So it seems a few things from yesterday's post require clarification. (This is me, after all. Nothing's ever clear the first time through.) I'm working on keeping my temper better, and I do apologize for being whiny on the subject... but can you tell me truthfully, looking at the numbers I quoted, you wouldn't be a trifle annoyed yourself?
Also, the monetary aspects of the post were not meant, and are never meant, to apply to the people who truly can't afford it. Trust me, I've been there. Never quite at the stage where I had to dig through the couch to pay the bills, but watching every dollar? Absolutely been there. It's one of the reasons I keep writing the free stuff.
What I didn't make clear enough, yesterday, is that the greatest killer of authorial confidence, happiness, and ability to keep writing, at least for me, is not nasty criticisms (though they're certainly no fun). It's not even lack of sales (though that's also no fun). It is something related to, but not identical with, those. It is silence.
If you can't afford the originals right now, tell me so. Tell me that you're interested in them but can't buy them yet, or that you're saving up for a special occasion, or that you've asked for them as a gift. I've been known to send coupon codes for discounted books, or even free ones, to people who have "paid" me in other currencies.
What other currencies do I mean? That's simple. Time. Attention. Which, yes, I know, a lot of us don't have much of those free either! But put yourself in my place. You've worked hard on these [stories, songs, artworks, crafts, projects of any kind] and you're proud of them. You send them off into the world. And in response you get...
Well, the response varies a lot, and I work hard to appreciate what I do get. Which can be, and often is, quite substantial. Thanks to those who stick with me through the Amazing Fluctuating Temperament. But when I can see my readership for the fan writing rising, but only my old faithfuls take the time to respond, it frustrates me.
Again, put yourself in my shoes. Imagine that you can see the number of people who have specifically requested to be told that you're producing new work, and it's going up. Now imagine that at the same time, the tangible response you receive for that work is going down. If that wouldn't bug you, you're a much better person than I am.
One of my commenters, yesterday, mentioned that posts like these are one reason she might hesitate to purchase an original, because she's worried that I might react angrily. For that, I do apologize, because I don't want to scare people away. But I try very hard to always respond in a similar tone to that in which I was addressed.
What does that mean? If you yell at me, condescend to me, be rude to me, I will return the favor. If you have criticisms, and heaven knows my work's not perfect, phrase them politely and I will try and accept them the same way. I can't guarantee I'll always succeed, but I do my best not to scream at people who want to help me.
As for being a public figure, and looking good... I'd love to be able to be the noble statue of an angel, always taking the high road, always suffering slings and arrows in silence. Unfortunately my mother gave birth to a human being. Prick me, I bleed, and probably I also cuss at you, because what are you doing with that needle, anyway?
I'm working very hard on finding appropriate responses to the various forms of communication that my readers use to tell me what they think of my work. I'm not always going to get it right the first time, or the second, or the fifteenth. But as I said above, silence is one of the least helpful responses anybody can receive.
In many contexts, silence means consent. If you don't protest something, most people will assume you're okay with it. With the current state of my writing, I'm more okay than it sometimes sounds like I am, but please, people. Take five minutes. Talk to me. Because from where I sit, silence doesn't mean consent. It means emptiness.
If my originals don't sound interesting to you, you know what? I'm okay with that. (I may do a little grumping to my cats but they're used to it.) But give me something. Review the fan fiction, like a status on the Facebook page, retweet one of my goofy everyday adventures. Silence leaves me feeling like I'm shouting into a void.
Also, do consider the number of comments on my originals I get that start out with some variation of the phrase "I normally don't like [genre] but..." I'm not very good at writing back-cover text, so it's possible I'm doing my originals a disservice there. Samples are available at Amazon and Smashwords... at least have a look? Please?
I hope this makes things clearer, and somewhat less scary. Props to everyone who puts up with me -- I know it can't be easy. Now, for pretzels and tea, and then off to write wrestling puppies and magical swords. (Yes, that does mean you get a chapter of Surpassing Danger by the end of the week. Sometimes I gripe to a purpose.)
Thanks for spending five minutes with me today!