"Card declined - Insufficient funds"
This happened to me today. Thankfully, I had a backup card - my business one. So I used that, and at some stage this afternoon I'll update our household budget and perform my amazing magic trick of filling ten jars when all I have is eight pennies.
Sound familiar? Yeah. We've all been there, right?
I was there about, hmm, I think it was three years ago? Maybe four. Anyway, I've been in this situation before therefore I'm not worried about my ability to get out of it.
But, dudes, let's get real. Shit in our house sucks right now. The bones of it are awesome. I've been blessed with an incredible husband and two epic kids. But we're frustrated. And that shows.
I'm sure you can relate. *takes a minute to let you all nod your heads and raise your hand with an 'Amen, sister!'*
Let's get to the point of this post.
I started this blog (can you even call it one when there's only two posts? LOL) last year after a pretty rough time in life. I knew then that I wanted to do this to help others in a similar situation, but I let it slide because I struggled to find the exact purpose for adding yet another regular update to your feed.
A few weeks ago, it hit me. And then, in true Max fashion, I ruminated on it and whether I should do it.
Eh. Fuck it - let's go. 😆
I want to share with you, fellow author, a blow by blow of my "re-start". And yeah, even if you're not an author you may get value out of this, but it will be very author-centric.
This blog will be my diary of sorts. I'll share numbers, successes, failures, and thoughts along the way. I'll show you what works for me and what doesn't, and from the details I give you, you can then make a decision on whether that applies to your business model or not.
Basically, you'll get front row seat to see how I recover the career I spent four years nurturing into existence ... and one destroying.
Let's begin ...
I'm going to start by saying something that may be unpopular, but it's also brutally honest: being an author is not a hobby.
If you want to write for the pure love of it, with no expectation of monetary reward, then that's hobby-writing. But if you want to call yourself an author and make an income from the books you create, then honey, you're a businessperson.
Here's the tricky part.
To be a writer/author, it requires your personality have at least a little bit of a creative flair. And us creatives, we're ultra-sensitive souls at the best of times. After all, we flay ourselves open on the pages of our books so it only makes sense that when it comes to the logical, decision-making side of the job that we struggle to seperate heart and head.
Yet, successful business people are able to do that. They can look at their past failures, their wins, and they can use an analytical mind to dissect what worked and what didn't. Ergo, what is worth repeating.
Sure, some of us can do that, and hats off to you. But the majority of my peers are people like me who struggle to get that balance of soul and statistics.
What's another thing that great businesspeople do? They mastermind. They get together with their peers and they lay all the information out on the table for a group discussion.
But what do the majority of authors do? Well, we hold our stats close to our chest, fingers crinkling the pages while we back our way along the wall in case somebody should ask to see. Why do we do this? I guess in part it's an old-school belief system that it's vain to share your successes, and fruitless to share your losses. Maybe there are a few who prefer to live in the glory of their false facade, rather than be vulnerable and open about what it truly takes to get where they are?
I'm sure there's a thousand reasons. But one reason for what I'm prepared to do, that I know is a definite trait of mine, is this: I've never been one to conform.
So, this is me pledging to open my books, pull out my desk drawers, and hypothetically give you the password to my computer. If you (aspiring, new, or seasoned author) can learn from me, then I've done my job. Period.
Let me kick things off with a snapshot of where I am today.
I currently make low (LOW) four figures per month. As in, I think I might crack two grand this month for the first time since last July. Yeppers. ELEVEN months ago.
Now, I hear a few of you muttering, "But Max. You just had a new release. You should be reaping it in."
Yeah. *laughs* Nah. I'm not.
My backlist book that I advertise through Facebook out-earned my new release.
Let that sink in.
My backlist, out-earned a new release, that people were hanging out for.
How's that for full transparency?
Am I upset? No. Am I frustrated? Hell yeah. I'm not crying into my cornflakes though because I know where I went wrong. I have no budget. As in, what's left over after I pay my running costs for the biz goes into our household. I have no money for promo.
Will it always be that way? Fuck no. Does it suck in the meantime though? ENORMOUSLY.
Still, I'm smiling. How? Because while I wasn't publishing last year, I was doing something massively more important. I learnt how to get on top of my mindset.
(Word of warning: I can be a little woo-woo in my beliefs in something larger than us at play in our fates.)
I have always been super negatively geared toward myself. Call it the flow-on from being bullied every year of my thirteen years at school ... and then for the first three years of my working life. Habits. Pfft. They're tricky little critters.
All that negativity toward me? I absorbed it like a sponge, and after decades of being told I was undesirable simply because of the way I looked, spoke, or who hung out with - well - it stuck back there in the underfed subconscious.
Even when I sold $14k in a month on my breakout book, I thought I was a fraud.
Even when I reached 300-something in the Amazon US store, I felt as though I didn't belong.
Even when people message me to tell me how much my words resonate with them, I don't quite believe their admiration could be legitimate.
And even when I look back over my books and see the ones I'm most proud of (Echoes in the Storm, Down Beat) have average reviews over 4.5 stars ... I doubt my ability to craft a bestseller.
Again, I bet you can all relate, huh? None of this is unique to me. And yet, for so long I saw it that way. For so long I told myself that I did not deserve to sit at the same signings, or eat at the same table, as all these legends I know. And then when I was belittled and told by a fellow author that my writing career is a "dream" - I took that as validation that earning money (enough money to support my family) was a ridiculous notion I'd never reach.
Because I classed myself as 80% at everything. As in, I'd only ever reach 80% of my potential because I was only 80% loveable, likeable, skilled enough etc etc.
Not anymore. Nope. Fuck that shit. How the hell I spoke to myself the way I did for so long and didn't see the issue with it, I'll never know.
But, that's the past, and this is now.
Now, I'm on a comeback. But it's so much more than that. It's me doing again what I know is achievable, but doing it right.
And over all, forgiveness.
Forgive yourself when you don't get where you thought you would. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Forgive yourself when you catch your mindset in a negative spiral.
Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. And then repeat after me, "My rank/income/review count/followers does not equal my worth."
Because it doesn't. It's merely a Lego block in the creation that is your brand and your business. It's not you.
It's not you.
You, are awesome. And you, have incredible potential.
So come hang out and let's figure out this shit together.