Writers who keep writing are those who must. Even on the dark days when it seems no one wants to read what they are writing, there’s always one more story they have to get down, one more idea to flesh out, one more perfect first line that leads to a second and third. You catch my drift here. They will gasp out their last breath tapping on a keyboard or with arthritic fingers grasping some writing implement or another.
Those writers will never stop writing because it’s in their blood. It’s in mine.
Publishing is a different kettle of kittens. A writer doesn’t need to publish. Publishing isn’t writing. It’s been my experience that one has very little to do with the other. This might sound like a strange admission coming from a writer with a fifth novel recently released. There are all sorts of reasons to publish--Reach is one, sharing a story through a medium that may be beyond the individual. Some publish for the glory, for the sense of achievement, or the money. Although money has always been the worst of all reasons to publish. Most published authors will agree there is little money in comparison the the hours put in.
I envisioned my stories in the hands of people from every corner of the world. To do that I felt I needed to belong to the publishing community. I saw myself writing everyday, interacting with other writers and readers while my books did the reaching with me. Anything beyond that seemed like a pipe dream.
Books have always been important to me. They are a means to escape when I can’t. A way live in other worlds when my own becomes overwhelming. To be other people and have grand adventures when my life sucks. So, I also wanted to be a part of the book industry. To be blunt, I never expected to earn vast sums or top best seller lists but I also didn’t expect to fail so abysmally as an author.
I write and I spend months revising, then there’s the submission. And then the real work begins. Making a book is incredibly time consuming and involves a number of people. Writing, by comparison, is the easy part. Once it’s done, it’s done. After the book is out there, there is the constant promotion to garner even a couple of sales. In the past, I’ve had days where I spend about 25 minutes working on a story and several hours a day working on promotions. As of today, my latest Something Wicked (released January 20th) is still out of stock on US Amazon and only recently stocked elsewhere. Because stuff happened in publishing, deadlines, and time slots, and miscommunications. Not necessarily anyone’s fault but no less stressful because it isn’t.
Publishing is a business. I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes. I don’t in any sense feel I deserve to sell books. I don’t feel readers owe me reviews or word of mouth. I’m extremely grateful to those who have given me their time. I’m grateful to those who have supported me because I know that’s a gift they didn’t have to share. I’m grateful for the reviews, good, bad, and indifferent. I came into this with what I thought were realistic expectations. It’s not a sense of entitlement. I don’t feel I entitled to have my books read just because I put them out in the world. But I did hope they wouldn’t disappear into oblivion.
I know the reality is that I’ve been lucky. Despite atrocious sales, my publisher continued to believe in me and continued to invest in my work. I will always be grateful for that. I write what I want and don’t limit myself to one genre, age, or even to happy ever after. There isn’t a lot of consistency in what I produce.
The terrible truth is, my books don’t sell. To be honest, they don’t garner a lot of interest in giveaways either. It would appear in the grand scheme, there are very few readers who connect with my style of writing and storytelling. As much as I hate to disappoint faithful readers, my options are change how and what I write or keep writing what I love and step back from publishing before shouting into the void and chucking my work(and the work of all those who help me create my books) into the abyss drives me insane. Neither is ideal, but I know I can’t just write something I don’t believe in. I can’t change how I write.
I’m not one to quit. It’s not in my nature, so this has been an almost impossible decision for me. My instinct is to keep slogging away until the bitter end. But I don’t want to think of publishing with bitterness. I want it to be something I’m proud of and something I may well return to one day. I’m not planning to disappear from the blogosphere or social media and I’m not saying never. I don’t know what the future holds. Maybe I will take another pop at publishing in the future. Maybe my time will come. But for now, I’m taking a break from chasing my next publication to enjoy simply writing for pleasure again.
It’s been a roller-coaster. Thank you for taking the ride with me.