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Five Years Later

I’ve been writing professionally for 5 years now, more or less. A little more, truth be told, but I’ll round down. The point is, that feels like a long time. Not including the current book I’m writing, it’s 4,184,000 published words worth of time. That’s a lot of keys being slapped around.

What have I learned? A lot. Unfortunately, a lot of the lessons require unlearning something I learned the month before. For example, just this morning my wife got an email from an ARC reader stating she loved her book, but she was worried at first because of the details and backstory. She wanted to skip past the potato salad and get to the meat right away.

When I saw that I stiffened in my chair and stared at the screen in a serious WTF moment. I’d been criticized by readers in the past for not providing enough potato salad! My only consolation is the disparity in genres. I was chastised for short sci-fi novellas at the time. My wife’s market of choice is paranormal romance. A different breed of reader to be found there. Not better or worse, in my opinion, just readers expecting different things.

So I’ll step back from the tactical and strategic help and focus instead on helping with the writing. As for my work, I’m doing my best to keep it light and fun. Entertainment that turns the pages and makes my readers want to see what crazy stuff I can come up with next. Or at least that’s my current book.

What is my current book? It’s the sci-fi book I’ve been talking about on and off. I still don’t have a name, but I have a lot of ideas and plans. I’ll tease more alien races soon too. Maybe some technology and other random bits of interest about the universe too. It’s the beginning of a setting that, like Vitalis or Voidhawk, could span into an amazing number of stories that just keep building and building.

But I digress. Five years and over 4 million words is a lot of entertainment. I have 11 series of stories out there (most of them ongoing), and over 65 books. I write in multiple genres and have been included in group projects by writers far more financially successful than I am. I’ve even hit the USA Today and NY Times bestseller list this year with an inclusion under a pen name in a group project. By myself? Not a chance! But with others that can afford the promotion necessary to get us there – easy as cake.

The two things writing has boiled down to, for me, are financial success and the ability to be a writer. I am a writer. A prolific and well regarded one, to hear people talk about my work. Financially, however, it’s a rough road to follow. I have a day job and it looks like I won’t be leaving my day job for a very long time. Amazon’s ever changing marketplace keeps knocking me around and, especially lately, dropping me into pretty shaky sales territory. All those titles and it’s still a struggle for me day to day. Not to write, but to see the lackluster copies sold. It’s demoralizing, to say the least.

But that’s what makes a writer a writer. The stubborn mulishness necessary to push ahead and write another chapter. To put ourselves out there when the whims of the market and perhaps even common sense would dictate otherwise. It’s a gamble, you see, but a gamble with nothing but positive side effects. So my book doesn’t sell – I still wrote it. I still lived the adventure. I still explored characters, concepts, and topics I hadn’t thought of before. I may be out the cost of editing and cover art and perhaps a few other things (including time spent), but I learned something, damn it. I made myself a more educated and well-rounded person. I’ve learned more from writing all those books than I learned obtaining three degrees.

That’s the sum total of five years. I’d hoped to have a sports car, a nice house, and time to spend with my writing and my family by now. Well, there’s no car and no house, but I still get my family and the voices in my head to keep me company. It doesn’t matter if the sports car rolls in or not, I’m happy to work on hitting the 5 million word mark and enjoying what I’ve got. There’s a lot of things in my life I can’t control, such as whether or not people buy my books. I can control my happiness though, and I choose to find a way to be happy even when the royalties dip and bills begin to loom. Why would anyone want to live any other way?

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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  1. Mom
    March 17, 2015 at 11:41

    ok Jason I just read your article on he-man & laughed out loud. It’s nice to know your sons thinking of u tho.😜

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