Warning: this is a long post. Abandon all hope, ye who continue reading, lol!
I want to ruminate on my first six months as an author. I published Heller at Smashwords on 29 May 2011 (according to them - according to me it was 30 May 2011). Since then, I’ve published four full-length books, which is quite an achievement for anybody in six months.
Well done, JD. Why, thank you, JD! How nice of you to say! Congratulatory pats on the back all around (currently twisting myself into a pretzel trying to do so).
I started writing because I was forced to do a survey at work about my leadership style. It revealed that I needed to be more ‘self-actualised’. Once I looked that up in the jargonary (new reference book for jargon-spewing consultants), I realised unfortunately that judgement wasn’t very far off the mark. I did need to let my creative side free. So I enrolled in a very interesting course, completely unrelated to my job, at a university. I loved it and I did very well in my first subject, but at the same time I started writing a little book about a security business run by a secretive, cold-blooded, intense and stunningly beautiful man who hires a warm and loving trouble-magnet, turning his life upside down.
And I was hooked. When my very tolerant family thought I was diligently writing assignments, I was actually writing about Tilly and Heller. I eventually abandoned my course and kept writing. And writing. And writing.
My family became less tolerant.
After about five Heller books, I decided I wanted to write something more serious, with an even tougher heroine (have I said I love Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2???). And I wanted my character to be a cop, someone with authority and skills, someone quite different to Tilly. So I invented Tessie and started the Little Town series. It was meant to be serious. Seriously! But I don’t think I’m cut out to write a serious book. Unfortunately, my smart-arsery gets in the way every time. Not to mention my liking for unusual supporting characters.
I probably would have kept my writing to myself forever, not believing that it had any appeal to anyone else, except a few terribly negative things happened in my work life and my personal life. Fed up with everything, once I discovered Smashwords, I decided to publish and not die wondering. But wow! I can’t believe how ignorant I was. In true fashion, I didn’t bother doing much research before I launched my writing career (just as I never read instructions before using something!). But when I did start reading what other much more experienced people than me had to say about e-pubbing, I learned a lot. It only reminded me that there are always wiser heads out there, no matter how much I HATE being told what to do or how to do it (a huge character flaw as my hubby would readily tell you, I’m sure!). And yeah, it makes life a little difficult at work sometimes, lol!
I’m so glad I did publish in the end, even though it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride and I’ve had to learn to grow a thick skin (not something that comes naturally to me). When you put your books out to the world for free, all sorts of people will read them - some who would never, ever, normally read your kind of writing. And unsurprisingly, when they do, they don’t like it. Fair enough. They leave a bad review. Shrug - it’s a free world - express yourself. They write that your book is ridiculous and the worst book ever written and were happy to delete it forever on their e-reader. Hey, settle down and be civilised, please!
Don’t like my books? Then why the hell are you reading my blog, lol? Move on and find another author! There are a million of them out there. But make sure if you do find an author that you like, drop them a line and let them know. Especially if they’re doing it for themselves. It could make the world of difference to their future writing careers. Believe me.
One of the most interesting aspects of offering free books is that that you lose control over them. They proliferate the internet. My two free ebooks, Heller and Blood Ties, turn up in all sorts of weird places!
I am very lucky to be able to continue working part-time until the end of 2012. After that though, I have to go back to my ‘real job’ full-time and I’ll be facing a huge crossroads at that point. I simply can’t continue to pump out books if I’m working full-time. It’s so detrimental to my health that I would be a fool to even attempt it. And at this point, I can’t imagine earning enough from writing to be able to stop working then.
But for now, I will keep writing through 2012 and just see what happens. Life is one big adventure, after all :-)
Heller series: will have Heller’s Girlfriend out in January 2012. The fourth book out in about July 2012 (tentative). Short story compilation (one Halloween story, one Christmas story) out in October 2012?
Little Town series: third book (no title yet) out in about April 2012? Then fourth book in about November 2012?
Don’t want to promise anything though. Writing for me is so volatile. If I don’t feel like writing, I can’t write. I shouldn’t write. It will be horrible and I’ll only end up deleting pages of abominable text, wasting hours of my life in the process. And sometimes, even for a demented author as myself, I have to stop and allow me to be myself. My real self. Me. The one with a real family and a real home and real friends and a real career and real sadness and real happiness. Even if it’s just for a few moments, because I’m not just a writer - I’m a mother, a wife, a woman, a friend, a sister, an aunt, a sister- and daughter-in-law, an employee, a colleague, an email buddy, an author, a success, a failure.
Writing is my monster. It consumes me. My characters are constantly in my head, demanding that I tell their stories. Some days I feel as though I’m nothing but a medium for THEM! Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. But mostly I love it :-)
I decided that when I finished Blood Sport and published it, I would take a break for a long time. But about an hour after publishing, I found myself opening up Heller’s Girlfriend and starting to edit what is a very rough draft.
What can anyone do about someone like me? (No, seriously, my hubby would like some suggestions, lol!)
The best thing about being an author?
Does anyone need to ask??? It’s the readers, of course! There’s nothing I treasure more than receiving an email from someone telling me that they loved my book (whichever one, I don’t care!) and that it meant something to them because . . . and there are so many wonderful and personal reasons they give. I’m so touched that people find a little escapism from the drains and demands of real life in my books. And isn’t that what reading is all about in the end?