This book business isn’t easy. I know logistically it *is* pretty easy, because everyone is doing it nowadays. But staying in it for the long haul? Not an easy thing, and shit will get to you. Take it from me, over time, it will absolutely get to you.
I’ve had multiple talented friends walk away–either purposefully or just by silently not writing anymore. I’ve threatened to quit publishing myself because sometimes the joy is very hard to find amidst all the stress and drama and other demands.
I’ll fess up to my story from this year and tell you how I’ve come out of it multiple times… because I’ve been through this multiple times. We all have different things that get us down or stress us out. Different triggers that make us want to walk away.
My trigger? People close to me not reading the things I write.
After Love Will released, I went into a tailspin. I wrote what I feel is the best book I’ve ever produced. I got to be so creative and so in touch with feelings with this one that it took me places I’d never been as a writer. It was such a rewarding experience for me. I had never been more proud of a book. I was so excited to release the book that I did just that–I released it. No ARCs, no tour, no nothing. I was naïve in thinking my inner circle, my close friends, my street team would stop what they were doing to read it. Some did. I was so excited to see their responses and get their feedback. A few devoured it like I hoped they would. For others, it took more time. Love Will is a long book, so I kept telling myself that it would naturally take longer. But then I noticed many of my ‘loyal readers’ hadn’t even started. Or if they had, they weren’t talking about it. I wasn’t sure which was worse. I still don’t know (and I don’t want to know).
I obsessed about this, not just for days, but for weeks. I thought I would be able to relax on vacation shortly after Love Will‘s release, but no. I kept checking Goodreads and Facebook looking for signs of life for my book. And they weren’t coming. A release-week-cycle later, and it starts looking pretty dismal for a book.
I couldn’t snap out of it, either. I kept asking the people who had read it if they thought something was wrong with it. I could postulate all I wanted to, but I wasn’t getting any real feedback. No one was talking.
I kept telling myself that not everyone was going to like every book I write, but damn it! I didn’t want to learn that lesson with this book! And not with my inner circle of readers! I just couldn’t stand to think that. And so I kept obsessing. It was eating me up inside.
I had plans to write an extra that accompanied Love Will right after releasing the book, but I lost all desire to do that. I also had a novella to write that would explain some news that was dropped in the final chapter of the book. I couldn’t write to save my life. I could check stats. I could check Goodreads. I could check Facebook. I could not write.
And then one day, another author (we’ll call her Ashley P.) asked if I wanted to write a short story for a project she was working on. It had a quick turn-around and it needed to be fun and summery. Because I like Ashley and I had started a fun, summery story years ago that I never finished, I told her I would do it. Since it had a fast-approaching deadline, I got to work that day.
I wrote. And you know what? I’ve been writing ever since. I’ve been writing in that short story. I’ve been writing in the Love Will extra, in the novella, and (mainly) in Trey’s novel.
I have not been obsessing about who’s read my book and who hasn’t. In the weeks since Ashley approached me, I’ve blocked my stats page and Goodreads on my phone so I can’t check anything, and I turned my mindset around to focus on the loyal readers (and new readers) who have read Love Will. Sure, there aren’t many people, but the ones who’ve read it seem to like it a lot and appreciate it for what it is. It can still be my favorite, regardless.
But I can’t let the opinions of a few readers or their inability or unwillingness to read a book control my happiness. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to me.
But this is what makes me question the publishing aspect of what I do. I get so much pleasure out of writing. But sometimes there is so much misery (that might all be in my head) and stress put upon myself after publishing that I question if it was ever worth it.
But in the end, I keep doing it for the handful of readers that did love Love Will or that did love Love Like We Do or the Choisie series or the Emi Lost and Found series. I’ll keep doing it for the ones that may love Trey’s book or Max and Zaina’s novella. There’s something for everyone–but no one thing will ever be for everyone.
It’s a hard lesson to learn.