Of late, I have been down in the mouth when it comes to writing. The last three book sales events that I have participated in have been poorly attended, with accordingly poor sales (so poor, that I left two of them early when it became abundantly clear how bad it was going to be).
My online sales in May were mediocre, and Lost Dogs recently received two poor Amazon reviews, one of which (IMHO) was reasonable (the book just didn’t work for them, but they appreciated what I was trying to do), the other was…well, professionalism demands that I say no more.
I am behind my own schedule to edit and re-issue Dragontamer’s Daughters, which, of course, is delaying the start of In Lonely Lands. The ongoing Internet food fight over this year’s Hugo Awards is rapidly becoming wearisome to watch (can we just vote already, and get it over with?). My recent blog posts have been hit-or-miss with visitors (if you came for the Old Man’s War review, thanks!–and please read some of the other posts). And I continue to face the challenge of being an unknown indie author trying to get eyeballs and sales, which is like trying to do burpees all the way up Mt Everest.
So yeah: lately, I’ve wondered why I bother. Easier, much easier, methinks, to give up, spend more time with the family, and scratch my ever-present writing itch by doing more updates to my 40K site. Fuggit.
And then I recalled something I read a little while ago from the modern-day sf/f master, John C. Wright. He said:
There’s more, of course, and you can read it here. Wright references A Voyage to Arcturus, which was an absolute flop when it was published (selling a mere 600 copies)–and yet Voyage is one of the greatest works of speculative fiction ever written, inspiring many other authors (like Wright, I didn’t appreciate it the first time I read it, in the callowness of my college years).
And so it hit me: it doesn’t matter how many copies of my books I sell. It doesn’t matter how many readers I gain. All I need is one. One person–now or next week or next year or in the next century–who reads something of mine and cherishes it until the end of their days. And who knows? Perhaps I already have.
One person: that’s all I or any other writer needs. Everything else–sales, good reviews, awards–is mere gravy.
Thank you, Mr. Wright. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work.
Kenton Kilgore is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. Kenton also wrote Dragontamer’s Daughters, a two-part young adult fantasy novel based on Navajo culture and belief. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature. Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.