I’ve now been in the writing business for 10 years!!!
On the 8th February 2012, I pressed enter on my laptop, launching my first book, Screw The System. Since that moment, I’ve worked tirelessly to establish myself as an author.
First, Screw The System was updated and then re-released as Escape The System in 2015.
Then, in 2018, I finished my second book.
Originally slated as, How to Create an Income Without Working a Boring Job, the title was changed to Do The Work you Love when I got a publishing deal with Watkins Media. This deal delayed the publication and it wasn’t until February 202o that my second book was finally released.
My third book, The Personal Freedom Manifesto, quickly followed, being released in March of 2021.
Releasing three or four books in ten years is not a lot. However, this says nothing of the countless hours I spent attempting to build an audience through methods like blogging, guest blogging, starting a YouTube channel and making videos, creating a meet up group and hosting numerous events, speaking at personal development events throughout London, promoting my work on social media, forming partnerships with other authors and learning about marketing.
In total, I’ve given approximately 8500 hours, of the last 10 years of my life, to becoming a successful author. Since 2015, I’ve kept to a schedule of working 20 hours a week, or 1000 hours a year, on my writing business.
Before that, my hours were far more sporadic. 5 hours one week, 15 the next and none the week after – a typically working schedule from 2012 to 2014 (I was supporting myself through tennis coaching and hypnotherapy at the time) – was never going to cut it.
How successful have I been with my 10 years as a writer?
What does 10 years of extremely hard work as a writer amount to when it comes to money made and books sold?
Total number of books sold: 5201
(Escape The System = 3400
Do The Work you Love = 1000
The Personal Freedom Manifesto = 800)
Total number of subscribers to this/my website: 3000
Total number of subscribers to my YouTube channel: 1100
Total number of members of my ‘Success Club’ meet up group: 1015
And, now, for the big one. How much money does this equate to?
Many multiples of my book sales is the best answer I can give.
I haven’t got the exact figure. All I know is you could multiply my book sales by about 4 or 5 to get an accurate number.
Of course, these earnings are not exclusively from book sales (that would be a lot lower). Instead, while including that figure, it also includes money I receive from private coaching clients, freelance writing projects and the scraps I make from running my own personal development events.
What do you think of that?
It might sound ok-ish, not bad if this was a hobby. However, digest the next two points and see if you still think the same.
First, the rough figure I provided above is turnover. My profit is far lower.
How much lower?
I dread to think and, to be honest, I don’t have an accurate figure to hand. If I spent hours rummaging through my back taxes I could produce one, but, suffice to say, I’m probably in the black.
Second, this figure is for an entire 10 years. It’s not one year’s worth of earnings (which might be ok).
It’s ten years of blood, sweat and tears.
It’s ten years of frustration as I attempted to become a digital publisher, trying to succeed in a world where my two biggest weaknesses – technology and marketing – are exposed on a daily basis.
It’s ten years of having my expectations dashed with every book, blog post and video I release.
It’s ten years of watching other authors succeed, whose work is no better than mine, and scratching my head trying to figure out what they know that I don’t.
And, after ten years, what do I have to show for it?
In financial terms, close to nothing.
Fortunately, though, life isn’t measured in financial terms (at least not entirely). As tough as the previous ten years have been, there are parts of it I’ve absolutely loved.
Nothing compares to hearing from a reader who loves your work. Combined across all books, and Amazon marketplaces, I’ve had over 150 five-star reviews. Each one of these is relished as I pinch myself and realise the dream I had back in 2002 (of being able to create something with my thoughts and words that would positively impact another person’s life), has come true.
Expression, in of itself, is also a huge reward. For the decade prior to becoming a writer, I lived my life never communicating what I truly felt. I stuck to my nice guy, tennis coach persona which, although not fake, only expressed part of my authentic self.
To be able to sit down and articulate my contempt for modern society (in a public forum – not just my head) is such a relief and release.
Finally, there are the connections I’ve made. Through my writing, I’ve made friends, formed a tribe and realised I’m not alone.
Before 2012, I thought I was the only person who looked at the world the way I did (modern jobs are little better than economic servitude, our societal tendency to accept mediocre lives is insane and the system is set up to enable the elites to maintain their wealth and power while the common man, and woman, gets shafted). However, through my writing, I discovered other people who share these points of view.
This gives me hope and a sense of connection I previously lacked.
While these are important, life enhancing, factors, any sane individual has to, at some point, sit down and ask themselves whether all the effort is worth the reward.
As crazy as it sounds, I’m tempted to say, ‘yes.’
Sure, I can zoom out, gain a more objective understanding of these last 10 years and listen to anyone who might say, ‘you’re wasting your life.’
That line of thinking seems credible. I could have certainly made a lot more money if I’d chosen to do something else.
However, try as I might to rationalise my situation in this way (and I have many times), it never feels right.
In times of doubt, I always go back the same thought process.
I know who I am.
I know that bashing my head against a brick wall and trying to fit this round peg into a square hole isn’t going to work.
Therefore, I have to make my own way and I can’t rely on society to do it for me.
If I’m going to do that then I have to follow my inspiration because it’s the only form of positive guidance I’ve got.
There are a few dreams/ideas/causes that generate this feeling but writing is the one I chose, the one I’ve developed skills and contacts in, and the one on which I’m furthest down the road to success.
All of this means that becoming a best-selling author is the hill I’m ready to die on.
Do you know what this means?
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase.
At some point, an army must make a stand. They must find their hill and defend it till the end because wavering or running (finding another dream to pursue) will only weaken them and waste even more time.
That army is either going to succeed or be totally obliterated. However, because they’ve made the commitment and gone ‘all in’ on securing the victory, they give themselves the best possible chance of coming out the other side.
That’s where I’m at with my writing.
On balance, it’s probably taken more than it’s given but succeeding as an author runs so much deeper than financial return or status.
When I 20 years old, I felt completely lost. There isn’t space here to elaborate on why but, suffice to say, I spent 3 years feeling totally disillusioned with my life.
Then, in February of 2002, I read a book that blasted through my self-doubt and gave me the hope I could turn my life around.
This was an amazing gift. It felt like magic was contained within the pages, with each one bringing me back to life.
I want to do that for someone else. I want to transmute magic through words and ideas and touch the deepest part of a person’s soul.
Added to that, I also feel my writing is a small attempt to do what’s right in the world.
I grew up in the 80s. Star Wars made a huge impression on my psyche.
The Rebels had to beat the Evil Empire.
Our evil empire is a system, one that’s obsessed with money, image and appearances and thinks the material is the only way to value and judge life.
I disagree. I think substance, freedom and following your inspiration is more important. I want to use my writing to promote these ideas and, by doing so, challenge the hegemony of the evil empire.
It can’t win.
So, when you combine both my passion for the medium of books and my belief in taking a stand for what’s right, perhaps you understand how I justify the continuation of my writing journey.
It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been heart-breaking at times. But, when something is important enough, you’ll bounce back from every defeat and keep going until the end.
Remember that as you pursue your own crazy dream. At some point you must find your hill and make a stand.
If you want to discover a passion you can make a living from and overcome the fears that are holding you back, check out my free course 30 Days to Escape The System. Click here to get the course right now! (You will find the unconventional approach to developing belief and self-confidence fascinating!)