I'm always lurking in various writers' online forums. Sometimes I participate but mostly I observe. That sounds much creepier than it really is--trust me.
Lately I've seen an over-abundance of writers talking about the word "over-saturation" of the market place and lamenting their inability to gain any traction. This annoys me on many fronts, mainly because I've been making a living as a writer and editor for a long time now and don't like hearing such discouraging remarks that aren't necessarily true.
Here's the reality: Yes, this business is hard. No, not one person holds the magic key that will unlock your stardom. Yes, you need to think big picture at all times or else you will become frustrated. Yes, you need to try a lot of different things until you find what resonates with you--and, no, that may not be what your best writer buddy is doing. Yes, you need a thick skin. No, rankings that change by the hour aren't important. No, you probably won't be a one book wonder that takes the world by storm. No, you really don't need an agent to succeed. Yes, you do need an editor (even an editor needs an editor--there's nothing better than a second pair of eyes looking at your work objectively). Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will recover from whatever mistakes you're making (unless it's being an asshole or a plagiarist--those mistakes are almost impossible to recover from). No, just because you think you're creative on all fronts doesn't mean you can design your own cover--find an artist, preferably one who doesn't suck. No, you don't need to give your work away for free (this one is a pet peeve of mine--writers are artists and need to value their work).
Listen, you can do this. If writing is in your blood and is the passion that burns hot in your heart, you can do this. Publishing isn't a get rich quick scheme. You need to always be thinking big picture rather than being stuck on the small details (like rankings or reviews). I know too many authors who are making livings as such to be dissuaded by the people in the online forums talking about how the market is so over-saturated that they are considering giving up. I sometimes suspect that these people are posting to hear all the comments urging them not to quit--but I'm asking you not to be that person.
Yes, there are a lot of books out there, that's true. It can feel daunting to look at the abundance of new releases every day. If you happen to know a lot of authors, you may feel competitive about so-and-so's new release. Don't. Remember: quality over quantity.
Quality always rises to the top. Always. It may take time, but if this is truly your calling, you won't give up even if you are crippled with doubt from time-to-time. We all are. It's our nature as sensitive creators to feel doubt--which is why I'm bothered by these forums that are meant to support and only end up spreading discouragement.
Work on your craft. Concentrate on making each book better than the last one. Know your big picture goal. Don't rush yourself because of some imaginary competition going on. The only things you should ever be worried about is your own editorial calendar and being better than you were yesterday.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.