When to stop Writing?

A smart fellow named Howard Wand asked a simple question on his FB feed this morning…Do more experienced authors have any advice for authors who are reluctant to self-publish any more books because of the prohibitive cost?
Suffice it to say his feed exploded.
Much of the discussion revolved around a reply that it costs thousands of dollars to properly self-publish a book, and many viewers replying that this was far too much to spend and someone was overpaying for covers and/or editing.
That’s all well and good, but it seems to me the essential question is, when does an author know they’re a good enough writer to continue slogging on in the business in hopes of one day succeeding?
This is a tough one.
In no particular order, here are my best tries at an answer:
1) enter writing contests and get feedback from judges. Particularly, enter contests judged by Big 5 editors in your genre. if nothing else, you’ll get a comparison of where your writing stacks up against other aspiring authors in your genre.
2) What do your reviews say? Or are you selling so badly that no one at all is reviewing you? In which case…
3) hire a professional editor with actual credentials and insist on their most brutally honest comments and suggestions.
4) Ask your most brutally honest friends–who would be willing to tell you to your face that you suck as a writer–to read your work and give you feedback. I find that I have to practically bully my friends into doing this. Bless them.
5) Take a hard, honest look at your writing and compare it to books that are doing reasonably well in your chosen genre. This one is difficult to do, of course.
Now, it’s entirely possible that you’re every bit as good as the top authors in the field. In that case, you’ll need to dig in hard to what how more successful authors are doing to connect with readers and make their books visible that you’re not doing.
6) What’s your fatal flaw as a writer? Which is to say, author, know thyself. And this is the hardest thing of all to do.
I can tell you that most writers have a blind spot of some kind regarding their work Meaning, we all have some quirk or flaw that we struggle to see when we look at our own writing.
Mine is that I tend to over-write exciting action and forget the emotional journey of the reader. But over the years, I’ve learned to be hyper vigilant about that tendency in my work.
7) If you’re making NO money as a writer and asking yourself how much more good money to pump down the drain after bad, it’s time to ask yourself the following:
–Do you have real talent?
–Do you passionately love writing?
–Are you will to write for as long as it takes to get discovered?
–How much money can you afford to invest into your writing before you start to get any income?
–Are you willing to continue writing for the long-term without making any money for the sheer love of it?
The fact is, writing for money isn’t for everyone. If you managed to finish one book and gather the resources to publish it, that’s something to be proud of. But it doesn’t mean you have to keep banging your head against the wall until your forehead is bloody.
There’s a balance to be struck between art for art’s sake and business for business’ sake. This question of whether or not to continue publishing boils down to a balancing act between art and business. Hence, this is a deeply personal choice for each author, and no one answer will be the right one for everyone.

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