I had kind of a rough Monday in which a lot of things that had been simmering below the surface came up all at once, which forced me to look at some things in a different way, with the result being that I actually let myself acknowledge some issues, and that may end up leading to some big changes.
So, there’s a good chance that I’m going to quit writing for publication this year. I’m essentially moving backwards, selling fewer and fewer books, making less money, being less known. When I got upset about not being invited to cons, not being considered as a special guest, not being included as a workshop speaker, I tried telling myself that it didn’t really matter, that it was just my ego being bruised. But the fact is, if you’re not known in this business, you’re not selling books. You have to have a certain amount of visibility to get fame, and you have to have a certain amount of fame to get visibility. I’ve had a few times when I seemed close to cracking into that cycle, but it never stuck, and now, after 14 years of being published in fantasy and 14 books, I’m farther away than I ever have been. I’ve done what I can to promote, and now am at the point where making it anywhere is going to take something bigger than me, beyond what I can do, something I can’t control or make happen — a movie or TV series based on one of my books, a celebrity discovering my books and talking about them, going viral in a good way.
Otherwise, maybe this isn’t where I need to be. My work may be lacking whatever “it” it takes to break out. People like it, but it doesn’t seem to generate the kind of passion that makes something take off, that makes a publisher give it a push, that creates an active fandom that gets noticed. There’s also the fact that I really hate being my own publisher. I don’t like having to deal with and negotiate with people to do editing, art, and design. I’m currently in the middle of a weeks-long panic attack about contacting an artist about cover art. I was doing this through my agent, and she handled that stuff, but she got out of that and now it’s on me, and I’m not very good at it and don’t enjoy it, but publishers haven’t been all that interested in me lately, and I don’t have the numbers to get them interested. I like writing, but publishing is getting to me. Meanwhile, I’m making less and less money with each book, and it’s no longer enough to make a living. That means I need to change careers.
I can’t quit right away, since I still have editorial revisions to come on the book for Audible, and I have some other commitments, so I can’t even start looking for a job until May. I’m going to keep working on the book I’m currently writing, and maybe it will be something publishers are interested in and that will make me change my mind. There are things that can happen between now and then that may change the way I feel — if my sales go up, if Enchanted Inc. 9 does really well and gets a lot of attention, if something happens to give me hope that things will get better. I’m just giving myself permission to quit and move on if I still feel the way I do now.
The ninth Enchanted Inc. book will still come out (if I can make myself arrange for cover art). I don’t know beyond that. I may still end up writing in my spare time because that’s what I like doing, but if I go back to a full-time job, I’m not going to force myself to spend my spare time that way, and I may not worry about dealing with publication. I’m so used to working at home that an office job will be a huge adjustment. If it takes a while to find a job, I may work on Rebels 4 in the meantime. Or something wonderful may happen that gets me going again and this will have just been a down phase in my career that makes me appreciate the good things. But at the moment, I think it’s been fun, but I’m ready to move on instead of constantly worrying and struggling and feeling bad.
I’m sorry if I’m leaving any series incomplete or disappointing readers, but I can’t afford to essentially work for below minimum wage and keep taking pay cuts, and I’m just not emotionally up to everything that comes with publishing. I need some financial security and to not have what I’m doing so tied into my self-image.