vb – (often foll by: on) to chatter or babble pointlessly or at unnecessary length
n – pointless chat; chatter
COLLINS ENGLISH DICTIONARY – COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED, 12TH EDITION 2014 © HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
My old boss and mentor gave me some very sage advice a year ago. We had been discussing my work and publishing endeavors. It came out that while I absolutely loved working with Qamber Designs & Media, I was floundering with my writing career.
I wasn’t sure which direction to go, to be honest.
Yes, I’m always brimming with stories and have lists like y’all wouldn’t believe that will take me at least ten years to pen down. And while I had been studying marketing trends and the publishing industry heavily over the past few years, I cared more for seeing my old friends success than my own.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Sounds like false humility, because what artist really cares more for anyone’s work besides their own? Well, silly it may sound, it’s the honest to God truth. And I have very good reasons for feeling thus.
My publishing journey began with a dream. I researched and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. I reached out to other Indie authors like Melissa Wright, Derrolyn Anderson, Krystle Jones and Kate Avery Ellison. 2012 was a special time in the publishing community. For the first time ever, it was possible for anyone to publish. And ironically enough, these indie authors were bringing in some dough. Many of them had been attempting to publish manuscripts sitting on their shelves for years. Others had a backlog of titles that weren’t in print anymore. Self-publishing and digital books seemed like a way to make dreams come true. I came in during the tail end of these past-recent glory days. And I was lucky enough to reach out to fellow Indie authors and bloggers before the market was flooded. I soaked up their advice. I started a book blog because I was just as passionate a reader. I loved the community behind this new wave of publishing, the rags to riches chances, but mostly, the way everyone was willing to grow together.
I admit now, I was a bit cocky at first.
I felt like I had accomplished something huge because, by the end of 2013, I had published two novels and two novellas. I had participated in two book tours and was reading and blogging alongside the best of them. It was fun and I was still star-struck over the fact real authors took the time to write me back on messenger. My life changed in 2014. Let’s gloss over my life-altering choices today and focus on my disillusionment with the publishing industry.
Smart authors followed the tails of success by writing sequels. I wasn’t smart. Instead, I had the not-so-brilliant idea to write stand-alone’s. From a creative standpoint, there is nothing wrong with that. But from a commercial/business stance, it wasn’t a smart career move. I suffered for it. I fell off the grid for a while, due to some bad experiences, and not just with the booming industry (by this point, traditional presses a.k.a BIG5 had caught on). One of those partnerships I had made in my early days turned south so fast I was struck blind. I was “ghosted” by this person and felt so abandoned and hurt, I retreated back into the real world. I worked and tried to live my life. I thought to myself, one day I’ll publish books again. And I licked my wounds in the dark for a good year or so before I felt ready.
I don’t really enjoy talking about this part of my writing career.
But I know I’m not the only one to have a bad publishing experience. I won’t go into details because I am still grateful to the above-mentioned person for all they taught me about publishing and marketing. Still, I have regrets. We learn best from our mistakes, as they say.
I came back to publishing in late 2015 with Craving Beauty (Wylder Tales Vol 1), my head full of ideas and excitement. I was ready to dive right back where I left off. It had only been a year, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. Boy, was I wrong! In that year, traditional presses had learned to play the game, and play it well. Competition grew fierce. It wasn’t good enough any longer to just click publish and see what happened. Kindle titles were numbering into the millions.
What did I do? I reached out to my writer and publishing industry friends I’d made early on. I was already working with Qamber Designs & Media here and there, and as I went through backlog material, I noticed something that disturbed me. At least half the authors I was looking for had quit writing and publishing. Now, this career isn’t for everyone. You will almost certainly not make your primary income from writing fiction, not in today’s world. But let’s be honest, as long as people have been selling stories, only a few gilded few ever make it to the top.
As dreamers, we cling to those stories, the “rags to riches” we all read about.
Reality isn’t so cut and dry. Most of us struggle and yet we persist, we endure, because we must and we’re passionate about what we do. Sometimes, we forget that passion. While we are forced to treat our art also like a business, too much of that can suck the life out of your creativity. It’s a tenuous balance between the joys of writing and the woes of being seen and heard.
Any of you wondering what the advice my former boss and mentor gave me? Sorry for being a tease 😉 But for those of you who don’t know me, I wanted you to know my story. It may look an awful lot like your journey. You may be reading this and taking notes on what not to do. Still, this is where I was last year. Floundering. Unfocused, though not undisciplined. I was heartbroken to see fellow authors falling away and giving up. Whatever their reasons (and they may be very good reasons), it sparked something inside me.
My mentor was the first to pick this up, in his infinite Dumbledore-esque wisdom. He told me, “Make yourself an expert in your field. Maybe you’re not meant to be the author, but rather meant to be the one who leads other authors in the right direction.”
I thought of all these relationships I had built at the beginning of my career, and the group fantasy author tour I was helping put together via Prism Book Tours. And I realized I wanted to do more. With the help of my oldest writing buddies, we created We Write Fantasy, a small group for established fantasy authors to talk craft, support each other and blog about writing. Over the past year, we have formed our own little tribe.
From my tribe, I found friends who understood the anxieties and the ups and downs of the business. I found kindred spirits and what’s more, I found a passion for blogging and reading again. I started up my book blog again and have tried my best to reach out to the authors I meet through it. I love visiting your blogs, fellow writers, and learning your stories, your journies. I very much believe in “paying it forward.”
I don’t have any grand ambitions these days.
While I’m steadily working on my craft still, on testing different marketing strategies and the never-ending quest to tell the story, I care infinitely more about you. I want to see your dream come to life. Yes, in some ways it’s harder now to break through than it was when I started. But that’s why it’s so important we stick together. I’m not an expert and I’m not prolific (yet… ;p) But I will do my very best to help you along the way. It can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to begin. But we’ve all been there and we’re all here to help each other grow. We are stronger together than we are apart.
Goals for this week
Publishing Angel Blue Episode 3!
Writing Bound Beauty 😉
Work on blogging in advance for this next week.
“I Killed a Book” – by Author K.P. Haigh
“Six Unrealistic Tropes and How to Avoid Them”– with Mythcreants
“How I Relaunched My Annika Brisby Series” – by Author Emigh Cannaday