This month will mark the seventh anniversary of the release of my first — and still highest-selling — book.
It was a niche book and it made some minor waves in that space, to the point where it even climbed all the way to #2 in that category on Amazon. It didn’t stay there long, however, and my name never cracked the “Wealthiest Writers” listicles.
It never will.
I started writing (for free) online for a website called I Hate JJ Redick in 2010 and released my first book in May, 2012. Since then, I’ve published eight more books, have had my work featured in others, have been a guest on podcasts and documentaries, and have written for a variety of sites besides my own and Medium, including Business Insider, Fatherly, XXL, Hip Hop Golden Age, and dozens more.
After seven years of that, I’ve made less than $5,000 total. Much less. Such is the world of self-publishing.
I won’t pull back the curtain completely, but below are my stats:
Not bad. In fact, some months were pretty good. There are thousands of writers whose pieces never get a single click or books never sell a single copy, so I’m not complaining.
Still, it’s virtually guaranteed that I’ll never make a living from my work.
The truth is, at least for now, I don’t need to.
I have a successful career outside of the drivel I produce, a career that manages to pay the mortgage in an expensive area, so I have complete freedom when it comes to what I write. I don’t have deadlines or editors to answer to. A couple of sites pay me to write for them from time to time, but I’m under no contract and can decline any topic or idea that doesn’t interest me.
I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to write copy about lawn mowers or ghostwrite the autobiography of a wealthy teenager that believes he’s a man of the people.
I write about what I want, when I want, how I want.
I’ve written pieces on Sofia the First and LeBron James and hip-hop and Thomas Jefferson and writer’s block and my iPod and Batman and IVF and even my gym lock.
I’ve also penned books about sports, films, and music, as well as a collection of short stories, and a novel. One of my books has a sentence per page and a picture of urinals on the cover.
We all write for someone and, for the most part, I write for myself. Sometimes it connects with others, sometimes it doesn’t, but it always connects with me.
I have complete freedom.
I don’t need a marketing budget. I post my work on social media and hope people like and share it, but I don’t need to make back an advance or cover my overhead.
Even better, I don’t need to pitch. I despise pitching. It’s not that I’m just not good at it — I don’t do it. At all. My fear of rejection prevented me from ever properly asking a girl out for most of my life and I have the same paralyzing fear when it comes pitching an idea. I have an enormous amount of confidence in my writing, but it all vanishes when it’s time to convince an editor.
I’ve pitched a piece only once — to a friendly owner/editor at a friendly site. He politely declined, but followed it up with the suggestion that I try again.
Nope. That’ll never happen.
I’ll stick with writing for myself and counting the pennies that come from it.
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.