So as a writer, who am I?
- Un-best-selling author
- Un-award-winning author
- Un-award-winning blogger
That’s a lot of uns and they’re all mine, it’s true. Getting a sale isn’t as easy as it is for other people. Part of it is due to me not doing a bang-up job in promoting myself, but people know me enough to know I write, yet that conversion doesn’t happen as often as you’d think.
The fact is that I’m an indie author and that’s a tough sell. Some people write me off like someone who couldn’t cut it with traditional publishing and had to go the indie route. Still, if I were that good, it wouldn’t be this hard. Right? It’s curious because I know I’ve sold around 27 books in the year, which averages to about 7 books a month. So I’m not exactly blistering the charts either, but I’m not at 0. It’s odd because some people scoff while others are marveled… and I’m not exaggerating.
And reviews? Well it’s been 5 years since I published my first book, which first came out digitally in 2013. It’s gotten 28 reviews on Goodreads and 21 on Amazon. My second novel was published in 2016 and it hasn’t gotten to 10 reviews (funnily enough I get asked all the time when the third book will be done so people can enjoy the series as a whole). My English poetry collections are similar, and my first collection got to 10 reviews on Goodreads recently, quite an odd thing to herald as a milestone, but a milestone nonetheless. My Spanish poetry collection? 1 rating and 1 review. Twenty Veinte, my first bilingual collection, which is actually one of the books I’m proudest of? Similar results. Also, at the moment, I’ve sold 2 Estrada Crates and about 3 books through Libros 787.
All of these could unequivocally categorize me as a failure, and to a certain degree they do. But this isn’t a pity party or a mope fest. I’m sharing several facts in this post to show that paths aren’t easy. Following a passion is not easy. Believing in yourself when the results are not there is not easy. Pushing forwards and continuing to throw caution to the wind is not easy. Listening to your gut is not always easy. There are misgivings. There is hesitation. There is doubt, doubt in general and self-doubt… and some days, it’s relentless.
But I look at what I’ve achieved, and I smile. However much or however little has been achieved is relative to perception and it all depends on the lens. But I have achievements. I know what I stand for. I don’t sacrifice artistic integrity in favor of what appeals to the market. That's because the market changes, while I remain and so does my author name. I publish under my mother’s name, so trust me I do my best to give my best. I don’t hold back in content, in style, in wording, in ideas, in concepts, in topics, in themes, in structure, or anything. I explore who I am through my books and I share them. That’s better than saying I sell them because although I do well at some events, that unicorn of sustainability still eludes and not by a little, but completely. But I do share those works rather well and I’m fortunate that the people who read do enjoy and many do genuinely believe in me even if I don’t grant myself the same kindness.
Some people ask how I stay positive and the answer is simple: with a lot of work.
It’s easy to get tangled up in doubt, anger, frustration, and despair. It’s laughably easy to enter thought patterns wondering why it’s so easy for other people, which is damn silly. It isn’t easy for anyone. Even people who rig the game have to work hard. Even people who post fake reviews and trade like for like have to work hard. And for those who’ve earned their success, ask them how easy it was just to see the look on their face and I suspect the conversation would probably go something like this:
Is it easy?
Not in a million years.
Is it worth it?
Every second. Every hurdle. Every challenge. Every frustration. All of it.
Which can bring us back to the initial question: as a writer, who am I?
I am a poet. A short story writer. A novelist. I am Puerto Rican. A dreamer. A daydreamer. A fool. A wise man. A boy. Everything in between. I am someone who doesn’t always believe in himself but always believes in the words he says. I’m weird like that and in many other sock loving, banana wielding, visual typoing ways. I am someone who offers honest opinions and constructive criticism. I am someone who will help you if he can. I am a cheeky Cheshire grinning monkey as much as I am a pensive tiger. I am read in over a dozen countries even though I don’t have huge audiences. I’m someone who has somehow managed to write things that can make the difference in someone’s life in post, poem, essay, song, story, or novel form. I am someone who doesn’t sacrifice in the name of market share and gives it all in the name of something that is as me as I can make it. I am Only Human which means I’m as heavenly as I am flawed and imperfect. I’m writing my own script rather than following others’ footsteps. I am a man of words who adores dialogue but cherishes silence. I am a husband, a son, a friend, and someone who works hard to show he cares. When I speak I work hard to show that I also listen and not just to myself. I ask for no charity and only request an opportunity and still manage to smile when people say “no, thank you.” Above all else, I am as me as I can be in everything I create, and that’s something a LOT of people can’t say.
Like I said at the beginning, I’m somewhat of a failure… but I’m also somewhat of a success, because what you focus on can say something about the day you’ve had, but the direction in which you insist on walking says a lot about who you are.
And I shall always be me: in thoughts, actions, words, and life.
Peace, love, and maki rolls