One thing no writing manual will ever teach you is balance. How do you balance your imagination with the business side of things, on top of your other life responsibilities, and do it all without working yourself to madness? I can tell you it’s really, really, ridiculously hard to do–and I have it fairly easy, all things considered.
Last year in January, I made myself a commitment to do anything and everything I could to get my name out there. It would be my year to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and just go balls-to-the-wall. Well, I did. I spent 90% of 2016 posting in Facebook groups, running ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, making videos (one featuring me, which was hands down the most awkward, uncomfortable experience ever), sending swag and books to any book event that would take them, submitting books for review, and compulsively checking my sales and reviews across all platforms. I did all of this almost daily.
And I was absolutely miserable doing it. Not only did I have less time to write, I had precious little will to do it, either. Focusing so hard on sales stressed me out so much it almost completely ruined any joy I always took in crafting my tales. Hard to tell with two releases on the books for last year, but what you won’t see is that Dragonblood was mostly finished in 2015, and all I did on it last year was edits.
The only new work I wrote in 2016 was Catch Me and that was fueled by pure spite. Nevertheless, writing it was about the most fun I had with writing last year, and it made me realize how badly I’ve mistreated my muse. I was also watching authors quit left and right, and publishers and eBook stores going under. I got tunnel-visioned into drama and bad news everywhere I looked, and there was little old me, the year I was supposed to have made it big and retired from the day job to write full time, still spinning my wheels in place while that shining goal seemed to be getting farther and farther out of reach. It was the bleakest I have ever felt about the book industry and my place in it.
I think my friends even got tired of listening to me whine about the failure I thought I was. And that made me feel worse, because that’s not me. I may be a realist, but when it comes to my writing career, I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person. Yet there I was bitching and moaning about all the things I didn’t have instead of being grateful for this amazing gift of being able to share my stories with the world. Seriously. It was bad.
So this year in January, I swore to myself I would do things differently. I’d scheduled a year’s worth of social media posts last December so I wouldn’t have to even think about it this year (I have since been made aware that two posts per week on Twitter and two more on Facebook and G+ was woefully underprovisioning, but that’s another story), and I decided to just write. Forget about everything else, and just do what I love to do. Back to the basics of the olden days when I’d blissfully scribbled away in notebooks during college classes, between classes, on the bus ride to and from classes… In those days, I would write whatever came to mind, and it didn’t matter if it was for a novel, novella, short story, dream journal, or random scenario database. I just needed to write down the flood of ideas swirling in my head morning, noon, and night.
This year, I didn’t even want to think about numbers, or marketing, or promotions. I wanted to reclaim that innocent joy of creating things for their own sake. I wanted to bask in the bliss of unfettered creative flows, regardless of length, genre, or series designation. Basically, I desperately needed a break from the business to focus on the art. That zeal has turned into Dearest Love, an erotic romance novella 20,000 words longer than originally planned, four horror/macabre short stories, a longer science fiction story, and a decent word count on both Prince of Deceit and Sweetest Kiss.
And that’s not even counting other stuff I can’t/won’t talk about, which is another roughly 40,000 words of fictional awesomeness. I have also created a whole lot of quote graphics, a few covers for future works, I redecorated my website, rewrote my author bio… you get the idea. If creativity equated to exercise, I’d be an Olympian by now. And it’s only mid-year.
And I am so not done yet.
Want to know something else? I am excited to be a writer again, enjoying the hell out of every late night and working weekend.
In summation, I have gone from one extreme last year, to the other extreme this year. I don’t necessarily think either is the right way to go–I’m still working on figuring out a comfortable middle ground for me personally–but at the end of the day, I’d much rather be happy than miserable.
Dear readers, I love you all more than words can say, and I am so very grateful to all of you for allowing me to share my stories with you. Some of you have read every story I’ve ever published, regardless of genre. You have no idea how much that trust and loyalty means to me. It’s because of you that I can keep going, keep writing anything and everything that’s in my heart. Some of you have only read that one series you really loved, and won’t acknowledge I have written anything else outside of that. Do you know how amazing that is to me, to know you loved a particular story to the exclusion of everything else? That is an amazing amount of passion I am humbled to have wrought.
I know I’m an all-over-the-place kind of writer, and that makes me difficult to follow at times. Worse, I can’t even tell you I’ll curb that impulse in the future, because odds are I most definitely will not. All I can do is promise you that whatever I write in the future, it will be as good or better than the stories you’ve already read and loved.
What’s in the works:
- Prince of Deceit is still on the docket. I took a small break from it, but I promise you, it’s still coming and I will keep you updated on progress, release date, etc.
- The Rebel Court Series still has my full attention as well, and with every volume I write, I become more convinced that an eight installment will likely happen after its conclusion. I am keeping it hush-hush for the moment, but it’s rattling around in my brain a lot these days.
- Here There Be Monsters will be an on-going project. I don’t currently have a definite plan for it, except that I intend to keep adding to it over time, and at some point it will be a published anthology of short stories.
- Blood and Shadows has also been on my mind lately. I have some ideas for adding to the series, which I am still mulling over. I won’t go into it lightly, however, so I want to give it time to fully mature in my mind before I commit to it.
That’s about a ten-book plan right there. LOL Should keep me busy for quite a while, don’t you think?
I wan to say THANK YOU again to all of you for sticking with me all these years. Here’s hoping there are many more to come. 🙂
Until next time!
I have done like you. Did a long huge push on the sales side, and blog hps, helping friends, trying to do the newsletter swap even. I find I start slacking on my writing or I don’t enjoy it. Again, like yourself. Currently I’m in the casual marketing now. Even focused more on learning the craft and marketing for a while. The casual marketing doesn’t get me as many sales and as fast, but right now it’s working so I can get more work out and I love what I do again. If we could find a good balance that would be nice but maybe that’ll come down the line.
I agree, I think it’s a trial and error thing. What works for some won’t necessarily work for me. I like the sound of “casual marketing” lol what does that entail, if you don’t mind my asking? I’ve been getting some RTs on Twitter for my freebie tweets. Hasn’t translated into sales, yet, but it’s nice word of mouth, nonetheless. 🙂
It’s pretty much what you see. I talk about the word count, I talk about publishing the books, and do it on my blog for the word counts. Similar to you, I also make those images that have quotes and my website. Or I’m just being active on social media a lot of the time. Followers increased.
I define it as “casual” because I’m discussing the books and publishing them without being AS up front. The more I do, the more active I am, the more I find people interested in my work. Slow growth, but growth overall. Granted there are days where the attitude of social media makes me abandon ship, but overall [right now] it seems to be helping. I also raised the price of my books to see if that would change sales. Same amount sold.
I raised mine for the beginning of the year, since sales are usually higher for me then, but I don’t think it had much of an effect. I then did that sliding scale for my series, and that got me a bit of a response at first, but then dropped off. The pricing game is still a mystery to me.