing more of it.
I think I posted a while back about being excited that I’d made at least $50 per month for a year from my writing. Now I should (barring any weirdness) be about to close out a year of making $250 per month or more from my writing. And I will finally, after too long, be publishing the last in a series next month and be able to really advertise that and see if it can gain traction now that it’s done.
So, as someone who has worked at this for a while (I can’t say worked hard because the number of hours I put in daily compared to my old day job don’t compare), when I cross paths with someone like that I just want to throttle them. Because there is this attitude I see far too often in our society of “oh, I could do that” from people who never do anything.
You know what? You can do that? Then do it. Go out there and show the world how it’s done. But don’t sit on your couch doing nothing and criticizing those who are actually out there doing the thing that you can’t be bothered to do.
(That is the generic you, of course, not you readers of this blog who are actually out there trying to learn something and move forward.)