Thursday, September 5, 2013

Seeking Alpha

I love simple terms with complex meanings.

For folks in the investment world (you know, the world of high finance where money really DOES grow on trees and people drive Porsche's and Lamborghini’s.. yea, that world) the term, or phrase, “seeking alpha” is used as a mantra for the savvy investor who seeks out the fine balance between risk and reward where the benefits outweigh the costs of playing around with the big bucks.

In a shorter, more earthy and understandable definition, it means ya did good with the money. You got a return on your investment. You can avoid breaking the piggy bank for another month.

For me, as an independent author of fantasy and scifi, “seeking alpha” means something similar in theory, but in reality it is something oh so different.

Seeking Alpha for the independent writer means many things: finding the right balance between writing and doing the things you have to do to live and eat; remembering to feed the dog and to finish that chapter; making that date with your wife and providing an honest and brutal assessment to your illustrator about the most recent cover mock up; remembering to shower and…. Well that one stands on its own.

See, balance for a writer means, in essence, finding a way to work multiple jobs all at once (and I DO MEAN multiple jobs!)

It just gets really hard.

And, let’s be totally honest here… MOST people will give up.

Sad but true. Face it… there is almost never an awesome rags to riches story for the independent author. And most people can’t handle that… don’t have the longevity to stay in the race.

OK, sure we’ve all heard the tales of the writers who write that break out novel and make a million dollars the first month on Amazon.

But, even in today’s new Wild West World of Writers Sticking It To The Man and taking the reins of their careers into their own callused and blood soaked hands, that First-Time-Author-Million-Copy-Best-Seller HARDLY EVER HAPPENS!

Just get that in your head right now. Because if you don’t, you’ll have the same silly expectations that most all of us have had at one time or another, that your book is going to be different this time and it’s really good and it’s gonna make all kinds of money… and then SIX months later when your book is languishing in the high six figure ranking range and nearing 1 Million (no, bigger is NOT better when ranking Amazon books)… someone will have to come along and yank that bottle of Grey Goose out of your hand, pry your other hand off the pistol and unwrap that noose from around your neck.

Trust me. It CAN happen to you.

But you can’t let it.

You have to tell yourself right up front, get down on your knees and smack yourself in the face, self-flagellate your back and sides and nether regions with that cat-o-nine-tails over and over again and repeat this mantra until it sinks in to your thick headed skull:


That’s it! That’s right! Feel better? Yea… I thought you would.

Find your balance.

Expect this to be a LONG haul trip.

Prepare yourself for the reality that you likely will NOT be making a living off of this, at least not right away, and hey, maybe NEVER.

And allow yourself to realize that IT’S OK!

If you don’t “make it”… it’s OK!

You’re still writing, right?

And hey… if you are one of those amazing folks who DO make it... one of the few of us who get to walk those halls and sit in the confines of the elite breathing that rarified air of the SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR… then my hats off to you. Kudos. Luxuriate in all the trappings of a job well done.

For the rest of us?

Pass the Grey Goose.

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