Pressure: even I feel it.
I say that as an author who has yet to really make a splash. I’ve released seven books and none of them have made much money. Transgression has done a little better than the previous six, but it’s nothing like what other authors have accomplished. AJ, for instance, has trounced me in sales (he gave me permission to mention him in this post), and he’s set to do it again when Queers is released.
There are two issues I’m dealing with when it comes to success: how am I doing personally, and how am I doing compared to AJ?
Yes, I compare myself to him. Not often, because that way lies madness, but we’re both writers in the same genre, so there’s obvious competition we rarely acknowledge. But when he gets his royalty checks and I get mine, I’m quiet for a while, wondering how he’s made such a big name for himself so quickly and I haven’t. I consider whether or not I want to continue writing, because compared to him, I am not successful, and it hurts.
I know all the stuff people say to you when you admit something like this, so save it. I’m baring my soul here, and if you know me at all, you realize this is a rare thing. Like AJ, I’m a private person. We make every attempt to keep our real lives separate from our writing and social media.
Is this income disparity a problem between us? Yes. Not constantly, not even half the time, but on occasion there is tension, and for me, there is stress. No relationship is perfect, and we have to deal with things most other couples don’t.
So there’s that, and entwined with it is my naturally competitive nature. Leaving AJ out of the equation, I’m used to winning. I like being #1, and since I started publishing, I haven’t been. Hell, I’ve never even made an Amazon list. I’m always something like #187,389 in the Kindle store.
And then there’s the pressure from readers. AJ feels this very much. “When is your next book coming out?” “I can’t wait until you release the next one!” And on and on. They don’t realize how this affects him. Not only is he competing against his previous successes, he’s expected to satisfy his readers, too. Ouch.
I’ve gotten maybe *this much* of that (not selling, remember?), but multiply it by a hundred thousand, and I start to get an inkling of why AJ is often testy lately.
So we’ve got two writers in the same small apartment, each doing the best he can but at two wildly different levels of success, and on top of that, we also have to deal with reader expectations.
The way this has affected AJ is, he doesn’t want to be online anymore. He withdraws and buries himself in work or writing.
The way is affects me is, I don’t want to write anymore. It’s a struggle to sit and pour your guts out when you know only a handful of people are interested in the result.
Demons: we haz ’em.