When I published my first book, I had no expectations. And no one really had expectations of me. My success as an author bloomed and for about a year I was convinced that I was somehow special. Readers were enjoying my books and they were actually reading them. I hit a major milestone for a first time author. I hit the USA Today’s Bestsellers List.
I was selling hundreds of copies of my book a day. Even on a slow day. I was making good enough money that I quit my FT job so that I could become a FT writer. I was living the dream. It was everything I wanted. At least everything I thought I wanted.
And then the market changed. Blame it on Kindle Unlimited. Blame it on the influx of new authors. Blame it on ineffective marketing. Whatever it was, my whole world changed drastically. Sales dropped. And then a month later, my husband lost his job. Suddenly, I was looking at two options. Admit defeat and slowly disappear into the background never to be heard from again, OR continue to publish and publish often. It was obvious that Amazon’s ranking showed favoritism to authors who published often. Even more so now with Kindle Unlimited.
So I made up my mind. I decided that I was going to be like those other authors who published monthly or every few months. I wasn’t going to take six months to a year to write a book. I felt and still feel that I needed to keep up with the demand for new books that readers were requesting. Sadly, financially, I had to. Except I forgot two little things when I decided this. The first being I’m not a particularly fast writer and the second what about marketing? In my previous research, I’d come to the realization that I needed at least three months of heavy marketing to sell well. Otherwise no one would know about my book. And I basically threw that to the wind.
And it was one of my biggest mistakes with Drawn to You. The second book in my Millionaire’s Row Series. While it was a story I was passionate about…A story I thought would blow away Bound to You. Financially it didn’t. I say this knowing that I have many readers that love Tristan and Emily’s story. But for me, it was a story I felt rushed to write. Readers were hungry for it and I had made promises I wanted to keep.
So I wrote it and published it. It was completely different from Bound to You. In every way, including how I marketed it. Because I really didn’t and it really showed. Sure, it sold. In comparison to other books, it sold spectacularly well. But in my eyes, it was a failure. It wasn’t the story that I wanted it to be. Even worse because it was a lot larger than I expected story wise. It wasn’t something I could wrap up in 70k words. So I left readers with an unsatisfying ending. Promising more soon.
But soon came and passed. I couldn’t touch the story. Months passed. I wrote some and then deleted it. How could I add onto a foundation I didn’t believe was properly built? No way. I’ve tried. So I’ve resolved myself to going back to the first three volumes and fixing it before publishing the final volume. A year has passed and nothing has changed. Although I still haven’t given up on it.
In the meantime, I thought why not try something new? Why not try to continue with the idea of publishing often. So I started writing Hollywood Beauty and Addicted to You and got stuck on both in the editing phase. Deadlines passed. Promises unkept. I was starting to pick up really bad habits. I was starting to lose readers and I couldn’t stop. I was also losing money and I wasn’t making very much back, so I made promises to force my hand to publish.
I couldn’t stop myself from making promises because the stories were right there. Sitting on my computer. So close. Yet so far. And yet in the end I couldn’t let them go because in my eyes they weren’t perfect and still aren’t. But I put myself in a corner by telling readers I would publish them. Promoting them before I felt ready to let them go.
I cancelled preorders last minute because money was starting to become a big issue. I couldn’t afford an editor. I couldn’t afford to pay to market my books correctly. Readers were upset and rightly so. Not because I owed them something, but because I didn’t keep my promise. My promises should’ve meant something, but they were starting to mean nothing. I broke them over and over. Many of my readers were forgiving. They knew the pitfall of despair our family was financially in and the stress that came with it. But many were angry and were quick to tell me so. They were quick to tell me that they were disappointed that I wasn’t publishing fast enough. That I couldn’t keep my promises.
So for six months, I put a hold on publishing. And I just wrote. I started working on multiple projects. One that included a series of standalone novellas. Three that would include fairy tale retellings because well, I love fairy tales. I was excited and I was planning on releasing them one after another.
The first one was Filthy Beast.
I was scared about releasing this one. I wasn’t sure if people would like it. If people would get what I was trying to do and how I was tying it to a the struggles of being an author. How lonely it really is. How the anxiety you feel and the expectations of others can permanently scar you. Block you. Break you.
I felt broken.
I released the book without much promotion. I was scared. I loved the story, but I didn’t have faith in it. Because after not writing for so long and after losing so many readers, I thought well they’ll probably hate it. I got the opposite reaction. People told me how much they loved it. How it was one of the best things I’ve written. Although my sales numbers showed otherwise.
But again, the market is a very different monster than it was in 2014 (when Bound to You was published) and I didn’t exactly promote Filthy Beast the way I should’ve. Still I went on to promoting my next project, the next book in the Filthy Fairy Tales Series. That was Filthy Prince. I underestimated my readiness to let this book go. I wasn’t ready.
I had plans of publishing it in August, but August came and went and I pushed the release date to September. September came and I started tweaking the book again, which led to a complete overhaul. I wasn’t satisfied. Then I decided to give readers the option to preorder the title, which was great except that I couldn’t afford my current editor. So, I decided to try a new one. Another mistake. Another push back.
Fast forward to today…I lost a good number of edits for Filthy Prince this weekend. I’m currently having to go back and implement several of them now. Unfortunately, I had to cancel preorders because I wasn’t about to upload an unpolished file. Is this starting to seem familiar? Because this is starting to feel like the same vicious circle that I was in before. My public image is starting feel unsalvageable. I’m untrustworthy for releases. And I hate that. I don’t want readers wondering if this will be the final push back or if I’m pulling the book all together.
And yet, this is the grave I’ve dug myself.
So how do I get out? How do I fix this? Do I start over? A part of me wants to step back and revaluate everything. Maybe in a year I’ll have a different outlook on being an author. Maybe in a year, I’ll stop trying to push myself to be like other authors. Maybe I’ll finally learn to be me. Learn that I don’t need to make promises in order to keep readers interested. Learn that my stories can stand on their own.
Can I resurrect myself? Or is this the end? I really don’t know.