For a writer developing their career, they may think that “bigger is always better.” That the bigger your platform, the greater your reach, the more success you will find. But today I want to talk about finding the RIGHT FIT for your writing career. That this goes beyond book sales, this is about creating a life, a career, that suits who you are and the work you create, not just a landgrab for more more more. Let’s take a look at an example of right fit and wrong fit…
Last week I took a walk around town and saw this: a new house being built next to an old one:
The lot that the new house is being built on used to have a small house on it, but last year, it sold for $750,000. That’s right, they bought that old house for $750,000 and knocked it down in order to build a dramatically bigger house. Once completed, the new house on the will sell for more than $1.5 million (likely closer to $2mm), and taxes will easily be $30,000. This is a jump from $15,000 the smaller home paid before it was knocked down.
So let’s just say you win the lottery, you win $2 million. And you go and buy that house on the left once it’s completed. You now have a 4,200 square foot home on a half acre on a very nice street filled with other $million+ houses. Now, you may think: “I have arrived. We have no mortgage, I can just sit back and relax.”
But you can’t.
Because the scale of the house is so large that it requires a vastly larger expenditure of your resources:
- You have to keep the landscaping nice.
- You now have more rooms to furnish, and a feeling you must decorate them nice enough to fit into the stature of the house.
- You now have more rooms to clean. Perhaps double or triple that of your previous home.
- Every system is larger and will cost more to repair or replace.
- Your heating, cooling and electricity bills will be higher.
- With more room, more stuff, there is more upkeep and repairs.
- You will feel the pressure to buy a nicer car to align to the house.
- Because the neighbors all have very expensive homes, you will find yourself with a constant pressure to keep up.
This last point is something folks don’t factor in. Pride. Often called “keeping up with the Jones’,” we all think we are immune, but often aren’t. I saw this on another walk around town, two houses, side-by-side that each built ice rinks in their front yards:
I would be willing to bet that the ice rink in the second photo was built AFTER the other one, because it is bigger. That there is an element of oneupsmanship in it.
(It should be noted that my wife and I rent a VERY reasonably priced apartment in this town. I didn’t want to give the impression we live in a house like any of these!)
Okay, back to your writing career…
It’s easy to look at other writers who have found great success, and think: “I want THAT!” But you have to consider the type of writing career that is the right fit for your life, for your goals and lifestyle. When you just go for scale, and don’t have the resources, success will be hard won, but quickly lost as well. Oftentimes, you may not even have the inclination for the type of maintenance that success of that magnitude requires. That to maintain your success, you are constantly expending resources and doing things you may not want to. We all assume that going on TV, doing big book tours, being interviewed are all wonderful things. And the validation of them is, as is the reach in extending your audience, and connecting with like-minded folks. But with this success comes hard work. Pressure. And perhaps even judgement from others.
Maybe that kind of success is a perfect fit for you. But maybe it’s not.
With building your audience for your work, too often people just want to get on the Today show (be exposed to a large audience), give a good performance, and then assume everything is on rails after that. You simply need to react to all the good offers, selectively saying YES. But it’s a ton of hard work. Successful people work insanely hard. There is so much preparation, decisions, work to keep it going, and the pressure that goes along with it can be overwhelming.
Is that the writing career you want?
What resources do you have? How much time will you spend? Not IF you have a platform, but what TYPE of platform will you develop which aligns to your goals?
Next to that house I mentioned above sits this house; if this small, humble house represents an author platform, is it good enough for you?
Is it good enough to develop an author platform, a writing career, that allows room enough for time to other activities: your family, work, hobbies, friends? Big enough to support you and your writing career, but not so large that it overwhelms you?
That it is enough to matter, but not so much that it crushes you.
What is the right fit for you?