Around a year ago, I was just a few days away from starting a new job at Amazon. I’d resigned my Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) contract with the Army to do this – a cushy public sector job which may or may not have allowed me to write during work time (I’ll let you guess, I’m still a serving Reservist!).
I’d been writing for almost 10 months by that point and had drafted 5 novels in that time. I would have loved to have quit my FTRS job to write. I wasn’t fulfilled by my army job (hence the writing), I wanted to get out. Amazon offered an escape route, so I took it.
After the early days at Amazon where I went into a blind panic and convinced myself I wasn’t up to the job, I settled into my role and I actually enjoyed it (see blog posts in Oct-Dec 2022 for more on this). What I didn’t enjoy was working 40+ hours a week (at night), and trying to be a mum, and trying to write, and trying to command a division as a part-time reservist and trying to renovate my house. So I cracked. Almost literally so. Not for the first time in my life either; I knew the signs. I think I was close to imploding into a gooey heap on the floor. So I hit the big red button and quit.
I was going to become a writer, everything was going to be rainbows and unicorns, pigs would fly through the sky, and we’d cheer them as they went past.
LOL. Literally, in this case. I chuckled to myself as I wrote the last sentence. I had to convince myself it could work, otherwise, how could I justify giving up a regular full-time salary to get fluctuating sums of who knows what from the Army Reserve every month?
It’s not the first time I’ve deluded myself like this, it probably won’t be the last. But anyway…
A few weeks into my job at Amazon I’d finished book number 6. I worked to get books 4, 5 and 6 edited and some covers sorted. I managed to get them published in March, April and May of this year. My trilogy is out. Yippee!!! And now the money is rolling in. LOL. Louder this time.
I’ve spent around £10k getting 3 books to market. I’ve spent a few hundred quid on advertising. As of today, I’ve made £336.59 in royalties. I’ve spent way more on advertising than I’ve made in sales – the outlay to get the books to market isn’t even being touched. Let alone the thousands of hours I’ve spent working on the damned things.
I’m evolving as a writer. I’m evolving quickly. If you’ve seen the film ‘Evolution’ starring David Duchovny, you’ll know that the little alien things that land on Earth progress through the various stages of evolution ridiculously quickly. I’m like the writer’s version the aliens in Evolution. After around just 22 months, I think I’m just about maturing into a pragmatic, realistic writer.
I’m not going to make my millions (any time soon). I’m not going to sell thousands of books (yet). It’s going to take years to make my money back, if at all. But so what? Do I do it for the money? A little, maybe. But hell, pretty much every writer will tell you they’d love to make a living out of writing books. Few will do it for the love alone and give everything away for free.
But, but, but, I could make a decent living. It’s possible. I just need to keep going. I released books 4, 5 and 6 of my series first; just like George Lucas released episodes IV, V and VI first in Star Wars. I’m not sure why he did it, but I did it partly because I knew book 1 was fundamentally flawed and I wasn’t ready to take an axe to it just yet (the axe has well and truly fallen now - its virtually a new book, see blog post from 15th June), and partly because if I started with my second trilogy, it would give me a second opportunity to start my series.
Book 1 is still to be released into the public domain, which gives me options. I can try to get an agent or a publisher. I can build on what I’ve learned from releasing books 4, 5 and 6 and put that knowledge to good use for the next three. I can use the social media following I’ve built to help create excitement for the next release.
I’ve chilled the f**k out, I’m no longer deluded that I’ll be an overnight success. I’m happy to take a bit more time getting to where I want to be. I’ve evolved as a writer. I’m in a better place than I was. It’s a place I’m content to stay in for a while as I get my ducks lined up and work out exactly how I’m going to take things forwards. Meanwhile, my home renovation project might actually start to get some attention.
Charlotte Goodwin is the author of the Gallantrian Legacy series. A set of six books (and counting) set in a universe where magic is real, there's just not much of it on Earth.