Is self publishing a hobby?

Well, I published this hulking ungainly novel on Amazon almost a month ago and I have netted a staggering four sales!

I’m not surprised by the the low sales since I’ve done zero marketing. In fact I have almost no idea how to “market”. At first I thought, “I gotta make a website,” then later I decided with much grumbling to make a twitter. I made one and then… never used it.

If you’re gonna market your product, you need to be unabashed, but I got this problem where I’m super bashful. More telling though is that I don’t really believe in Hand Hunters as a product. I can do better, I know I can. This book isn’t really worth any more sweat and blood. I’ve given it enough already.

Part of the real reason I published it rather than just let it molder away on my hard drive was to force myself to stop working on it and move on to better projects. And I have.

What I’m wondering is if I’ve learned anything from the experience. In someways it confirmed my opinion of self publishing. Mainly that it’s not a quick road to success, but rather just another possible dead end.

Sometimes you gotta ask yourself, is this a hobby? When I really look at myself and my many scattered interests I see a man stumbling from one shiny object to another. Whether it be or the novel written above, or this very website. Are these just hobbies? The optimistic American within me insists that I keep going, keep fighting, keep searching, but the realist in me argues that I’ve hit a wall that will never break. And the wall is as much myself as it is the marketplace.

Anyone who is a creator is essentially an entertainer. Right now, we all face some stiff competition and treacherous conditions. If you’re a visual artist you have to understand that the value of your images might be fleeting. Scroll down your Facebook feed and check how many images you see (of any kind: photos, company logos, other artists peddling their images). How long does it take to scroll by? How many tenths of a penny did Spotify pay your band to play your song? How many thousands of books are published on Amazon?

It’s a deluge of entertainment, and a lot of it’s free. And the marketplace is full of millions of others who are just as smart and talented as we believe ourselves to be. And most of them are giving their stuff up for free too.

Generally speaking most of the creators (whether they be musicians, illustrators, writers or whatever) I know get stuck somewhere. And despite what Disney movies might tell you, trying really hard and wanting something a whole lot won’t necessarily reap you tangible rewards. Working hard may in fact get you nothing. It’s the risk.

On the flip side though, if you’re a creative person you gotta spend your free time somehow. There’s nothing wrong with imposing your own trickle of creative juice into an already swirling maelstrom. There are no bars to the actual activity of creation. If I wake up in the morning to write, there’s really nothing better. And to be frank, even if the actual rewards are diminishing (for most of us. There’s always the lucky ones who “make it”) it has never been easier to push your product out into the marketplace.

Right now, for me, it’s still just a hobby. Someday maybe it’ll be more.


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