So… I’m something of a people pleaser, but I like to pretend that I’m just being ambitious. It’s a little easier that way sometimes. If you tell someone that you want to make everyone happy, they kind of look at you funny, as if they’re thinking that’s not possible and you’re a crazy person. If you tell someone you’re ambitious, they think that’s wonderful and inspirational, though. I think that’s kind of weird, but oh well. Who am I to judge?
I think it’s fun to make people happy. When I’m writing, I can make my characters happy, too, you know? And then someone reading about those characters can be happy that they’re happy, and I can create this wonderful cycle of happiness and magical wonder and all of that. It’s all very pleasant and nice.
When I started indie publishing, my goals were a little different, though. I guess I was a little more selfish in a way? I mean, I wanted people to enjoy my writing, yes, but I also wanted to be able to quit my job at the time, because it wasn’t very fun. I think jobs should be fun; that’s my main criteria for them. If you like what you’re doing, and you can survive while doing it, then that’s a good job, no matter what it is.
Things kind of changed over time, though. I guess “ambition” sneaks in there, but I think I just wanted to make more people happy, too. I delved into writing longer works, and series stories so that the characters could keep living on. People liked those, and they’re some of my more popular stories, which is nice because I like writing those, too. Some of them are kind of strange, while others are silly, and then more are oddly erotic in a peculiar way?
I got a review once that explained it better, I guess. Here is a snippet from that:
“I will admit from the very start I was turned on. It was like this horrible porn video and I couldn’t look away at first and I was getting off on it… at first. The first chick is just banging everyone and it’s kind of hot. She seems to have cum everywhere and I kept wondering who or what she was going to do next and where this story was going. The Beast is literally a fucking hair ass, big cocked beast that just wants to impregnate women.” ~ Mistress M, S&M’s Book Obsessions
So… I mean, she gave the book 2 stars, but she was aroused for parts of it, so I’m going to consider that a good thing? Maybe? I don’t really know, haha.
Everything’s not for everyone, but I like to write a little bit of everything sometimes. It’s more fun that way, and you can reach more people. I don’t think I go too overboard, except maybe with that story. The review above is from uh… well, it’s “different,” I guess you could say? There’s, er… sex with kitchen utensils (they’re magical), a dress dummy (that’s magical, too), sex with the thornless vines from a magical rose (that’s magical, too), and then there’s just other sex. It’s a lot of sex, but I like to think it’s nice because there’s sort of a happy ending and it’s supposed to be an erotic fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so…
(Random Field Trip: Did you know that’s one of my favorite Disney movies? My book isn’t really anything like the Disney movie, but that’s alright)
I like to write these things that I think maybe people will like. But after awhile, I wanted to do more, too. Like… what if someone wants to buy a paperback copy? I could do giveaways! On Goodreads! That might make someone happy? So I made some paperbacks, and they’re neat.
Audiobooks! People could listen to them in the car! I don’t know if I’d suggest that, because being aroused in a car seems slightly dangerous, but a nice bubble bath would be nice, too. And, I mean, they have good stories, I think, so you don’t necessarily need to be aroused or anything. Most of my audiobooks are romance-y anyways, so it works.
And I like to help the narrators of those out, too. Some of them are newer to professional voice work, so they can use the audiobooks as a staging ground for more, you know?
So… where am I going with this?
This is just personal opinion, but I think that’s one of the things that sets various writers apart. Being ambitious and wanting to please people might seem like they have similar results, but in reality I don’t know if that’s true. If you just want to -do- more, but you don’t care if it makes people happy, then what is the goal? It’s certainly possible it’d work out for someone, but I don’t know if it leads to a lasting, nice happiness, you know? If you want to do more because you want to help people, or you want to make them happy, or anything, it seems better to me. You might gain a lot from it, too, just as being ambitious and taking risks can bring you great benefits, but I think you can build more as a writer if you care about the people who are reading your writing, too.
You can see this kind of thing in a lot of aspects of writing. Some I agree with, and some I don’t, but I believe that a lot of writers are looking to make people happy with what they do. Audrey Niffenegger initially didn’t want to release The Time Traveler’s Wife as an e-book, because she didn’t want to devalue the story (I’m paraphrasing that). Even now, you can only buy that particular e-book from Zola Books, which is kind of an indie, small-time retailer. While I think that’s a little weird/crazy, I respect the fact that she had a reason and purpose for doing it and she wanted to make that book/that story better for people by doing what she did.
Stephen King has done similar things where he offered cheap e-books directly from his site. I forget the exact situation for that, but this was before e-books were really a thing. I believe he was only charging $1 (or even less? Taking donations, letting people choose their own price? I forget). I’m pretty sure a lot of people paid for it, though. He gave them something cheaply, and readers offered him their support in return.
Piers Anthony recently announced that he’ll be self-publishing his next Xanth book, because it lets him release it within 2 months instead of having to wait years going through a traditional publisher. Books really do get tied up for a long time if you go the traditional route, and while it can be worth it in some ways, it’s not very reader-friendly in others.
These are well-known, “professional” authors, but there’s tons of indie authors that are like that, too. I think it’s something you can tell, though. You can see a writer’s passion for not only his/her writing, but for their fans and readers, too. Writers who want to make you happy are the ones that I think will go on to be some of the best.
As a writer myself, that’s my goal, anyways. Money helps, of course, because I need to live like anyone, but my main goal in making writing my career and profession is to make people happy. For writers, one of the nicest things is when a fan/reader reaches out and tells us how we made them happy, too. I always feel a little warm and fuzzy afterwards, as if I’ve done something wonderful and amazing. I mean, technically I just wrote some words, but words have power sometimes, you know?
So… if you agree, then I’d suggest going out and making someone happy! It’ll make you happy, too, I bet. You don’t have to do a lot to make someone happy. Just read a book. If you read a book, and you like the book, then I’m pretty sure the author will be happy. You can tell them if you want, but it’s not 100% necessary. Or just tell your mother that you really like the way she makes meatloaf. That’s a nice thing, and it’ll make her happy. If she doesn’t make good meatloaf, maybe choose something else, but still, it’ll work.
Feel free to be ambitious, but also don’t forget that it’s not a bad thing to try and make people happy, too.