It’s hard to believe that it’s coming up on the one year anniversary of the release of Silenced. I joked that after writing The Intoxicated Books, I didn’t plan on writing another series for quite some time, claiming a serious series hangover.
In all honesty, it was more of an author hangover.
I’ve never been a mainstream author, shirking most of the popular conventions of the self-publishing industry and more or less doing whatever the hell I want. I’m good with the fact that I’ll never win any popularity contests, and I’ve embraced that. You may have noticed that by taking a quick peek at my cover art, which lacks the usual hallmarks of almost kissing lovers or bare chested specimens of hotness. Or you flipped to the first page and realized that each book in the series began with a poem – never again on that one, because my poetry days are over.
With that in mind, I didn’t pay for advertising for the release of my fifth book. I quietly distributed it to some trusted friends and blogger types, and sat back and sort of disappeared. My work was done, and I had lots of other things to attend to.
The past year of my life has been largely spent living in a sort of dream world. Sure, there were some difficulties along the way, but by and large everything has changed for the better. Since I’ve been away, I’ve relocated to beautiful North Carolina, where we had the windows open in January. My husband and I built the house I had admired online from six hundred miles away, and now I get to live in it. And I also scored on the working from home front simply by becoming a trailing spouse. Life is good.
I’ve largely been an observer in the writing community for the past twelve months, and what I’ve seen doesn’t exactly fill my heart with joy. There’s a lot of negativity and anger on both sides of the equation. Readers are complaining about pricing, cliffhangers, series being too long or too short, you name it. Authors are upset about exposure, sales, reviews, whatever. The foul smell that has risen from the depths of social media in general has permeated what used to be my happy place, and I don’t like it.
While both sides have some valid points, every time I open up Facebook or Twitter, it seems like all the content I see is depressing instead of uplifting. True, life isn’t ever going to be perfect, but it seems like by and large we are forgetting what brought us to this party to begin with. Books. Characters. Stories that keep you reading way past your bedtime. Plots that stick with you long after the last page has been read.
Readers love to consume them. Authors love to create them. Right?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am extremely blessed that I don’t have to do this for a living. I have a fabulous job that pays the bills. Writing is fun for me. While I take it way too seriously to consider it my hobby, it’s not responsible for paying my mortgage, or my electric bill, or for my groceries. If I don’t feel like writing for a weekend, or a month, or a year, I just don’t.
Case in point: Chasing Echo was started over a year ago, so a preview could be included at the end of Silenced. I’d originally planned to release it in December of last year, but that didn’t happen. I’ve tinkered with it off and on over the past few months, but it’s really only about halfway done. So I pushed the release date back to September 2017, because I can. No big deal. No pressure.
I realize that I’m lucky to be able to do that. I know there’s plenty of other authors out there who have a strict release schedule, and a decision like that just wouldn’t fly. I’ve seen apologies posted on Facebook for books being delayed a couple of weeks – like writers are afraid that they’ll lose their fan bases if they don’t deliver on what was probably an unrealistic goal in the first place.
Nobody said a damn word when I changed the release date for Chasing Echo, even though it was already up for preorder at most retailers. Of course, since I didn’t publicize that purchase links were live, no one probably knew. I didn’t receive any hate mail, or lose any followers, or have anyone give me any grief.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like for me if my income depended on my writing. If by not making my original release date, I wouldn’t have been able to pay for Christmas presents, or put gas in my car, or so many other things. I’m so glad I never have to find that out.
Realistically, even though by some people’s accounts, I’m successful at this writing gig, I know for me it’s never going to be something that I can do full time. I’ve grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle that is in part supported by my 9-6. I would have to consistently sell tens of thousands of books annually in order to replace that income, and that’s never, ever, going to happen. I don’t see myself selling tens of thousands of books total before I die, and I’m only thirty-eight. I hope I have a lot of time left to keep writing and keep selling.
So my take away from all this as I re-enter the fold is to keep doing this thing that I love. To keep creating on whatever timeline feels right, and not worry about what impact it has on the bottom line. For me, there is no bottom line, and there won’t ever be.
I began writing when I was young, much like the cliched story that most of us author types tell. It took me until 2012 to have the guts to actually do it for others to potentially read. But ultimately, I do this for myself. Somehow, I’m fortunate enough to have amassed a readership, however small, because of it.
So my promise to you is that I’ll keep doing it my way. The positive way. The way that my stories and my characters deserve. And I can assure you, what you’ll get will be something worth waiting for.