2012 Reflections and 2013 Writing Schedule

Posted: December 23, 2012 in My Journey into the Indie Publishing World

18tree-600As many of you know, “The Vampire from Hell Returns” will be released in Spring 2013. I had to push back the October release of Part 4 in the Vampire from Hell series out to January 2013.

What Happened?

What you might not know is why. Why did Part 4 get pushed back? Really? That’s a good question and I’ve been thinking about it this morning as I reflect on this past year. What happened to me? And I think I have an answer. Let me share with you some honest info.

Reflecting on 2012

Originally I had thought 2012 would be a great year for my book sales. I had thought it would be THE year I’d be able to turn writing into a full-time job, an ambitious idea considering it was my second year of writing, but a goal just the same. 2011 showed extreme promise as I launched the Vampire from Hell series with Part 1 (the free introduction, a 20 page short story). I got caught up in the comments, reviews, feedback from readers for Part 1 and 2 during 2011, enjoying the wonderful reception. My ego swelled and told me you’ll be writing full-time soon. I smiled to myself and on those days I had to seat in back to back meetings with my day job client, I dreamed of being done with my obligations of delivering online training by September.

Even though I didn’t realize it, I suppose things started to fall apart as early as the Spring of 2012. Being my second year of writing, I had decided to treat it as a job. I worked day and night at writing, marketing, and promoting my series. 2011 was writing and getting published while 2012 became promoting my series, marketing my books, and maybe finding time to write on the side while my day job sucked me back in at every turn. It was, and still has to be, my number one priority, so I can pay my bills. A sad fact I hate to admit.

I thought I could keep it all together, releasing Part 3 in July with a wonderful Release Party I still think of as my defining moment as an Indie Author. Many friends attended the Release Party and it was a great evening. I was blessed with a big turnout (some 60 people) and we had a non-stop blast of fun with laughs and prizes for 4 hours. Parts 1, 2, and 3 were wrapped up into a paperback and in July too and I realized a dream I had long wanted to achieve, writing a book. The three parts had been my first idea of writing a three-part series.

I turned to start on Part 4 in late July knowing another deadline (one I had given myself) was looming. Despite my exhaustion of waking up at 3 am every morning writing and writing in the evenings after work, I had Part 4 the first draft done around the first week of September. I didn’t really like the draft, but I pushed forward with editing. I think reality shoved its head into my fantasy world a few days before Labor Day and deflated my ego when I accidentally deleted my Part 4 folder. Images, notes, snippets, and the entire manuscript disappeared from my dropbox account and my computer. Rearranging files before a cup of coffee was my bonehead move and I was extremely upset with myself for weeks, months actually.

Additionally my sales dropped around mid-summer and with a black cloud hanging over me, I considered giving up writing all together. I was in a downward spiral. I don’t actually make a huge profit selling my books. (For example, when a writer sells a .99 cent book on Amazon it means the writer gets .35 and Amazon gets .65.) Being an Indie Author means I don’t have the same distribution opportunities authors have when they are published with one of the big 6 publishers, but I understand that they too have to sell a lot of books before they see a profit.

My series doesn’t contain enough romance to be put in the Romance genre and I’ve found that I can’t really figure out a great category for the series to call home. It shifts between fantasy and anthologies currently on Amazon. That may not be the first category you go to look for when wanting to buy an ebook. And oddly enough, Amazon for example does not have a Paranormal category in their Kindle store like Barnes & Noble and Smashwords do. I know. I was shocked too. If you think they do, go to http://amazon.com/kindlestore and find it for me please. (This actually changed in early December 2012 when Amazon finally added a Paranormal category to Fantasy.)

While I did learn a lot about writing, marketing, promoting, I also learned  in 2012 about burn-out, time management, over-committing myself with work deadlines from my day job clients, and what not to do when those inner demons show up on your shoulder to question your every move. This year was my year to fight and the one person I had to fight was actually myself. Thankfully I bounced back about mid October and started Part 4 all over again, new outline, new plot, new direction for the characters. I decided to stop second guessing myself about if this new version was better and looking back at what if’s. I also decided to stop worrying about the low sales. The pushed-out deadline would ensure I’d continue to lose money and that would have to be okay. My series sells steadily which I’m very thankful for, but rallying interest for a series over a year old is a struggle. After seeing my weekly profits cut from $50 to $20 a week, I realized 2012 would not be “the year” I’d become a full-time writer.  I also realized that it’s not about the money. It really shouldn’t be about that.

Of course, I didn’t want to admit then at the time that I had done something so stupid by deleting Part 4′s first draft, but I’m doing so now. I know now that in some weird cosmic way, it was meant to be in a way. I had to experience this past year of “failure” and move on. And I certainly needed to learn that the honeymoon of being published is over, so I can just sink my teeth into (sorry for the pun) writing and producing books. Marketing and promoting will have to be more word of mouth than my spending a large amount of my time doing it on my own.  The main point I guess I’m trying to make is I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to keep writing, whether I sell many copies of my books or not.

Maybe you guys saw it before I did. I know I didn’t release as much as I wanted to this past year and while I should beat myself up about that. I’m not going to. I know many readers are probably frustrated with having to wait on my books. I get that. But I received many wonderful comments from friends and readers who encouraged me to keep going. Many of whom probably did not realize I was having issues. They only saw the last book I released was July 2012 and reached out to me. Several of my writing friends knew I was going down in flames and rallied around me. But there was little they could do as I struggled. And while I tried to figure out what was wrong with me, I helped them with their promotions, events, covers, and so on. I’m thankful for their success if not my own.

But I think 2012 has been successful to some degree. Maybe not in the amount of books, but in the other ways I’ve discussed here.

Two Halloween cards I got from two friends of mine, who read my books, finally reminded me of something I shouldn’t take for granted. It’s the main reason I started writing in the first place. Despite everything, I do have people out there who look forward to reading what I write and they want to hear more about Rayea. These two friends sent me a card because they were just thinking about me and knowing I love Halloween (being a fan of the fang) wanted to say, “Hello.”

So that’s it. That brought me back to ground zero. Ultimately that’s why I’m doing this. I’m not going to be a big-time author like my ego would like to tell me. I’ll write as a hobby. I’ll write books because I like to, because I want to make time to do so, and because I have found some people in this big wide world who want to read my stories. I may make a little money that I put back into the effort by sending books to friends and readers and that’s good enough for me. I’m not going to be rich at this and I’m fine with that. Those things aren’t important to me. They shouldn’t be. I think it’s more important if someone wants to start reading ebooks because they downloaded my Free Part 1 or someone falls in love with the idea of Rayea being a very different vampire than they have read before., or the simple fact that when I released 20 pages of a short story in January 2011, many people said they wanted more. For me as the first installment is downloaded thousands of times monthly without my getting one cent for it because it remains a free download, I know I’ve already won at this writing journey. I did what I set out to do. I started a series about a vampire like no other. That was my goal and I’m happy to say I’m okay with that.

So yes, there it is. My small confession for 2012.

With that being said, I’ve been looking at my upcoming writing projects and I believe I have a list started. I’m washing my hands of 2012 and moving on. I’m not looking back. Maybe odd years are more my scene than even.  I like to think of it that way.

Join me if you’d like to learn more about my upcoming book projects. Go to Coming Soon.

 

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Comments
  1. Ally, I actually think releasing two books, even one book your second year of writing is a huge success, and you should congratulate yourself. I’d think twice about the “writing as a hobby” angle, because, just like life in general, there are ebbs and flows to our work. We all have books we love that don’t do as well as others, and then those that just take off, hit what the public wants. Balancing that with your talents and allotted time is the trick to becomming an unstoppable, successful writer. I know many who started out making $20-$50 per week and then bloomed into great successes.

    That said, I think helping to promote other authors brings you into the mix and gives you opportunities you wouldn’t ordinarily have. None of us does this alone. We all need each other. As I think Mark Twain said it: difference between a published writer and a non-publishes writer is a published (and he would now include in that Indie, IMHO) writer writes until he gets published.

    In short, never giving up. In spite of everything else going on, we have to continue to write. Every day. Even an hour a day. Every day. That’s where all the juices come from. Getting caught up in promotion can make one stumble, but remember your main focus: to write stories for readers to love.

    Just my .02.

    • ally thomas says:

      Thank you so much Sharon for posting on this article. I really appreciate it. You bring up several key points that remind me maybe I am doing a good job despite my concerns. And you are right, we must not give up. A wonderful sentiment I’ll keep in mind! Happy Holidays!

  2. Sherly says:

    Hello Ally,

    I had just started to read your books a few hours ago, and immediately love it. I understand that writing doesn’t always pay off financially. Please do continue writing though. I would like to read more about Rayea’s journey. I also wouldn’t mind paying more for the e-books if you decided to increase the selling price. Thank you for writing and sharing Rayea’s story with us. Hopefully you will keep on writing. Looking forward for the 4, 5, and 6 releases.

    • ally thomas says:

      Thanks Sherly! I appreciate your reading Parts 1-3. I hope you enjoyed them. If you read Part 4 (Due out this Spring) you’ll see me mention a ‘dark phase’ I went through while writing Part 4. This article documents it somewhat. Since the winter, I have decided to write in the romance genre and I’m working on a few side projects under pseudonyms, but Rayea’s story is my baby, being my first and I won’t be leaving it. I’ll continue to write. Thank you for your suggestions and post :D

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