I recently stumbled on a great post, Confessions from the Underground World of Kindle which brought to life an eternal internal dilemma: money or art?
Making money by Gaming the Amazon system
On one hand, we have entrepreneur-based writers who are gaming the Amazon kindle system, and making tons of money. From ghosting their books, to buying reviews, to analyzing market niches, the focus isn’t necessarily to have good content. I’ve picked up a couple of books with killer covers, great descriptions which are written so poorly, in broken English, I couldn’t read it.
If someone buys reviews, or puts out bad content, the whole quality of the system is compromised. They might be successful, but are they valuable?
Being a great and lonely writer
Another school of thought is to spend years on one novel, self-publish, and be happy if it sells a few copies and you get a nice review.
I remember a friend, an excellent painter, felt uncomfortable if someone wanted to buy a painting, or if she painted something because a subject/style was popular. She didn’t feel she was being true to her art. She died without money or recognition, a storage shed full of paintings which could have brought a lot of joy to the world, but didn’t.
Money vs Art dilemma
So this morning, I was staring at a stack of bills. I want my writing to be my only source of income, but it’s not quite there yet. I have a blueprint to ‘game’ the system. Thinking of doing that makes me, personally, uncomfortable, but I could do it.
I have an ability to write. It’s also sometimes difficult for me to show my work, and I tend to be a perfectionist. I know the more I write, the better I get.
Sipping champagne on a yacht with no sense of pride or happiness from knowing my work is valuable? Drinking instant coffee hoping the electricity doesn’t get turned off so I can re-tweak that last paragraph?
Bah to both.
A Better Way
Why not combine the best of both systems? There are plenty of prolific great writers who entertain, are smart, and successful. That’s the club I want to join.
I want to sip a nice whiskey, feeling a warm glow that my books are out there, with people who enjoy reading them, with a nice bank account full of money from a passive income. I want to be proud I am committed enough to my art to share it and be rewarded for it. I want to be unafraid to be an entrepreneur, use those cracklingly smart methods, without needing to game the system, but working the system honestly.
So, back to writing and publishing, with a stronger focus. Nice!