People keep asking me smart questions, about my books, about my writing, about my methods, thinking that I know it all, that I have developed some strategy for everything and am now implementing it. But I don't. I swear, I didn't. The only thing I know is, when I write, I'm happy. There is another thing I know too. The more I write, the faster I write, the easier it is for me to write, because I build up a routine and stop being scared. I also know that when I stop writing for a long period of time, it's harder for me to start again. And I know that reading inspires me to write, teaches me how to write. That's pretty much it. It comes down to two very simple things I try to do every day: write a lot and read a lot. This is my strategy. The rest I don't know, stumbling around in the dark just like you, learning things, making mistakes. Even for my social media, for Twitter primarily, I don't have a strategy, I simply try to be myself as much as possible. That's all there is to it. Yes, I have self-published, yes, I have even written a bunch of posts on how to self-publish your book, but, again, I don't do much in that regard. I don't do contests, or giveaways, or some other things. I simply give my novels away for free on my site, sell autographed copies, and I have posted my books for free everywhere I could, and where I couldn't, I posted it for the minimal price. The miracle is, people actually buy my books, not much, but they do. Which confirms my belief. Write from the heart, the rest doesn't matter.
You won't find your own voice, unless you write from the heart. I noticed this while reading 2nd draft of ROSEHEAD these past two days. There were parts where I got scared of being myself while writing, and they needed fixing, because they sounded fake. But there were also parts that made me think I'm reading a real published book, I got so much into the story. Those were the parts where I got rid of the fear somehow, perhaps got carried away, and I wrote like me. Not like somebody else I admire, but like me. Those were the moments when I forgot all about publishing, or reader's feedback, or grammar, or rules on how every novel has to have a message, or anything else usually deemed important, and simply wrote from the heart, wrote how I felt, and it was real. It sounded real, and suddenly I understood if there is one person on this planet to whom my story will also sound real, I have fulfilled my job as a writer. I stayed honest to myself and I connected with another human being. That alone is beautiful. I also realized that if I stayed true to myself, this connection would be a connection in the truest sense of the word, a 100% connection, not 80%, not 60%, not 43%, but the entire 100%. When a reader like this gives you their feedback, hearing it validates your writing to you like nothing else. In general, I'm scared that I'm no good, I look down upon my writing, so when I got several amazing book reviews from people raving about my work, it took me a while to accept it, but it also only made me want to stay myself, to keep writing from the heart no matter what.
Writing from the heart will sell, despite common fear that it might not. Several people have been asking me to blog my numbers on SIREN SUICIDES. There is really not enough material for me to fill out a whole blog post. I have published it in August of this year, so it's been 2 months since then. I calculated today the numbers. They're not big, by any means. I sold about 110 books on Amazon, both digital and paperback copies, and I sold about 120 books on my site, all autographed (curious how I sold a little more on my site, right?). Also, I have no means of tracking the number of free downloads of my books from my site, but combined downloads on other distribution platforms that I was able to track are a little over 1,300. There are your numbers. I wrote Siren Suicides from the heart, for therapy, honestly not thinking that anyone would be interested in reading it or buying it. But I have been proven wrong. People do still buy it, and read it, and send me messages how healing the books were to them. Slowly, I'm starting to be less afraid of being myself and to keep writing from the heart, because I'm prone to usual fears of every writer, the biggest of them all being, I'm running out of my savings in 4 months, and after that I have to find a way to make money, or else. I'm very tempted to give in to my fears, but I know that I must not. I must keep writing from the heart, no matter what.
You don't know if anyone will read your work, so write from the heart to be happy. This is something I heard from Chuck Palahniuk at one of his readings. He was saying, you gotta write for yourself, because you never know if anyone will read your work or not, and the time you spend on writing, it's your life, so better spend it doing something you love. I've been following his advice ever since. Writing is a form of therapy, and it's only effective if you're honest with yourself, no matter how scary that might feel. I'm still scared, I can see it clearly in 2nd draft of Rosehead. There are still places where out of fear I try to be somebody else, and the writing always suffers because of it. Your heart knows who you are, it doesn't think, it just feels. Your brain, however, learned to think, and sometimes it thinks too much. This thinking gets in the way of feeling, when it's untrained, and this is where writer's block comes from. You think too much, you don't trust your emotions, your story, and, bam, you're blocked. It's not that you're actually blocked, it's more like you're scared, you're unsure of yourself. Imagine for a second that you didn't have to think, that you could simply write how you feel. Even if for the moment all you feel is being blocked. Surely there is someone out there who feels exactly the same way that you do. That's why writing from the heart is the only way to go. It's the only way to be happy, and the only way to connect.
Call me foolish, but this is what I believe in. Write, every day, write from the heart, keep writing no matter what, and then only day you will be surprised at people wanting to read your work, that one day when you least expect it. That's what I plan to do. I will keep writing and keep giving my books away for free for as long as I can. Currently, I have 4 months worth of money left, and so far this year I have made about $2,000 from selling books and a little over $2,000 from donations. I need about $20,000 a year to live on, so I'm thinking of doing a Kickstarter after my money runs out, to fund my future books. We shall see what happens. Let the race begin.