I'm not one of those writers who try to tell you how hard writing is - sure, there are a few stresses involved and there can be up days and down days, but in general, writing is easy. It's not like standing against a coal face and having to load it with dynamite. You sit down in a chair with a computer (and recently a cat) on your lap and a cup of coffee to the side, and you tap buttons to make words appear on a screen.
It's pretty straightforward.
Drafting, at least for myself, is the easy bit. The longer you get into a series and the more popular that series becomes, the harder it gets, because you're no longer writing for yourself, you're writing for the audience.
Still, first world problems.
It's still pretty easy.
Selling books, on the other hand, is a real pain in the ass. When you look at your sales dashboard on Amazon or Kobo or wherever, you get these little dopamine high and lows - woo, fourteen sales on that day, just one on that, a big fat zero over there, twenty-seven on that day but at 99 cents on an ad that cost $25 - I imagine that the peaks and troughs never go away no matter how well you're doing. You'll still have what you consider high days and what you consider low.
These days, eight long years in, less than five sales a day is low for me, over twenty high. Of course, with ads it all gets artificially inflated, and the income is random. I could sell twenty 99c books and make less than $5, or I could sell three copies of the Tube Riders Complete series and made $25.
You're forever rolling with the punches, and there are days when you wonder if it's really worth it.
I'm not making livable money, and apart from a couple of very brief months, never have done. Most months, I make a token amount just large enough to convince myself that it's worth carrying on.
However, you start to bank on certain things to work out, things that might make a real difference. Christmas is big this year for me, because a decent profit is the only way I can afford to take the family back home to England next summer. Last Christmas, I ran continuous ads on two books, one Slim Hardy book and one Christmas book. They both did great - in that I covered my costs, the Slim book on sales to the other book in the series, the Christmas book just about on its own.
This year, however, with those series expanded to four and (soon to be) three books, I'm banking on those ads working to the same extent. If they don't - and it's quite likely they won't, with that being the nature of the industry - and I fail to make much profit on a four-book and a three-book series, it's back to the drawing board all over again. Do I spend next year trying to write two to three more in each series, or do I give up and try something else? I'm trapped in a web where I'm trying to balance what I enjoy writing with becoming successful as a self-published author, and it's a lot of pressure on top of working full time and trying to keep a family happy and content. You find yourself squeezing your fears and worries into the dark crevasses at the beginning and the end of the day, when all your other duties are over or yet to begin, because its a journey you go on alone, one that only other self-published writers will ever really understand.
And then your cat needs feeding or the child wants to play with dolls and you find yourself wondering whether you're creating stress for yourself that you could forget simply by shutting your laptop away, or whether you're up for the fight for one more day, and you know, deep down, that you're a writer, and that come tomorrow morning in the dark some hours before dawn, you'll be up, the glow of the laptop in front of you, and you'll be rolling with the punches all over again.