*Whine Alert. Grab some cheese before you read on.*
"Karina, you do great work...but people don't believe it."
I was a first lieutenant in the Air Force when my supervisor told me this. Twenty-two years old, working hard and apparently producing great work, but nonetheless, for the most part, I did not have the confidence of my chain of command and my coworkers that I could actually do the job--even when the fruits of my labors were there for them to see.
I still remember my first reaction--to get upset. My second was to ask my commander, "And what are you doing about that? Because I am doing good work and busting my butt for this organization." However, the Major was being sincere and seemed frustrated over it, too. Plus, he was a Marine, and you don't whine or demand entitlements of a Marine. Besides, I was an officer--give me a problem and I'd handle it. So I said, "Okay, why, and what do I do about it?"
"I don't know," he replied.
It's 23 years later, and I find myself having the same conversation.
I am a very good writer. I write tight prose and fast-moving, complex plots. People love my characters. My humor can make people laugh out loud in public and even spit out their drinks. And this isn't me bragging--this is what I get told by folks who have read my work. My novels and anthologies have won popular and judge-based awards, and have four or more stars on Amazon. My publishers tell me I'm one of the hardest working marketers they have--and more than one has hired me to teach the basics to their other authors--which I do well. Even when I've asked for help, I get the same advice I'm already following.
And yet... My Amazon rankings are low. My sales are low. My blog and website hits are low. I work hard, do the same kind of things other more successful authors do, and even with high-quality work, my books are not thriving.
Karina, you do great work...but people don't believe it.
When it comes down to it, that's why I'm tired of writing. I love writing, but I'm tired of working so hard to create great books and to promote them, yet to achieve so little in terms of readership.
I left the active-duty Air Force in 1993 to stay home to raise our first child. I have to admit, much as I wanted to be a stay-home mom, some of it was because I was tired of working hard and yet not getting the recognition commensurate to my work. I didn't enjoy the Air Force that much.
However, I love writing. I've never had such fun or felt such satisfaction as I do when creating and polishing a story. But I'm tired, tired, tired of busting butt for such small returns. And it's not even the money, per se. We're financially well-off; money is a measure of success and readership--though I do feel I should at least get back what I invest.
So, now I'm back to the question I had asked my commanding officer nearly two decades ago: "Okay, why, and what do I do about it?"