More than twenty-thousand. That's how many times a story of mine has been downloaded or otherwise bought between May 2010 when I began this self-publishing experiment, and today, the end of April 2012. I'm not sharing that number to brag, but rather to convey my total shock at how many people have potentially read my work. The better share of those have been free downloads, so it's not like I've gotten rich off this thing, and in fact I can safely say that any money I've made has been invested right back into marketing myself, with a giveaway here and an order of bookmarks there. On the other hand doing all the formatting and design-work myself has kept my costs low, and that means that while my writing hasn't made me much money, it hasn't lost me any, either. That's been an important factor in keeping this whole experiment away from the territory of "it's a shame what happened to that guy" and safely in the realm of "as long as it makes him happy".
So all I've really put into this has been my time, two years of it, which of course is valuable in its own right. Time is money, etcetera, and that's not even talking about all the hours I've spent of my life writing, all that putting words down and deleting them, all that editing and thinking and focusing on things that aren't real. Good practice, all of it, and all of it taking up time. I could have had a complete second job in that time and been making real money, but how much of our time do we really spend doing things of actual value, versus time wasted watching television and sitting on the internet, playing games or screwing around in the yard? I would argue that I didn't waste any of the time I spent writing. I would argue that I did have a second job.
The reason I'm thinking about all of this is the same reason I came up with that big number I mentioned. You see I had to crunch some numbers because there's someone who has expressed strong interest in being my manager, someone who can help me develop my work and put it in front of the right people. Back before May of 2010 I was doing my best to get someone's attention, anyone who might be willing to represent me and get my name out there, but when that proved to be difficult I changed directions and dove into the new arena of self-publishing that was happening around me. Now two years later one of those people has contacted me, and he did it because he read a few of those things I'd self-published and saw some something in them. And he's even a nice guy.
Nothing is official yet, and I may be talking about this too early if the whole deal ends up falling apart in my hands (though so far I don't see it happening), but even then I would treat this experience as a success, because I did what I set out to do- I got someone's attention, not by way of gimmicks or shouting at them, but by the merit of my work, or at least the potential in it. It's either ironic or very fitting that this comes so soon after someone tried to use my writing against me, to defraud a bit of cash out of me, because even when that setback happened I didn't let it frustrate me, and instead made a conscious effort to take it in stride and laugh it off (see my last post). For now at least good things are happening, and its given the last two years a sweet validation, to know that even if it may take a while to go from the place I am now to a place where I don't need a day job anymore, but can rather support my wife and myself with my work, the waiting will be easier, and angled increasingly upward. If nothing else I've earned myself more than twenty-thousand pairs of eyes to watch me stumble there.