This year has been… a year. Life is endless flux, and it doesn’t always balance itself out within a year. I won’t label this year good or bad, but it has been an experience. I want to reflect on it now and share it with you as a thank-you, and because maybe it’ll spread some good vibes around. So often we feel alone, but we’re not. Not really.
Let’s go back a little farther to start. 2018 was the year I thought, “Hey! It’s truly possible to do this author thing for a living. This is amazing. Things are only going to get bigger and better from here.” It was a good year, all possible because of you, all of my readers.
2019 was not bigger and better. In fact, the 2018 boost started fizzling out by the end of 2018.
As I’m sure you know, The Lost Princess of Howling Sky is my most popular series. Taken by Werewolves was received excellently and that meant I caught the eye of an agent and an audiobook publisher. The deal went through, and that’s why this series has audiobooks today, which will never not be cool.
I had Saving the Werewolves up for preorder, because I wanted to get this series out ASAP. It turned out to be quite an undertaking. I had to write this 90,000 word book in just under three months, and it was hard. I value quality more than anything, so feeling like I might have to potentially compromise it gives me so much anxiety. You deserve the best product I am capable of creating.
I succeeded in hitting my deadline for Saving the Werewolves and am very relieved to say I am proud of the story and feel I did the best I could at the time. (I’m always growing, so hopefully my newer books are even better! That’s always the goal.)
Momentum for the series slowed drastically after Saving the Werewolves was released. I knew, logically, that most books don’t maintain the level of sales Taken by Werewolves got during its first couple months after publication. I’ve beat myself up instead, telling myself that I didn’t hit the points readers wanted for that story, but I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore.
I think I must have had some vocal readers telling others about Taken by Werewolves in the beginning, maybe Amazon itself. We as humans have a limit on our influential groups. We are only ONE person after all. And Amazon loses interest in advertising if it sees a decline in interest. The slope is normal. But I couldn’t see it at the time. (By the way, a HUGE thank-you to all of you who made that series amazing and continue to do that today.)
I didn’t do another preorder. I couldn’t bring myself to write Queen of Werewolves because I read reviews for Saving the Werewolves that pushed my already compromised feelings farther underwater. So, I wrote something new, hoping to catch that big spark of interest again while also trying to figure out why I write in the first place. I write for readers, but I have values I refuse to compromise.
That’s an odd thing to say, isn’t it? Maybe. The only time I’ve found financial success since I began publishing is when I’ve written in niches with clear audiences and demands. It would be dishonest to say I’ve found a genre that I “LOVE EVERY ASPECT OF.” Because that just isn’t true. But I’ve found genres that I like enough that I tried my hand at them, and I mostly stuck to the “rules,” in the beginning.
I jumped ship with The Lost Princess of Howling Sky to write Halloween Werewolf because I was tired of rules. I wrote it to make myself happy, but I still had “audience expectations” in the back of my mind. “If you don’t make this steamy, no one will want to read it.” True or not true? I don’t know. Either way, The Holiday Shifter Mates didn’t end up doing well. It could be because Halloween Werewolf is an MM romance and Christmas Polar Bear is an MF romance and Valentine’s Day Tigers is about an ace brother and an aro brother and a non-binary love interest.
Not every reader is like me. Not every reader wants to read all kinds of romances. So often I see LGBTQ characters, all minorities, created as stereotypes while the spotlight is given to characters I’ve seen reused so many times because they appeal to the “majority.” There are other people in the world, and they deserve to have the spotlight, and they deserve to be developed and real.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I enjoy many kinds of stories, and I like writing a more typical main character plenty, but I don’t like doing it all the time. The wold is bigger than that. That was when I realized I can’t be like these other authors who write a specific genre and land the “rules” of that genre every single time, giving their readers exactly what they want. I also realized that means making this a full-time job is going to be difficult, and maybe even impossible, because I don’t have a single audience in mind.
I’ve always considered myself a quiet person who keeps to themself. I loathe conflict, but writing exposes your soul. All of the arts are like that, I think. If I’m not honest in my writing, I won’t be able to live with myself. I’ve hidden my whole life. I still hide because it’s easier not to be seen. I never thought writing, spending time in another world and in another person’s head, would force me to come out.
I don’t want to give up on this being my full-time job. I’m going to keep fighting for it, delivering the best stories I can without compromising who I am.
Despite not hitting all expectations, The Lost Princess of Howling Sky continues to be my best-selling series. I finished Queen of Werewolves this year, and I’m glad I did. This series means a hell of a lot to me, and I’m very proud of it. Though my income wasn’t great this year, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to build it up again next year and continue my full-time authoring. If not, I’ll deal with that when it comes. I realize my “values” and “money goal” are rather contradictory, but I’m not willing to give up either one, so I just have to deal with it and remember this:
Life isn’t a race, and the same is true for publishing.
Let’s move on to my plans for 2020. The fun stuff!
I’m just about finished with Nightshade Academy Episode 5. That means the series is almost complete. Episode 5 will be published in March. Nightshade Academy is told from one character’s perspective, Nova. She’s asexual and has a bisexual love interest. The romance is MF. This story is much less focused on romance and more on the paranormal/fantasy aspect, though. It isn’t explicit. If nothing else, you have to read this series for my slothful demon, Ginzo. He’s maybe my favorite character ever.
Witch Trial is my next project. It’s the third book in These Immortal Vows. This is my longest series to date, and one of my worst sellers. It’s a story near and dear to my heart, so I’m finishing this book at least. If Nightshade Academy does well (thank you to everyone who has bought it so far), hopefully sales will pick up for this series so I can finish it someday. The two are set in the same world, and characters cross over! It’s good fun. These Immortal Vows is told from three character perspectives: Tasia, a human girl with the ability to see ghosts; Arsen, a notorious demon being hunted by angels; Rynne, Tasia’s guardian angel and love interest, at least in the first book. Did I mention this story is complicated? Because it is. If you want a twisty paranormal/fantasy, it might be up your alley. It might also be my greatest romance to date. It’s very slow-burn, so be prepared.
After Witch Trial, I will write a personal book I’ve been working on for years. It’s time for it to see the light of day. I won’t say much other than it is a YA LGBTQ contemporary fantasy, and that my goal is to get it traditionally published.
Next comes my sexy dark fantasy vampire MF romance. I do mean dark, friend. This story is set in the same world as The Lost Princess of Howling Sky. It’s told from the perspective of a vampire, and it takes place before The Lost Princess of Howling Sky begins. Are you curious about how male vampires are treated? You’ll find out here. And it isn’t pretty. This story will be tough, but it’s ultimately a tale of compassion, friendship, and love. All the pain will be worth it, because the characters will overcome. And it’s really steamy. This is probably the last series you’ll see published in 2020, but I have many more planned, so stay tuned.
Thank you for reading this long-ass newsletter. I hope it was a little bit interesting for you, and I hope you’re excited for all the books to come. As always, thank you for your support. I literally couldn’t do this without you.
What are your goals for the new year?