Saturday, 26 December 2015

#WIPMarathon December Update

It's time for our last #WIPMarathon check-in of the year... seriously, where has 2015 gone?!?!

Things I'm glad I did in 2015:
  • Self-published. I don't think I could have emotionally handled another year of rejections, especially considering all the other things that went wrong...
  • Had a backup plan. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson about not getting too emotionally attached to one story, but it took me over a month to be able to write anything new after finishing the Alliance series. >_< Eventually, I ended up project-hopping no fewer than five times, but it's probably for the best that I didn't get too attached to any of the shelved manuscripts...
  • Concentrated on building my freelance editing business, aka the sane, comparatively stable job I can actually control. :P This is the first year I haven't worked for any publishers, so all my clients are independent, but I doubled my workload this year. I also helped judge the Pitch to Publication contest.
  • Kept writing. With five books out in a year, I underestimated how exhausting the constant marketing and promotion and shouting into the void would be. I went through more than one phase when I questioned my future in publishing, especially when it became clear that I had to choose between making the sensible business decision and publishing the story I love. Realistically, this is the last year I can get away with making the choice I did, which means I have to make some sacrifices next year.
  • Didn't quit publishing and move to a shed in the Arctic Circle. Ha. Ha. Ha.
In 2016, I'd love to:
  • Live. Seriously. This year's been productive, but at no small cost in my non-writing life. I've been running on panic mode all year and I'm trying to slow down on the insanity and actually enjoy it. Easier said than done...
  • Do exciting things. I have a trip to New Zealand planned in February, I'm doing my first book signing in Manchester in August, and I have tickets to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in October with some of my friends from university. 
  • Publish... a few books. :P Two are Darkworld 4 and 5, which have been under contract since June 2014. o.O (Oh, publishing...) Then the Indestructible trilogy will be out in January, April and June, with the fourth Alliance book somewhere in between.
  • Figure out which series to write next. Right now, it's looking like it'll be my urban fantasy trilogy. I've created a world for the story where I have a bunch of different characters and scenarios to explore, so I can write multiple series set in the same world. (I really ought to have done this before!) 
  • Related: rather than jumping between six different series in a year, I'm focusing on writing one or two and giving them 100% attention. That does mean temporarily shelving my YA SF, my epic fantasy and some of the other series I plotted last year, but I can always go back to them later. 2016 will be urban fantasy year. :)
  • Write a book a lot of people want to read. That's all I ask, and all I can hope for.
Last report wordcount: Last month, I was working on a couple of side-projects and I'd finished drafting the first in my urban fantasy series.

Current report wordcount:

This month, I worked on *mutters something about secret projects* I finished a manuscript, and I also wrote part of a short story prequel to my newest urban fantasy series and plotted some other potential spinoffs.

WIP issues this month: More juggling and distractions.

Four things I learned this month in writing:

  • Freedom is awesome, and I need to remember I have it. I don't have to stick with a draft that isn't working or that I'm not enjoying. I'm indie, so I can mess around with my schedule, even rebrand (that may be a hint!) or leap into a new genre. I keep forgetting I've only been self-publishing for less than a year. I'm just getting started. Rather than being tied to the schedule I originally set out, I can change things. (On the other hand, this means keeping quiet about my works-in-progress!)
  • I'm a hundred times more inspired when I can imagine the story I'm writing as a finished, published book. I noticed my productivity shot up after I decided I wanted to indie publish, and it's been pretty consistent all year, even through all the disasters in my non-writing life.
  • Having said that, I don't have to publish everything I write. I've been struggling for the last few months because I genre-hopped four times and ended up temporarily shelving two projects, to add to the two manuscripts I shelved last year. I was beating myself up and comparing myself to the people who publish a book every couple of months, because, well, I can write a book every couple of months. But that doesn't mean I need to publish all of them (and not just because my first drafts are often disastrous). I can write a draft fairly fast, but if a project's on my schedule, I'm making a commitment to invest at least six months in redrafting, editing, beta editing, proofreading, finding cover art, marketing plans, promotion... and repeating all those steps for other books in the series. That's a LOT of hours, without even getting into the financial implications. o.O I have to really be sure I want to put that much time into a project before I start -- and that's one of the things I'll be working on next year.
  • I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Trust me, it's an absolute must-read for any writer!
What distracted me this month when writing:  Plot bunnies. In fairness, these were related to spinoffs for my urban fantasy series, so at least they're relevant!

Also, brain fog. Stupid SAD and winter, aggravated by the terrible weather. My motivation went walkabout at the beginning of November and I'm still waiting for it to come back...

Goal for next month: Edit Alliance Book 4 and Beneath the Waves (My 2013 WIPMarathon manuscript! No idea when I'm going to fit that one into the schedule, though.)

Indestructible comes out on the 12th January, too, so I'll be spending a lot of time on promotion... again...

Last 200 words: I've got superstitious about sharing my works-in-progress after shelving so many books this year. :(

Friday, 18 December 2015

Emma's Top 2015 Reads: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal

Rivers of London (Peter Grant, #1)

Rivers of London is a really enjoyable urban fantasy/mystery set in London. I loved the British feel of it (I love UK-set urban fantasy in general!) and the narrative voice was witty and fun.
Amazon UK

Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers, #1)

I picked up this book on the title alone - anything with dragons automatically grabs my attention! This is an urban fantasy set in an alternative modern-day world with magic and supernatural creatures, and follows a dragon banished to the human world by his ruthless clan. An engaging story with great characters!
Amazon UK

The Stars Never Rise (Untitled Series, #1)

Wow, this was different! Finally, a YA paranormal that lives up to its awesome premise. The Stars Never Rise is set in an alternative world where soul-eating demons have reduced humanity to hiding in walled towns, obeying the commands of the Church, whose exorcists won the war against the demons. Nina finds herself in a predicament when her sister reveals a shocking secret, and ends up on the run from both the Church and the zombie-like demons, joining up with a group of rogue exorcists to save her sister. 

The worldbuilding is clever and chilling, and the plot is action-packed. I was riveted from the first page to the last and there was a refreshing lack of cliches in the setting, plot, and demon mythology. The characters are three-dimensional and there are some fantastic twists I admit I didn't see coming. This is an absolute must-read for anyone looking for a YA paranormal or dystopia that stands out from the crowd!
Amazon UK

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2)

As I'd already read (and loved) The Darkest Minds, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequels. Heartbreaking and gripping, they held me captivated from beginning to end and left me with a hell of a book hangover. I can't even write a coherent review, but this has to be one of the best YA dystopian/paranormal series I've read.
Amazon UK

Frail Human Heart (The Name of the Blade, #3)

I've loved this series since the first book, so I just had to find out how it ended! Frail Human Heart is the riveting conclusion to the Japanese mythology-inspired YA urban fantasy Name of the Blade trilogy. The third book was the best of all three, and one of the best modern YA fantasy series I've read!
Amazon UK

Demon Road by Derek Landy

I'm a huge fan of Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant series, so I knew I'd love Demon Road. Amber thinks she's an ordinary teen, until she turns into a demon. This could have been cliche and predictable, but as it's Derek Landy, the story is anything but. This is a fast-paced page-turner with snappy dialogue, dark humour and creepy monsters. I'd thoroughly recommend this fun, dark paranormal adventure.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Cover reveal - Indestructible by Emma L. Adams

It's time to reveal the cover for Indestructible, the first in my next series!

Two years ago, the fiends invaded, with a devastating explosion that split the world in two. Even now, energy blasts strike without warning, destroying everything in their paths. The fiends hunt anyone unlucky enough to escape.

My name is Leah. An energy blast killed my group. It should have killed me, too. Instead, I woke up alone in the wilderness, stalked by the fiends.

My only hope is the red-cloaked strangers who call themselves the Pyros. They can do the impossible and make flames shoot from their hands. Right now, my one chance for safety -- and revenge -- is with them.

But they’re keeping secrets from me. Like those skeletons hidden under their base. And the reasons I developed a psychic link with someone who can’t stand the sight of me -- after he saved my life. 

If I don’t uncover the truth about why the world ended the first time, my new safe haven might go up in smoke…

Indestructible is the first in a YA post-apocalyptic superhero-fantasy trilogy. It'll be published on the 12th January 2016.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Emma's Top 2015 reads: Fantasy

The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library was one of those rare books that ticks all the boxes for me. A magical library, alternative realities, adventure and magic. The protagonist works as an undercover spy for a secret library that collects fiction from different realities. It really is as awesome as it sounds.

Amazon UK

The Copper Promise (The Copper Promise, #1)

This series is so much fun! The Copper Promise is an engaging fantasy adventure with sympathetic lead characters. The settings and the fearsome creatures which populate them are wonderfully inventive. I particularly loved the Werkens, creatures of living rock which form close bonds with the people who live in the mountains. I love the characters in this series. Wydrin, Frith and Sebastian are all engaging and three-dimensional and even the most sinister villains have well-considered motivations.

The action is constant and the pace never lags. What starts as a simple quest soon becomes a problem on an epic scale, and I was riveted through the whole ride. Very highly recommended to fantasy lovers!

Amazon UK

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

While the premise of Red Queen initially seemed familiar--I've read a lot of YA fantasy and dystopia with similar premises--I actually really enjoyed it. In Mare Barrow's world, the poverty-stricken lower-class Reds serve in the war while the ruling Silvers live in luxury. But when a Mare unexpectedly demonstrates powers usually gifted only to Silvers, she is forced to adopt a false identity and leave her family for the deadly world of the Silver court.

This is a compelling, intense read. I loved the concept of division by blood, and the fight scenes and superpowers were very creative. Mare is a strong protagonist and the side characters are all fully developed, keeping me guessing as to who had ulterior motives. A very strong start to a new YA fantasy trilogy--I can't wait for Glass Sword!


Amazon UK

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

I was really excited to read Snow Like Ashes because I'd heard a lot of good things about it - and look at that gorgeous cover! It's easily one of the best YA fantasies I've read this year, with fantastic worldbuilding, and a kickass female lead character.

I was drawn into this book by the great cover, and I . There are still some familiar tropes (unique orphan from a conquered kingdom, a love triangle), but enough magic and
Amazon UK

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)

I'm a huge fan of all Victoria Schwab's work, and I knew I needed to get my hands on this (though I admit I waited until after my own London-based alternative-universe story was published before reading it). Parallel Londons and magic and cross-dressing thieves? Hell, yes!
Amazon UK

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1)

I've been meaning to read Locke Lamora for a while, and I'm glad I did! It's a dark, gritty and totally gripping epic fantasy with an engaging anti-hero. Recommended!
Amazon UK

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

So I've managed to get sucked into another series where I'll probably have to wait years for the next book (just as I was getting over GoT...). It's the kind of book where you walk around doing everything one-handed because you can't stop reading it. If you love fantasy of any kind, I'd highly recommend The Name of the Wind.

Amazon UK

An Ember in the Ashes

There was a lot of hype surrounding this book, but it's definitely well-deserved. I was completely sucked into the compelling, brutal world of the story. The characters are all fleshed-out and have their own motivations. The pace is pulse-pounding, and the plot grabbed me and didn't let go until the final page. It's rare I'm so completely swept away by a book, but I need a sequel!

Oh, wow. I'm always wary of hype, because it can make expectations unfairly high and ruin the reading experience. But I can see why An Ember in the Ashes caught so much attention. I was totally drawn into compelling world of the story. When Laia's brother's captured, she's forced to ally with rebels against the vicious Martial Empire to get him back, even if it means being a slave and a spy within the elite military academy. There, the brutal Trials to determine the next Emperor are taking place, but all the Commandant's son Elias wants is to get out. When he meets Laia, everything changes.

I absolutely loved this book. All the characters are fleshed-out and have their own motivations. The pace is pulse-pounding, and the plot grabbed me and didn't let go until the final page. It's rare I'm so completely swept away by a book, but I need a sequel!

Amazon UK

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy, #2)

Stolen Songbird was one of my top YA fantasy reads last year, and I was really excited to read the sequel. In Hidden Huntress, Cecile has returned from Trollus with the goal of tracking and killing the witch who cursed the trolls to spend eternity trapped inside the mountain, while also pursuing her singing career under the watchful eye of her estranged mother. She and Tristan are separated, but we also get Tristan's viewpoint as he is held captive by his own father and tries to fix the injustices towards half-bloods in Trollus. The tension is high throughout and there are plenty of twists, though I did guess the identity of the villain. I really like the magic system in this series, as well as the reimagining of trolls and legends. I liked the plot of Stolen Songbird more, but the world inside and outside Trollus is as complex and compelling as ever.
Amazon UK


I've been seeing a lot of hype around Uprooted by Naomi Novik, whose first Temeraire book I read a while ago and enjoyed. Uprooted is fabulous -- like a cross between Howl's Moving Castle and a fairy tale with clever, complex characters and a page-turning plot.
Amazon UK

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Queen of Shadows is one I've been looking forward to for a long time, and as I predicted, it swept me away from the first page. This series has developed so much from the world shown in Throne of Glass, and I was so invested in the characters, I barely paused while reading this 600-page book. Despite the book's length, the pacing is great, with every character getting their chance in the spotlight. While I predicted early on how the love interest-subplot was going to develop, it's handled maturely and doesn't detract from the thrilling, action-packed plot. There were so many heart-stopping action sequences, badass characters and thrilling twists. My only criticism is that I thought things wrapped up a little too neatly for Book 4 of a 6-book series--but given Maas's exceptional writing skills, I've no doubt she has great plans for the last two books!


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Indie Publishing: What I did right, what I did wrong, and future plans.

What I did right
  • Learned how to write a book first. I had to put this one here, because I think it's the most important. I had over ten years' experience struggling through first drafts and revising and rewriting and working with critique partners, beta readers and editors. I knew how to put a story together, and that knowledge was half the battle (and the reason I wrote the series so fast). I'm not Shakespeare, and I've had my fair share of bad reviews, but I always try my hardest to put out my best work.
  • Wrote in a series and published consistently, constantly re-evaluating my goals and brainstorming new ideas. I made a plan and readjusted it as I went along, and ultimately planned to play the long game.
  • Paid for professional covers and editing. I made sure my first venture into indie publishing was one I could be proud of.
  • Had realistic expectations. I didn't expect to sell a million copies. It probably helped that I'd had a different series published with a small press, so I knew what to expect from the first few months (and was pleasantly surprised with the results).
  • Used 99c sales (with advertising), cross-promotion and newsletters, rather than spending money on other promotional services which haven't worked for me in the past.
  • Ignored spam emails from marketing companies. Seriously.
  • Quit Goodreads (as an author). I love the site as a reader, but I'm so much happier not reading reviews...
  • Used trackable links (smarturls) to figure out which promotional methods actually lead to sales. (Spoiler: not much, aside from ads.)

What I did wrong
  • Wrote cross-genre. You can have a truly amazing premise, but if it doesn't fit into a recognisable sub-category, readers will struggle to find it unless you're already established. Of course, there's a chance it might be a runaway hit regardless, but given my track record, I'll be sticking to clear sub-genres in future.
  • Wrote novellas and short stories. Prequel novellas have worked very well for some authors, but for me, they've been my worst-selling titles to date. Because I charge less for them, it's impossible to break even on a novella unless you do your own cover art, which I really should have considered beforehand.
  • As for short stories, they work as an incentive to get people to sign up to my newsletter... possibly. I've only had one person contact me to say they enjoyed the story, out of over a thousand subscribers, and based on my trackable links, nobody who downloaded the story went on to buy any of my books. I find short stories more time-consuming to write than novels, so I probably won't be doing this again.
  • Published widely and only moved to KDP Select later on. I wanted my books to be widely available, but ultimately, most of my sales came through Amazon. Based on my time in KDP Select, I could have done much better if I'd opted in from the start, especially with Countdown Deals.
  • Committed to a long series without breaking even. This is a tricky one. I love the Alliance series, but the fact is, if I wasn't still living with my parents and didn't have any disposable income to invest in publishing once my setup budget ran out, I couldn't have afforded to publish six books in a series that was never going to make back the initial costs. However much I love a story, I never want to be put in the position where I'm forced to let fans down. Publishing is a harsh business.
What I'm planning to do in future
  • Publish shorter series. I'm writing an urban fantasy trilogy which I plan to publish in 2016-17. If it does well, I have outlines for two follow-up trilogies set in the same world and ideas for other spinoffs, too. If it doesn't do well... I'll move onto something else.
  • Pay more attention to the market. Enough said.
  • I'll only be doing paperback versions of books if there's strong reader interest.  (Partly because of extra costs for paperback covers, partly because of the time formatting takes. None of my books have sold more than ten paperback copies in a lifetime.)
  • If a marketing strategy or promotion doesn't work, I won't try it again with the same series. (This means things like pre-orders, paid advertising, etc.)
  • Looking at my current sales figures and the amount of time I have available, there's a strong chance I won't be putting out all three remaining books in the Alliance series next year. Naturally, each subsequent book in a series sells fewer copies than the previous volumes, and I'm already finishing one series next year (the Darkworld series). Production costs are high, and most promotional tactics aren't having the effect they might have done a couple of years ago. (Even sales and freebies.) The remaining books will be published, because it's only fair to the readers who want to finish the series, but unless the books dramatically take off, I'll be putting other series first.
I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who ultimately wants to write full-time, or at least have the main part of my income from selling novels. (At the moment, it's something like 80% freelance editing income, 20% book sales, with all my book earnings going back into production costs. And I've been published for over two years, with eight books currently on shelves.) I love what I do, and I'll continue to write fun side-projects as well as series, but I know I need to be more strategic about what I publish and when, if just to make this sustainable.

I'm sharing this because I read a lot of posts from self-published authors who are doing really well, which is great -- except it can seem to the rest of us like we're doing something wrong, even after following tips that have worked for other authors. Publishing isn't easy, and neither is building a fanbase. It's possible that some of these methods might actually work for authors who have fans who'd happily buy their grocery list, but after two and a half years of working overtime on promotion and making entirely too many sacrifices, I'm rethinking my strategy.

There are a lot of reasons books don't sell, and I can't pretend to know all of them, but I do know that luck is a major factor in a book's success. A lot of advice says "write what you love", but it tends to come from people who wrote something they loved that happened to be commercial. That isn't the case for all of us. And though a lot of factors can affect a book's success, once you've hooked a large number of readers on one book, it's much easier to sell future books to that audience, especially in the same sub-genre. On the other hand -- and this is from direct experience -- if a book isn't selling, it's extremely difficult to revive sales on a consistent basis without pouring more money into advertising and digging an even deeper hole.

Right now, my focus is on hitting the tipping point where my books sell themselves -- not necessarily in huge volumes, but enough that I don't feel like I'm throwing money away when I publish more sequels. So I'm putting my more commercially viable ideas first (though I admit all my ideas are pretty weird, and it's impossible to judge beforehand which book might inexplicably take off). I do have some other experiments in the works, too, so 2016 is set to be an interesting year. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Dual Cover Reveal: Gyre and Of Scions and Men!

CR Banner
Today's the day for a dual cover reveal: OF SCIONS AND MEN by Courtney Sloan and GYRE by Jessica Gunn! Both books are in the New Adult category and are being published by Curiosity Quills Press.
Here's a bit about each book:
OF SCIONS AND MEN by Courtney Sloan (February 22nd, 2016)
Geopolitical babysitting while arresting preternatural killers, it’s just the daily grind for Scion Rowan Brady. Brash and sarcastic, Rowan has sold her life, her career and her very blood to the controlling paranormal ruling class of America, all to make sure her kid brother can eat. Now she uses her powers as a scion to kick the ass of any preternatural creature idiotic enough to break the rules and prey upon humanity without a license. All it costs her is her freedom and a pint or two per week to her new Master.
But juggling her job and duties becomes even tougher when she is tasked with keeping a contingency of diplomats from Canada from getting gnawed on. However, negotiations for an International Blood Exchange are interrupted when bodies start showing up. Now Rowan must rely on her talent and wit to defend the society she despises to save the lives she’s sworn to protect. But as she stumbles into the truth, she chances becoming a target of not only these killers, but of her own government. With shifters, ghosts, vampires and psychics all watching her, can she stop the killings before she is silenced?
GYRE by Jessica Gunn (February 1st, 2016)
Trevor couldn’t believe his eyes when Chelsea teleported onto SeaSatellite5. The miracle is Trevor’s absolute worst nightmare. Chelsea is Atlantean, which would be fine if Trevor’s family weren’t Lemurian—enemies of Atlantis. Then SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and stumbles into the crosshairs of an ancient war. The Lemurians want the artifacts inside the ruins, and Trevor’s the only one onboard who recognizes the relics for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by ancient civilizations to wage their time-travel war. Chelsea and Trevor must brave the gyre of lies surrounding them. If they can’t, Atlantis will be destroyed forever.
Are you ready to see the covers?
Here we go!
Courtney SloanA New Orleans native, Courtney Sloan relocated to the hills of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina. There she lives with her husband and fellow author, J.P. Sloan, their son and their crazy German Shepherd pup. Adding to her writing life, Courtney is also a professor at the local college and enjoys learning a world of new ideas from her students as she teaches them about writing and communicating. Courtney’s New Orleans upbringing has left her with a love for the macabre and a flare for the next to normal. She writes speculative fiction with a variety of horror and sass mixed in for flavor.
She loves taking the world of politics that haunts us now, and adding the supernatural to create a gumbo of thrills to keep you up at night. A self-proclaimed lover of way too many fandoms, Courtney also loves crafting. From blankets to jams to stories, it’s always better homemade.
Author Links: Twitter | Website
1951de5Jessica Gunn is a New Adult author and avid science-fiction and fantasy fan. Her favorite stories are those that transport the reader to other, more exciting worlds. When not working or writing, she can be found binge-watching Firefly and Stargate, or feeding her fascination of the ancient world’s many mysteries. Jessica also holds a degree in Anthropology.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Emma's Top 2015 Reads: Science Fiction

Ready Player One

Ready Player One was one of those rare books I just lost myself in for a day. I didn't get all the references, but as a gaming nerd and writer, I was swept up in this story. Highly recommended!
Amazon UK

Firefight (Reckoners, #2)

Firefight is the second in Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners series, set in a future where superpowered individuals called Epics rule over humans. This action-packed follow-up to Steelheart is gripping and full of great twists.

Amazon UK

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

I must be the last person to pick up These Broken Stars, but I was hooked from the first page. Fantastic writing, a gripping plot, great characters and romance... this is one of the best YA science fiction books I've read!

The Legacy Human (Singularity #1)

The Legacy Human is the first book in Susan Kaye Quinn's Singularity series, and one of the best YA SF novels I've read--Read my review here!
Amazon UK

The Martian

This came highly recommended, so I picked it up before a long train ride and ended up reading it in one sitting! SO good. I'm looking forward to the movie!
Amazon UK

Avalon (Avalon, #1)

Wow! I was in the mood for some space sci-fi, and Avalon's been on my TBR list for a while. The first in Mindee Arnett's YA SF duology gripped me from the first chapter! A fabulous twisty adventure which kept me hooked from beginning to end.
Amazon UK

Chameleon (The Domino Project, #1)

I've had my eye on K.T. Hanna's debut since the cover reveal! Chameleon is one of the best YA sci-fi novels I've read in a long time. The action starts on page one, and kept me riveted until the final page. The characters are three-dimensional and complex. Sai is a fantastic lead character, strong and kickass but with a vulnerable side. Although she's a believable teen, the writing had a mature feel which will appeal to adult as well as YA readers. The other characters are well-developed and interesting, and there's just enough detail to create a vivid picture of the future-world without slowing the pace. Mostly, I loved how fresh and unique this story felt. I'd thoroughly recommend Chameleon to fans of both YA and sci-fi!
Amazon UK

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

Lastly, I finally read Winter, an awesome series end. If you haven't read the Lunar Chronicles yet (starting with Cinder)... yeah, get on that. It's awesome!
Amazon UK

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

IWSG: Promotional Burnout.


It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the creation of Ninja Captain Alex.

As I just released my fifth book of the year, my eighth title on shelves, it'll probably come as no surprise that my main insecurity is about marketing/promotion.

Word of advice: if you want to feel really terrible about your attempts at promotion, use trackable links so you can tell how many people haven't clicked on them... Suffice to say, after almost three years flailing around in the promotional waters, I've decided to default to a bare-minimum effort to keep my brain from leaking out my ears. It's enough to balance writing, freelancing and emails (which are a whole extra job in themselves), without adding on costly and frustrating promotion that, well, doesn't work. I have eight books coming out next year, and if I want to get any writing done at all, I'll have to cut down on marketing. It's got to the point where I'm watching the same promotional method crash and burn for the fifth time in a row and I'm wondering... why.

There's this constant anxiety that you always need to be doing something to promote. I fell into that trap. Especially when people whose judgement I (unwisely) trusted started guilt-tripping me for not trying hard enough. After I'd invested thousands of hours and god-knows-how-much money into every promotional method under the sun, most of which actually worked for other authors. My publishing journey has been a long trail of bad and costly decisions, but it makes it hard to know when to stop. Maybe if I tried this, or this, or spent yet more money on that... but it's never enough. It's like the lottery -- which I'd probably have more luck with! At this point, I have to step away.

I can't really overstate how much of a factor luck is in getting noticed. It's just the way it is. But it does mean I'll be making a few drastic changes next year -- rebranding, rearranging my release schedule according to popularity, and shelving non-commercial ideas. I wish I didn't have to, but I'm already burned out on promotion. I don't want to burn out on writing, too. I'm happier when I'm writing and not thinking about the aftermath, but I'm too damn stubborn to stop hoping the next book might be a hit. Or the next. Or the next...