"Cherry in White" graphic art - Click to enlarge or buy.

“Cherry in White” graphic art – Click to enlarge or buy.

I’ll be truthful. I’ve been a bit downcast of late. For some strange reason, I thought that having three new fiction books published at once (and four fiction books published in total) would tip the balance in my writing career. I expected that I would finally see towering sales start to shoot up from the carefully-tilled earth where I planted my latest work. When I didn’t see those sales catapult my books into best-seller status, I panicked. To those poor, unfortunate souls caught in the resulting whirlwind of my wayward emotions, I apologize. I admit that I had a writer newb moment and I’m not proud of that.

You see, I’ve known the hard truth about the fiction writing career for a long time. It’s one very lopsided ladder. Let me explain what I mean.

The fiction writing career ladder looks like this:

Rung 1 – Writing Enthusiast: enthusiasts love reading books enough that they will occasionally dabble in writing their own stories whenever inspiration sporadically strikes them

Rung 2 – Writing Hobbyist: the hobbyist writes stories on a regular basis, but with no intention to publish or sell them for a profit

Rung 3 – Serious Writer: serious writers craft stories on a regular schedule with the intention to publish and sell them for a profit. These writers also spend a considerable amount of time and money honing their skills through writing exercises, peer groups, competitions, conferences, etc.

Rung 4 – Published Writer: published writers are serious writers who have published at least one of their own stories or books. There are two ways of doing this: traditional publishing and independent publishing. Despite a lot of talk to the contrary, neither of these routes are easy.

Rung 5 – Professional Writer: professional writers are those writers who have published more than one of their own stories or books. No matter which publishing route they take, these writers know that quality writing, editing, design are essential to profitable publishing on any scale. Consequently, they continue honing their craft with each new work that they publish. Never willing to settle for the status quo, they seek to build and expand their audience with every new work they release.

Rung 6 – Fulltime Writer: fulltime writers are those lucky few who make enough money to support themselves and their families through their published work. This last group is an elite breed—the All-Stars of their respective publishing genres. This group is usually comprised of business-savvy individuals who have proven their value to their readers through their consistent quality and quantity of work. Expect to see authors with 30 or more books to their name standing on this rung.

So what does all this mean for me and my recent meltdown? Well, to put it bluntly, my problem was that I forgot just how far of a jump it is between Rung 5 and Rung 6. With a tidy five books and a smattering of short stories to my name, I’ve barely latched onto the fifth rung. I’m just now beginning to prove my worth as a writer to readers. As frustrating as that may be, such a proving ground is actually a wonderful place to be. Hanging onto the fifth rung means that I’ve already hopped up four rungs and, in doing so, have proven my writing capabilities to myself. I’m going to need that confidence to survive the punishing leap ahead of me. Every book I write is a grappling hook thrown in the right direction. Maybe with a few more well-aimed throws, I might actually make it across the chasm stretching between Rungs 5 and 6. In the meantime, though, I need to get back to work. If I start making grand assumptions about my writing career anytime soon, please remind me that the fifth rung isn’t a place where a writer should get cocky. It’s a place where a writer should get busy.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!