I worked in publishing for a long time. Over ten years as an acquisitions editor. That was one of the reasons I was skeptical about trying to write “professionally”–in other words, trying to earn my living with my writing. I know how ridiculously hard it is, I know how few people manage to do so. But hey, I decided to try anyway, and even decided to make it formal, create a publishing company, etc. I decided to treat the job professionally, practically.
Yesterday, with my publisher hat on, I tried to talk myself out of writing A Precarious Balance. Not just now, but ever.
If I was a good publisher, I’d look at the numbers–29 copies of A Lonely Magic sold in the month of August, worse than any of the Tassamara books have ever done, including when I had no audience at all–and I’d make the kind of phone call that makes my stomach twist with anxiety for hours ahead of time.
“So sorry,” I’d tell the author. “We loved the book, really we did. But the numbers just aren’t there. We’ll keep trying. We’ll push it, see if we can squeeze it into a promotion or two, but we need to put #2 on hold. Indefinitely.” I’d mourn with the author, especially for a book I loved so much, and I’d feel guilty and torn by indecision–where had I made the wrong choices, how had I screwed up, why hadn’t my passion gotten through to the sales reps? But I’d bite the bullet and do it anyway, because publishing is a business and investing in books that don’t make money is a fast way to layoffs & cost-cutting & midnight stress.
I suspect that this is why at some point in my publishing journey, I’m going to wind up working at McDonald’s. Not because the book isn’t selling. That’s sad, but all I have to do is think about how much fun it was to write and I can shrug my shoulders and let go of that. But because I’m not capable of choosing my writing projects based on whether or not they’re good business decisions. When the practical publisher and the impractical author collide, the impractical author is winning every time. My anxious side really hates that, but my author side goes on strike every time I try to do it differently.
Today, the impractical author side is going to take a weekend day, and say good-bye to summer by hanging out with my niece, with swimming and maybe grilling and probably a lot of Doctor Who. And on Monday–or maybe Tuesday–the publisher side can start worrying again.
I know nothing about publishing what-so-ever. But I do get the idea that promotion is good. However, from what I can tell, you gave quite a lot of copies away for free, probably to a lot of people who would have happily paid the download price to read this book! Maybe be more circumspect in your generosity!
Well, the hope with that was that it would get reviews — at least 30 on Amazon, so I could promote it with paid advertising during the “new release window.” But it still hasn’t reached that number, so yeah, I won’t be doing that again. 🙂
Do you know how many publishers passed on Harry Potter? When writing becomes a job, I think the author and the readers suffer. It’s not wise to be your own publisher. It’s similar to a chef being his own critic. I love the Tassamara series. Every character and every book drew me in. A lonely Magic didn’t do that for me until page 170-something. I really had to force myself to stay with the book until then. The writing didn’t feel like “you” until it got about there in the story, in my opinion. Now I’m excited to read the second book! Keep writing what brings you joy and don’t bring your publisher with you during that process. You’re extremely talented and if you just let that flow your books will be successful.
Well, I suspect I’ll have to figure out how not to be boring for 170 pages if I actually want to succeed! Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. But thanks for the encouragement!!
Not boring. Just seemed like even you were unsure where it was going. Business get in the way? Could have been just me though.
No, I always knew where I was going. Fen didn’t, though. I wanted that period on the island to feel like when Beauty arrives at the castle of the Beast and she knows something’s wrong but she’s waiting to find out what it is–sort of slow but tense–but it obviously didn’t work for everyone. So it goes. Maybe next time I’ll get it better. 🙂
I just finished A Lonely Magic and came to your blog to see if, just maybe, the next book was already available. Now I see this post. God, I hope you decide to continue this series!
Just to explain how much I loved A Lonely Magic: I started the book a few hours ago and could not put it down, even though I’m supposed to be on the way back to my own apartment (I’ve been staying with my parents), which is a two hour train ride away. I completely forgot about that. I didn’t want to leave this wonderful world you’ve created. I still don’t want to leave it. I absolutely love this story and the characters in it.
So, while I understand that you have to think about the business side of this and I will understand if you decide to focus on something else, I really hope this series takes off. I adore it.
Will a review on amazon.de help? Since I’m from Germany I don’t think I can write one on amazon.com (can I?) but I will do so on amazon.de, even though I have never reviewed something in my life.
I wish you all the best! I love your stories!
Thank you so much! Don’t worry, I’m definitely writing A Precarious Balance. I actually came up with a fun twist this weekend that I can’t wait to write, and Fen and Luke were bickering in my head as I walked the dogs, so… yeah. Don’t worry, it’s going to happen. 🙂
Best. News. Ever!!!
Judy, Judy, Judy said:
Sounds like there is a precarious balance between publisher and author, too.
Personnally, I think you should consider having a professional graphic designer to make your cover. It’s one of the main things for making it as a self-published author, from what I’ve understood. I’ve loved Tassamara – and the covers for that were fine – but frankly, I would never have picked up A Lonely Magic without your name on it. I know it’s more spending and that’s probably hard to swallow, though!
I’m going to! I didn’t love the experience I had with the cover designer of the Tassamara series, so back in April, I started researching cover designers. I spent hours and hours looking at covers, trying to find someone whose work really stood out to me, as both interesting art and good cover design. I finally found http://artbykarri.com/cover-art/e-book-print-cover-art-design/ and said, yes, this is it. But she was fully booked until end of October! I had to decide whether to keep looking, hold the publication date of ALM until November, or publish with the fictionpress cover and then re-publish when I get the new cover, and I decided to do the last. So sometime in November, it’ll get a new cover and APB will have a cover to match it. I hope it’ll be beautiful!
Please do book 2. I am reading lonely magic again. I recd the free version and even bought it on amazon so I could leave a review. Sorry it didn’t sell as many as u wanted. I still want to read about Malik too. Sorry but I like kaio more than Luke!
Thank you so much for buying it and reviewing it! I really appreciate it. And don’t worry, I started working on it this week. As for Kaio and Luke–I like them both!