It started two years ago–a disappointment here, a disenchantment there–and bit by bit, it seeped into everything: the writing groups I quit, the associations I ended, the decisions I avoided making. My natural inclination was to put my head down and write. And I did. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote what I think is the best book of my career. I wrote new and different things. I wrote things that were a challenge, and things that were just for fun.
But then the writing part would end, and the rest would flood back in–I’d be faced with the other half of my job, the business.
I began Indie publishing five years ago, and I loved it. I studied it and practiced it and I was decent at it. Not phenomenal, but decent. I learned things that worked, I wrote books that sold, I got better. I was never bored, and I never dreamed there would come a day when I would begin to loathe the business I was so committed to.
But somehow in the last few months what I thought would never happen, did–I fell out of love with Indie publishing.
It’s not news to most devoted Indie readers, and certainly not to any Indie writer, that there have been tremendous changes in the industry since it first exploded in 2011. The market flooding, the advent of KU, the monetization of Facebook, algorithm changes, more KU–the list goes on and on.
Any author will tell you it’s exhausting. And more than that, it’s demoralizing.
There are plenty of authors who have weathered these changes and come out even better–selling more books, earning more money, gaining more fans. But there are also many who, like me, find themselves losing something at each one of these turning points–sometimes it’s income, sometimes it’s self-confidence, sometimes it’s the ability to master the newest skill needed to succeed. And I don’t use the term “lose” lightly. Because it’s a refrain that plays in my head a lot these days: you lost, you’re losing, you’re a loser.
Those incremental losses really caught up to me in the last few months. I woke up one day and my first thought was: I don’t think I can keep doing this. That’s when I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore. It’s been a difficult few weeks, and I’ve faced some very hard choices. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I do know this: for me, the business of books has stolen the joy of them. The frenetic pace of publishing and marketing, the intensely competitive market, the unyielding social media pitfalls and online vigilantism, the constant barrage of new road blocks to cross, new tools to master, new rules and fads–all of it has eroded my love of this industry. After five years, my workplace is filled with conditions and demands that I am supremely ill-equipped to handle, and even more ill-equipped to enjoy.
So now I’m faced with yet another incarnation of this journey. What that looks like isn’t entirely clear to me. It doesn’t mean I’m going to disappear, I’ll always write and I’ll always put those stories into the world to entertain others, but where I do that and how I do that is something evolving (after I complete my contracted works during the remainder of this year of course). My initial thought is it will mean options and platforms where the parts of the business that crush my soul are handled for me. I am certain it’s going to mean other sources of income because this was my full-time job and I have a kid in college. And in the end, I hope it means a lot less time online, a lot more time outdoors, and a life where books mean reading, writing, and friends, rather than ads, algorithms, and lawsuits.