In late 2016, I made an extraordinary decision: I would hit the writing pause button. Obviously, this was not an easy decision to reach. I made it for a number of reasons:
- By working simultaneously on both writing and marketing, I felt I wasn’t doing justice to either. My sales were stagnating at a time when I needed them to take off.
- I wanted to spend more time with the wee one and enjoy her nutty antics before I missed out on all her toddler silliness.
- And after 4 consecutive years of non-stop writing, during which I published 16 titles, I was feeling burnt out. Even turning my ideas for short stories into fully fleshed-out stories felt like a chore. This was a new feeling–I had turned to writing as an escape from my day job–and one that scared me. A lot.
So, I decided to spend a whole year focusing on book marketing and reevaluate the situation at the end of 2017.
Which means, it’s time for a reckoning: how has this year shaped up?
Well, a year with almost no writing feels by definition like a failure to a writer.
But there’s more. Like many of us, I grew up watching my parents build a life through sheer determination, hard work, and personal sacrifice. They brought me up with the belief that, standing on the shoulders of these small giants, I could do anything I wanted. They started with nothing and built up so much. How much more could I do, given all the help I had?
Which is why it pains me to admit to an occasional feeling of failure, as I’m still unable to make a living solely from writing. It’s a nice side-earner, amounting to roughly one-third of my income nowadays, but, throughout 2017, my day job(s) remained my main source of income. And it’s definitely unimpressive for the amount of work I’ve put into my writing and promoting. It was always unrealistic to expect that I would go from minnow to whale in 12 short months (unless you’re talking about my waistline), but… you know, hard work, sheer determination, and personal sacrifice. What if I had to work not one but two jobs (three after June)? Surely I could do it, right?
And it’s good to acknowledge that, as it keeps me grounded, preventing my small wins from inflating my ego to the point of my head taking off like a balloon.
For yes, through a lot of hard work and even harder praying, there have been successes as well:
- You may remember how Azure Fire Publishing has both hired me to be their Editor-in-chief and asked me to publish my fantasy/sci-fi books with them. Although things are moving at a relatively slow speed, we are already preparing our first Junior writing challenge. We have met some amazing writers, some as young as 12. And we’ve successfully run one writing challenge (and are in the middle of the second one). Watch this space for more!
- Following the success of Runaway Smile and Musiville worldwide, Patakis, the largest Greek publishing house, has bought in advance my next 3 children’s books and will publish them next year in Greece. Which means I am officially a hybrid author, as they also offered me a cash advance (a small one, but it’s the principle, right?)
- After 4 years of daily slog and countless trials-and-errors, my book sales have increased dramatically this year (see graph above). Starting from an average monthly income of under $100 in 2016, I expect to make ten times as much this December, with expected sales of over 500 books and 20,000 KENP reads.
- I have met some amazing fellow authors, both in Greece (hi Marina, Kosta) and abroad. Several have hired me to help out with their projects and book promotions. One even asked me to ghost-write a book for them (I’m currently waiting for their detailed feedback on the first draft).
- Istomedia has published a medical book on HPV, meaning it’s officially taken its first step into the world of publishing.
- And I’ve been growing my social media presence. For the first time, my blog visits exceeded 100,000 (yes, that’s thanks to you wonderful people who tune in every other day to read my posts). My overall followers are over 20,000. I love and cherish each and every one of you (OK, some even more. You know who you are!)
As an Indie author, I find myself in a weird place. All of my previous work has been (or is in the process of being) bought off by various publishers. Azure Fire Publishers already has asked to publish any future fantasy/SF works of mine; Patakis has dibs on my children’s books. For an Indie author, that’s remarkably few Indie books.
I did all this so I could get back some of my writing mojo. Ironically enough, after a year not writing, I’m even more exhausted than before (did I mention my day jobs?). I have several ideas for future projects but always seem to lack the time to work on them.
What, then, should I focus on in 2018? Part of me says, “you’ve done so much while only working part-time on your writing career. Imagine how much more you can achieve if you do it full-time. Just take the plunge. Focus on your writing this year, and all will be well.”
And another, more realistic, part scoffs. “What a splendid idea. So, what’s for supper? I hear great things about mashed pine cones and stewed dirt” (yes, the more realistic part of me is a bit of a jerk).
One idea I’ve had that may be of interest to you is to write down everything I’ve found out about book marketing in a new book. But there are so many of them around nowadays, I wonder if it’s worth it. Another idea is offering an online course on the subject. And a third one is taking on authors as clients. Starting at something like $30 per book per month, I could handle their Amazon ads, as I believe I can now replicate my own success with other people’s books.