It is very easy to get discouraged as an indie author. You can't find enough time in the day to write if you promote enough. If you don't promote, people can't possibly know about your books. And, how much promotion is good and when does it become annoying to others? Plus, the big name authors have the luxury of huge promotion budgets with their publisher. (The majority of authors signed by big publishers DON'T, though, and their books get lost until they are finally put in bargain bins...paying them nothing and resulting in a lost contract.)
It is great to be indie for many reasons (including the one in parentheses above), but it is not a get rich scheme. It is not even a part time income for quite some time, at least for most of us. Many people are lucky to sell 100 books. I have been fortunate enough to do better than that...but let's just say I am not even close to earning a living yet. So, it is easy to get discouraged.
Then there is the issue of price. A ton of indies go free, hoping to build a following. A lot price their books at .99. Both of these can get a lot of readers, but they are not necessarily the readers you want to target. Many people download anything free or .99 and then bitch about the fact that they don't like "that kind of book". Maybe they are romance fans and your book is horror. Or they love mysteries and yours is science fiction. They downloaded it because it was free, or close to it, and now they leave a bad review simply because of the genre.
There is also the issue of how many poorly edited and proofed cheap indie books are out there. Because of that, many other readers do NOT download free or .99. So, what is an indie to do? For months I priced mine at $2.99. Then I noticed that a lot of other $2.99 books were a) a lot shorter and b) a lot less professionally done. Lots of editing issues.
I decided to raise my prices to $4.99. Now I have to face a new problem. There are a lot of readers that won't give an indie a chance if they have to pay much at all. Seriously is $4.99 asking too much for several hours of pleasure? How much does a movie cost you? How much to paperbacks cost you? Still, many hesitate. Others won't touch historical fiction for less than that. So I am trying the $4.99. There is a lot of research that goes into writing about another era and the books are all over 400 pages. (I see Amazon has "estimated" my 3rd book at 323 pages. How they do that for a kindle book is flawed. I have news for them. When the paperback comes out it will be over 400.) Will I be able to sell decently at $4.99? Time will tell. I hope people are willing to pay under $5.00 for a well done story.
So far, things have not taken off in that huge way every author dreams of. It happens, rarely, but so far not for me. I have sold decently some months, others not. But, please, don't think I am whining. I chose this path, and I am damn proud of my work. I am also grateful for each and every fan. I am just saying that sometimes I get discouraged.
Then something happens that reminds me why I write. Take yesterday. I heard from someone who loves my work. She told me that she can't wait to read book 3 and that she has read the first two books in The Gastien Series THREE TIMES already! The books have not even been out a year. Her husband also loves them and has her read them out loud to him. He has cried over some of the events. So has she.
That touched me so very deeply that I can't even find the words to express my joy. I have moved those two people; made them feel for my characters deeply. I have provided them hours of entertainment and brought a couple closer together through sharing these books. They love my work and they are excited when I put out a new book. I don't know these people personally. We don't even live in the same state. We will probably never meet. But I am part of their lives in a positive way.
We are tied together through some words I typed, held permanently together by love of a character named Gastien and the people in his life. He has done more as a fictional character than many people walking around today will ever do. He has given some people new experiences through his story. Yes, we are tied together for the rest of our lives, and I am richer by far because of it. Not in my bank account, but in my soul.
They are not my only fans. There are others, and let me tell you loud and clear, I deeply value each and every one of them. I can only hope that the happiness they get from my work is as great as the happiness they have given me by letting me know they love my work.
It ain't money, babe. Although it would be nice. It ain't fame. It IS to know someone has been moved and entertained. To know my words matter; that they have made an impact. That, my friends, is quite simply why I write.