(Excuse typos. It’s been a long day but wanted to get this done before I disappear back into my cave to get Indebted #2 ready for release.)
So…I’ve been thinking of the best way to do this blog post. Started writing it, decided against it, started again…couldn’t be bothered. The usual procrastination.
But the past few days has solidified something that has been creeping over me for the last month or so, and either because I’ve made the decision in my heart, or because I’m seeing it happening for a lot of authors, I’ve decided to put it out there so it’s in black and white.
You all know I’m a huge advocator of positive thinking, chasing dreams, that whole spiel. I won’t repeat myself. Well, I’m not a hypocrite in that area; I do this the majority of the day and monitor my thoughts for positivity. HOWEVER, another key thing to keeping positive and successful things in your life is by believing they are there to STAY.
And I haven’t been doing that.
I’ve been killing myself chasing this dream I want SOOOO damn badly. I wake up every morning bouncing with joy for the chance to sit on my butt and fall into the imaginary world where I get to spend the day torturing, making love to, and playing puppet master to my creations. There is no better job than doing the one you were put on this earth to do. And it would never have been possible without the immergence of eBooks, amazon, the internet, and social media.
Technology not only enriched our lives with pen-friends half-way around the world who are now our best-friends and in constant communication with, but also created avenues for people who might never had had the opportunity to write for a living to flourish.
I’m one of the those lucky people.
And despite the success I’ve found, I still don’t think I’m anywhere close to the trail blazers who went before me. I’m talking the complete originals who flipped the bird to the stigma that self-publishing was the cheap and nasty way out for ‘losers’ who couldn’t get a publisher, and made it the more preferred avenue. They are the Rockstars of my profession and I never get over the awe I feel when I get to speak to one of them.
Again, life made my dreams come true but not only gave me success in self-publishing, but also the opportunity to be published by a traditional house, Hachette. This large publisher has been nothing but supportive and kind to me, and I was also lucky enough to sign with an agent who goes to bat for me on foreign rights and all the other stuff that comes with a successful writing career.
All of that should make me jump for joy. I’ve hit the USA Today list three times, New York Times twice, and had the most amazing year of my life. I pinch myself and it still doesn’t seem real.
But it is.
I’m in a prime position to take my chosen path as far as I want to.
So why do I feel as if it will end tomorrow?
Is it because I want it too much and it petrifies me to think of it all being over?
Is it because I’m afraid of making a wrong step and releasing a book that ruins my chance at making it?
Or is it because I’m terrified I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked so hard for in a rapidly growing market?
Probably all of the above, which is why I drove myself to the point of exhaustion, wrote so much I screwed up my eyes, didn’t exercise, didn’t talk to my hubby, and ate, slept, dreamt writing. I NEVER switched off. I was either on my laptop or tablet or phone. I was completely addicted to keeping my presence online, so no one forgot about me while the indie world exploded.
Needless to say that isn’t healthy.
Like at all.
And even though I KNEW that I was running myself into the ground, I couldn’t stop the deep-seated need to keep going. Just keep going. Keep sprinting. Never stop. I kept chasing an end goal thinking the moment I made it this crazy dream would be all over and I’d have to move onto the next thing.
But that’s WRONG.
Flat out wrong.
I know I’m not the only author out there who sees how manic the indie world has become. How many awesome new releases are published every day, how many new authors are streaking past others, and how the mentality of scarcity is creeping back in.
I got sucked into it to.
I kept thinking if I don’t release another book in a week, I’ll be forgotten. If I don’t deliver a book that EVERYONE loves, I’ll be forgotten. If I don’t keep up my twitter and Facebook page four times a day, I’ll be forgotten.
If I don’t…
If I don’t…
The never ending carrousel of stupid pointless undermining worry that is ruining all my talk of positivity.
Know what I realized?
Yes, the market is a lot busier than last year, hell even last month. Yes, there are some amazing kickass books being released every second, and yes that means readers have a lot more delicious material to get lost in and less hours in the day to do it.
But is it a death sentence? HELL NO.
Only a fraction of the world actually owns a kindle or an eBook device. There are still more paperback sales than eBook sales and will continue to be this way for years to come, but there will also be more people joining the eBook revolution. Every birthday and Christmas, someone will be gifted a kobo or kindle and the joy of reading in Eink will be spread far and wide.
Not only does it mean MORE success for everyone, but more material for the reader.
It doesn’t mean the market is going to implode in a few years. If anything, this is just the beginning.Sure there will be a huge influx of other talented writers and crazy good books that will stand out above the rest, but that doesn’t matter. Be grateful for them, happy for them, because ultimately it has nothing to do with me or you.
The only thing in my control is:
Write a damn good book.
Write quality not quantity.
Keep a good balance.
Create proper work hours and find down time to be more productive.
A good friend of mine, who I deeply respect has been going through the same soul-searching realisation I have. Unfortunately, her stress levels were worse than mine and she’s paying the price poor thing. But, all it took was looking at her daughter and realizing the most important thing. LIVING. Lili St. Germain wrote her own post about her decisions with her writing career which you can read here.
In the words of Jasinda Wilder, HM Ward, Bella Andre and all the greats…THIS IS NOT A RACE. IT’S A MARATHON.
Those words really resonated with me, and I really stopped to think. Yes, I’m freaking out to think that I’ll be yesterday’s news, but I’ve grown up a little and found that blissful thing I was missing –relaxation.
I’m relaxed now about my future, my goals and what I can achieve. I’ve relaxed knowing that as long as I‘m doing what I love, writing books that I enjoy, and interacting with readers who make my life a joy, I will ALWAYS have this. It won’t be going anywhere, because I was born to be a writer and I will never stop.
I can’t tell you how ‘centred’ and complete I felt when I finally let that conclusion sink into my soul. The stress of sprinting toward a non-existent finish line, the fear of not being online 24 hours a day, and concern of fading into the background just evaporated. I found my productivity went from 5,000 words every other day to 15,000 words a day, purely because I went back to my roots. WRITING. I’m an author. Sure, I run my own business and social media is just as important as getting a book out on time, but my imagination is where I find my Zen and I was able to get back to that happy place.
And because of that soul searching, I wrote the best book since I started this crazy journey. Ruin & Rule came together in four weeks. It was the easiest book to date to write, and I’m beyond happy to hand it into Grand Central today to start getting it ready for the market in 2015.
The joy I found from writing Ruin & Rule also reminded me of another important fact which I lost touch with.
Ultimately I write for ME. Not for the market, not for reviews, not for sales.
Tears of Tess was PURELY for me—and it’s my bestselling book to date.
Ruin & Rule was purely for me, too—I got rid of all thoughts of handing it into the publisher, because I knew I would self-censor like crazy and wouldn’t deliver the book I wanted. It worked. I LOVED writing that story.
And…as much as it will surprise some people, Indebted is just for me, too. Now, Debt Inheritance is my worst reviewed book so far. At the time it literally killed me. Split open my heart and I seriously wanted to pull the book and forget all about Jethro and Nila. But…time heals all wounds and makes big problems seem small.
Know what I realized? People can’t see the full story yet, so they have to review their feelings on the part of the story they can see RIGHT NOW. I get that. The topics are controversial subjects, and it’s a dark romance with taboo elements with some actions that won’t sit well with some people. But…it’s set in a setting that I’m in love with (old English estates) it has the rebel world of bikers, the seedy underbelly of diamond smugglers, the beauty and grace of couture and fashion, and a love story that is full of angst, betrayal and a slow burn that will all make sense in the end.
I very nearly pulled back from finishing this series, in fact I went so far as to scrap what I already had for the following book, but then I thought…I’ll write a bit more just for me. No one has to see it. I dropped all memories of bad reviews, and dived into the world that has only just begun. And I loved it.
I loved it so much in fact, I know I can’t stick to the original plan of each book only being a novella. I made an announcement on my Facebook page last week, saying each book in the Indebted series (up to 6 books) will be all full length of approx 250-300 pages. I didn’t expect many people to reply because hell, it seemed that not many people were enjoying the series. Turns out, I was unbelievably wrong. For every one person who didn’t like it ten did. That post went viral and had more comments, more likes, and more views than most of my posts for months.
And that was the final paper umbrella in my happy cocktail of positivity.
Indebted is PURELY for me. It will always be written the way I want it with no input or fear of reviews. I’ll publish it for people who want to come along on the journey. The rights have already been sold for Italian translations and audio will be done on the first two books very soon—so I know there is a market for this twisted tale of debts and a storyline that makes no sense yet. However, I’m being selfish and keeping it all to myself. I will market it as controversial, I will publish every edition, and I will not censor myself, so be warned that Indebted will continue to be slightly crazy and full of questions.
BUT, in saying that I also realize it’s time for me to start to branch out. Dark Romance got me onto the map of self-publishing, and I will never stop writing gritty taboo subjects—it’s in my blood. But at the same time, evolution has to happen to all of us and I’ll be branching into other genres in the future.
You already know of Ruin & Rule which is an Motorcycle romance and Forbidden Flaws which is purely an erotic contemporary (it will still have a grey twist but the storyline will be more mainstream) and I have a lot of other projects in the works that will be coming soon.
If you’ve read this far, then thank you. I know it was a bit of a jumble of thoughts and probably doesn’t make complete sense, but it’s my way of putting it out there, so if I ever start feeling insecure of my place in this crazy world, I can come back and remind myself that as long as I deliver a good product, stay true to myself, and never stop learning how to be a better writer, failure doesn’t have any power in my future.
To all the writers out there, if you’re stressed, running around like headless chickens, ignoring your families to pump out another 1000 words before bedtime, or turning into an insomniac monster because you can’t unglue yourself from your tablet…
Take stock of your achievements.
Pat yourself on the back.
Turn off your Wi-Fi.
The muse and readers will thank you for it, because you’ll be around for a lot longer and will never suffer that dreaded burn out that seems to follow success. I was lucky to smell the smoke before I went up in flames, and promise to you and myself that I’m not going anywhere—whatever the future holds.