I like to view life as one big learning experience. And for all its pitfalls, 2017 taught me a lot. Some of this is personal, some of it less so, but in the end it all informs my writing and my career, so here we go:
- Our new toys are broken. Amazon and Facebook made indie authors, but 2017 was the year I had to admit they’re broken. The corporate greed that drove both platforms during 2015 and 2016 came to a crashing head in 2017. Facebook oversold ad space to the extent that the ads quit working. Amazon pushed their KU subscription model to the point that it became filled with fraud and abuse. We can’t live without Facebook and Amazon (yet), but this was the year I accepted I will need to look elsewhere, find new avenues to pursue, and accept the new limitations of the platforms that once provided me with the bulk of my income.
- I am in this for the long haul. When I first started in indie publishing it was hard, but it was nothing like it’s been in 2017. My Amazon earnings were the lowest they’ve been since the first year I published. And that meant I had to go to my husband and say, “Do you want me to get a different job?” He said, “No. This is what you do. You earn what you earn.” We’ll blog another time about what an awesome supportive hubby Mr. L is, but the bottom line was I then had to ask myself, “Will I do this no matter what? No matter how bad it gets and how low the pay?” And the answer was yes.
- Being an American isn’t what it used to be. I’m fifty years old, and I grew up during a time of relative peace and prosperity. It gave me the luxury not to think much about what being an American meant. And I never questioned whether my country’s values were aligned with my own. 2017 was the year I realized my country isn’t the place I thought it was. This year I’ve had to decide who I am in relation to a lot of things I always took for granted. I’ve had to decide what being an American means to me. And I’ve had to accept that there are a lot of people–on both ends of the political spectrum–who I simply can’t see eye to eye with, and honestly don’t even like all that much. I’ve ended a year of extremes realizing how much I value diplomacy, moderation, and thoughtful, astute analysis. And how much I don’t and won’t support the current mantras on both ends, people who are so hell bent on getting their own way they won’t compromise, and a political system that’s more broken than Amazon and Facebook.
- I only have so much power. 2017 forced me to get very real about what I can control and what I can’t. I can’t control Facebook. I can’t control Amazon. I can control what I write, where I publish it and how I promote it. I can’t control the institutions around me–the government, the corporations, the internet. But I can the choices I make day-to-day, and the things I value. Because of that I’m going to spend a lot of time during 2018 making small changes that will hopefully add up to big growth. I’ll be looking at the places I put my money, the activities I spend my time on, the decisions I make about my lifestyle, my business, and the people I engage with. I’m tired of rhetoric and debates and the people who spend their days on both. When you’re a writer it’s hard to make the shift from words to actions, but I’m determined to do it, and my track record of doing the things I’m determined to is pretty damn good.
- Nothing is forever. Not books, not governments, not people. Not Facebook or Amazon or Walmart. Things change, and if we want to survive we have to change with them. That goes for publishing and life, relationships and love. As much as we wish nothing would ever change, it’s simply not the way the world works. My world changed a ton this year, and my guess is that’s not done. The best thing I can do is accept it, assess it, and learn from it. I have hope for 2018, not because I expect the world around me to do what I want it to, but because I’m always learning and growing, and that’s really all any of us can do.
Now, what did you learn in 2017?