One of the most important lessons I learned as a branch leader in the CIA was to manage the expectations of our customers and never promise them things we could not deliver. The White House did not like it when I told them we not able to provide first-hand reporting on certain intelligence issues; however, when we did provide information they accepted it as our best unbiased assessment and realized we were not pushing an agenda.
The same can also be said about publishing, except that it is our expectations as writers that need to be managed. Although every writer or aspiring writer I've ever talked with knows the reality of the industry, we all know deep down that if we work hard we'll be the next George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling; we'll never be the writer who struggles for years until he/she measure their success by finally becoming a thousandaire. Yet it happens, and every writer needs to understand that the odds are greater they'll have an Amazon ranking down around 900,000 rather than being on a top ten list. It's similar to soldiers who go off to war knowing the risks involved but feeling that they will come back safely; there are numerous military cemeteries across the world testifying to the harsh reality.
I'm no different from any other writer. I'm preparing to self-publish my first novel in the next several weeks, and in the lead up to that have been reading up on the subject and taking courses to hone my marketing skills. Everything I've read or taken always touts the success stories. Which is only natural. We all want to be successful at writing. No one wants to read a blog posting that says "do this and fail anyway." Yet this creates in writers, especially aspiring writers, a sense that following these guidelines means you cannot fail. We go into our next publishing venture with high expectations of success and, if things don't pan out as planned, wind up depressed and wondering if all the effort is really worth it.
This is why I found Amazon Pays $450,000 a Year to This Self-Published Writer to be one of the best postings about the self-publishing industry I have seen in a while. As expected, the posting stresses the success of independent writers such as Mark Dawson and Mel Sherratt, but it also discusses the more realistic results achieved by writers such as Phil Harper and Jack Burroughs. I strongly urge any writer considering self-publishing to read this posting carefully, and not because it will give you any insights into how to succeed in the industry. It will accurately lay out for you what to expect, and will provide a reality check to anyone smart enough to heed it.