Today I made the decision that I’m not longer going to run in the rat race that has become a part of the indie world of publishing.
Over the past year, I’ve been pushing myself hard to get books out, and I’ve only taken on projects that I believed would have the best time of selling (except for Taming The Viscountess which is one of my favorites AND The Bride Price and The Rejected Groom which features my favorite family, the Larsons). I know my books aren’t for everyone. I tried to make a couple of them for a wider audience, and those books did sell better.
There is something to be said for writing to market. Writing to market isn’t a dirty term. All it means is that the writer focuses on what readers when when they write books. It’s all about tailoring things specifically to the reader. When writers do this, it doesn’t mean the book is going to suck or that the writer is selling out. It means the writer is being business savvy in an ever-increasingly competitive market. So I’m not criticizing any writer who writes to market. It is a good business move that often comes with rewards.
But lately, it’s occured to me that I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Who I am as a writer doesn’t fit the “write to market” paradigm. The books I’m most interested in writing aren’t ones that most readers want. So I had to decide: do I keep trying to write to market, or should I write what I most want?
The other day, I actually thought, “I want to give up writing. It’s not fun anymore.” And that scared me. And it’s why I’m going to have to stop writing to market.
Running in the rat race for the past two years has gotten me to the point where I’m exhausted. And quite frankly, I’m done with it.
I’m done worrying about writing at a breakneck speed just so I can get a new book out sooner, too. That’s another part of the rat race. I know some authors can get a book out every week, but I’m not one of them. If I started doing that, my books would start to come out as rushed, forced, and just like others I’ve already done. I know this because I started doing this last summer when I was pushing myself to do 5000 words a day every single day. I had to stop and finish up the books when the kids returned to school. And at that time, I had to slow it back down to 3000 words five days a week, which I have learned is my best pace.
So today, I asked myself, “Why did I get into writing in the first place?”
I got into writing because I couldn’t find the kind of romances that I wanted to read. I couldn’t find a single author (besides Carolyn Davidson) who wrote the three things I most wanted in a romance novel: sex inside of marriage, the value of family, and an appreciation for the Christian faith. Carolyn Davidson nailed all of those, but she was only one author. And I wanted to read more books. So I ended up writing them.
I’m writing what pubishers weren’t putting out because publishers already knew there wasn’t a big enough market for it. I write a niche type of romance. I need to go back to appreciating that. (For those who think I can do clean romances, I tried that, and I didn’t like the books until I put sex into them. It always seemed like something was missing if the sex wasn’t included.)
I guess in the end, I decided that I need to be true to myself, and doing that ultimately means I’m not going to please most people.
So anyway, I’m settling in for the reality that I’m on a limited time where I can afford to keep writing and publishing books. Eventually, I’ll probably get a job outside the home because running a business is very expensive, and when income drops, you have to scale things back. Well, there’s a point where everything bottoms out. I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but I do think of myself as a realist. I lost half my income since the beginning of the year. I don’t know why, but it’s just the way it is. And I have to adjust to that reality.
And who knows? Maybe God is telling me, it’s time to start thinking of doing other things in the future. Maybe there’s something else he has coming down the road for me to do. Maybe this writing thing is here for a season, and while it’s been a great season, maybe there’s something even better out there waiting for me.
I’m hoping I can pull through until my kids are all out of school. Then I can be free to work whatever hours my employer wants me to work. Right now, I’m tied to the school schedule. When the kids have dental or doctor appointments, it’s during school hours. When they’re sick, someone needs to watch them during the day. I’ve been fortunate to have been a stay-at-home mom since they were born. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything, and I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom until the youngest is out of the house.
So what does this mean for the immediate future?
I’m going to write the stuff I really want to get done. Time is short, and I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the right time to come along to get to a story I’m passionate about. I might be able to keep writing. I might not. I don’t know. But I’m committed to doing whatever God has planned for me. And since I still have the luxury of writing, I’m going to go through my writing list over the next few weeks to decide what books I most want to write. Then I’m going to focus on those.