To celebrate the two year anniversary of my anxiety dragon book, Empath, I’m re-posting the #SlayYourFears series. Basically, I took a leap of faith and wrote about all the things that scared me. I hoped sharing them would help others realize they weren’t alone. Today, I’m talking about my fear of no money.
Check the end of the post for a giveaway and a two year progress report update.
I am afraid that I will run out of money.
Originally Published May 2015
This is a fear that has driven me for years to do things like take a boring day job instead of doing creative things. Now that I’m trying to do creative things instead of the boring day job, I’m coming face to face with this fear.
In 2015, I attended six conventions in eight weeks at the start of the year. I was very nervous about the whole thing. I was already in the hole money-wise on the business. There I was, digging myself in deeper with the hope that I could boost myself out.
The Anghenfil was in my head, the fire-breathing bastard, saying, “What happens if you don’t sell any books? What happens if you end up farther in debt?” That fear ruminated in the back of my head, roaring whenever I put down my credit card to pay for a planet ticket or purchase more books.
I’d get anxious when sales would slow. Then, I’d start chewing off my nails when the minutes ticked by and cash was not exchanged. And when I’d have to lug back a shit-ton of books on the plane, I’d look over my expenses and second-guess everything I ever purchased.
I’d hope that maybe the next one, the next event would be the silver bullet to get me out of the hole, and then, disappointment.
At the end of it all, I lost a lot of money.
The very thing I was afraid of has happened.
In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Oh God, am I going to die? Am I a complete and total failure? Is my dream gone?”
(Spoiler alert: I’m still alive. I’m not a failure. My dream is perfectly in tact.)
Unfortunately, I can’t predict how an event will go, as hard as I try. For example, I thought I’d have 30 of the 80 books leftover in Indy and I sold out at 1pm on Sunday. I thought I could get through 34 books in Chicago and ended up with 16 left. I can’t predict the weather and shit happens. Like in New York, when snow reduced the folks who came out to the event and forced me to make travel changes.
Coping with It
The only thing I can do is to prepare the best I know how.
In the future, I’m not going to be spending as much money on events. This six week mini-tour was mostly a flying adventure (hello flying anxiety), which added another $500 to the cost of the event. I am still gainfully employed by a company that expected me to be in the office Monday mornings. Driving to and from an event was a non-starter. Therefore, I was at the whim of the airline industry – between checked bags (realized that this was a bad idea after the first event) then shipping books to events (upwards of $100 for shipping and handling) and just the price of the tickets themselves, yeesh. And the only event I made money on, I drove to.
And the last thing to remember is that money is not everything. Okay, that’s a lie – it is everything, but money made right now is not the only money ever made. Attending a convention is like planting a seed, or a bunch of seeds. The more books I sell, the more cards I give out, the more seeds I’m tossing. The more cities I toss seeds in, the more chance that those seeds will pollinate (that is, fans who read the book pass it on to their friends).
Soon, everyone will have Razia in their home.
Now is the Start
Case in point: I’ve got a steady stream of purchases for the ebook. And none of this includes Empath. Nor does it account for the folks who received a business card for SGR-P and who are considering hiring me for their edit jobs. Nor does it account for the folks who are still reading Double Life who picked it up more recently, who will turn around and pick up Alliances and the rest of the series.
So yeah, I do have a pretty hefty amount on the credit card. I don’t have a magic wand that will magically make the debt disappear (Update: Yes, I did, it’s called Selling A House and Tax Season). It’s a very long game that is only in the first fifteen minutes. While I didn’t want to lose money, the fact of the matter is, I could at this point because I’m not dependent on the writing to pay my bills. And because at this point I’m planting the seeds, in six months, a year, two years, five years, I’ll be able to reap what I’ve sown.
Yet again, the clear lesson here is you can’t let fear control your life. You can’t let fear stop you from taking risks because you might fail. And if you do fail, don’t ignore the small beginnings of something new that came out of it. Because things didn’t work out right now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
Slay Your Fears: Two Years Later
Of all the fears that I’ve overcome, this is the one I’ve made the most progress on. I was able to significantly reduce my expenses and quit my job in November 2015. After dabbling with a little coffee shop work, I’ve found my stride in freelancing – both editing and some ad hoc SharePoint work. I sold my house in January of this year, and am now dipping my toe into house-flipping, although that isn’t going as fast as I’d like.
The lesson here is that with patience, luck, and hard work, the Universe provides. Instead of panicking and making a jump into something I don’t want because of fear, I bided my time. Eventually, with persistence, I found a few jobs that allow me to continue writing and doing my SGR-P thing. It takes a bit of juggling to make it all work, but it does.
And the publishing company? We’re actually doing remarkably well balancing investments and income. Right now, we’re taking a bit of a new-project-funding hiatus to catch up on publishing nine projects in 2016. Also, with my home life situation up in the air, I didn’t want to commit to events after June. But I’ve got my eye on February 2018 with Demon Spring and Pensacon, so you know I’ll be right back out there.