I wasn’t sure how to title this post. As of late, I’ve been considering possible paths on what I want to be doing in the future. I’m still undecided, but I like to ramble from time to time on this blog because it helps me process the thoughts that are cycling through my mind. Yeah, I’ve tried to privately journal my thoughts, but it just doesn’t work as well for me. I’m not sure why. It just is what it is. This particular method of writing things down work best for me.
Okay, so the particular question that’s been going through my mind over the past year and a half is this: when will it be time to walk away from writing? Deep inside, I can feel that there will be a time when I walk away from it. I don’t know if that will be a break or if it’ll be permanent. But I can feel it welling up inside of me. I love to write, but I’ve been writing nonstop for the past 12 years. My average is producing six novels a year. (In romance, 50K is a full-length novel.)
I ran the numbers tonight, and the total romances (including a couple of novellas I’ve done) is 79. That number does include the novels I will publish later this year. I finished The Wedding Pact, Fairest of Them All, Nelly’s Mail Order Husband, and Forever Yours. If I total the amount of books I’ve done in other genres, the total comes to 92. (A few of those are novellas.) I’ve done six short stories. That’s all within 12 years.
I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to live at a time when it was possible for me to publish my books regardless of content or length. I didn’t have to have a publisher telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I called the shots. It really is a marvelous time to be a writer.
That all being said, I am considering when I’ll “close shop” (so to speak). I would keep the books I’ve done up for sale as long as the retailers will let me. But I have been asking myself, “What do you want to do when the kids are all out of high school?” My youngest is now going into the 8th grade. That gives me five years to make a plan for the future. And one of the things I’m considering is hanging up the writing hat and doing something else. It might be time to transition to a new chapter in my life.
Anyway, at the moment, I have a goal of completing 100 romances. One of the dreams I had back in the Fall 2007 when I started writing romances was that I would publish 100 books before I died. Back then, I wasn’t thinking of whether they would be romances or include other genres. All I knew was that I wanted to have 100 books out. These weren’t short stories. These would be 100 paperbacks I wrote that I could put in my bookshelf and say, “That was a goal I accomplished in the course of my lifetime.” It was the #1 item in my bucket list. Being able to self-publish my books made that dream possible.
I thrive off of goals. I need something to shoot for. So tonight I sat down and realized I only need 21 more romances to reach a goal of 100 romances. That’s pretty exciting. My average is 6 novels a year. So if I work at that pace, I can reach that goal in 3.5 years. That puts me well in time for my goal to figure out what the next chapter of my life will look like once the kids are all graduated from high school.
Like I said, I don’t know what I’m going to end up doing. I’m just rambling so I can better organize my thoughts. 😀
I had a brief argument with myself about liking this post – or not liking it. Why? Because I can’t see someone with your talent ‘not’ writing. I could see you maybe taking on a new pen name switching genres. I don’t know which one but maybe one that has longer stories and just doing three a year? Like space opera, crime drama, paranormal. You could make your goal to travel to a new location to write each book. Maybe on the coast of the ocean for one, and the side of a mountain in Virginia for another.
I know. Just tossing out suggestions because I’d hate to see you give up writing. But just because it’s something I can’t imagine doing doesn’t mean you don’t have other dreams. So I’ll just say good luck in figuring out what it is you want to do in five years – and I hope you enjoy whatever that is as much as you’ve enjoyed writing a hundred books. 🙂
Yeah, I figured quite a few people woudn’t like this post. I just needed to think aloud (as much as blogging is “thinking out”). I’ve tried the pen name thing and switching genres. I made about $50 (maybe $60) total out of the four paid books I put out. (That has been since January 2018.) Since March, I’ve gotten $0 each and every month. I just can’t commit to another pen name or genre at this point.
The only money I make is off the romance books. I need to make something in order to help support the family. My husband works full-time, but when you have four teen boys, the wages he’s bringing in isn’t enough. I can still make up for the amount we need with the writing, but with income continually dropping (and it’s dropping for a lot of authors from what I hear), I might have to give up writing so I can get another job. I’m just trying to mentally prepare myself for that possibility, so I have a game plan in place. I don’t like rushing into a decision, which is why I’m giving myself 3.5 to 4 years to write. I see the income dropping, and it’s hard not to jump into a secure job. Right now I’m in a wait-and-see position. It’s a lot easier to make money if you’re writing to market. Most authors reporting good money are writing to market. I just can’t emotionally bring myself to do that anymore. I’m burned out from it. Some authors can make the write to market thing work, but I’m not one of them.
Either way, I am excited about hitting 100 romances. If I can do that, I don’t think I’ll have any regrets, regardless of how things play out in the future.
Sent from my iPad
You’re sweet, Bonnie.
I love your stories and will be sad when this chapter of your life ends. God knows the plans he has for our lives and I know He will help you with your future plan(s).
I appreciate that, Cindy. My prayer is that I’ll be in His will, no matter what path I travel. I’ve had enough of steering off His path. Those times never ended well. I have been very blessed that He’s given me the time He has where I’ve been able to write stories that come from the heart. If this had been at any other time in history, I doubt my stories would have ever seen the light of day. I have a lot to be thankful for. 🙂
I can’t even imagine you not writing. I work a full time job, and I would love to be able to write and edit full time and not have to do the 8:00 to 5:00 grind five days a week. I’ve always envied writers who can do that. But as things change in the publishing world, authors are struggling. Readers want “free” all the time. Some say they can’t afford books, but if authors can’t afford to write them, there won’t BE any books. For authors to make a decent living, they can’t keep giving books away. I’m about at the giving up point unless my other pen name starts doing better. I’ve never made an actual living writing except maybe when I first started before everybody decided they could publish books. I thought ebook publishing would keep getting better and better, but when you go to Amazon and can’t even find your own book by typing in the EXACT title in the search, you know things aren’t fair. Ruth, I really don’t want you to give up writing. You’re the hope for so many of us who are struggling. BUT…if you can’t make a living, I totally understand why you feel you have to do it. I just hope things get better instead of worse. I think I speak for all on this blog when I say I LOVE your books. Here’s hoping things get better in the next 3-5 years!
Sometimes I envy people who have the 8:00 to 5:00 five days a week job because they know how much they’re getting in their next paycheck. It makes budgeting a lot easier when you have a reliable source of income coming in. That all said, I am glad I had the chance to spend a decade playing around in imaginary worlds with people who seem like old friends by the time I’m done with the books.
I think the industry is just not very supportive of an indie author who isn’t a big name. Amazon has definitely had a big impact on the downward trend. They were instrumental in the early success, though, and who knows if other retailers would have ever opened the doors to indies if it hadn’t been for them. So it’s been a love-hate kind of thing I feel for Amazon. The start was terrific. The end, not so much. And it doesn’t help when other retailers promote the heck out of trad books while pushing indies aside. I remember when B&N was giving indies equal footing. As soon as they made deals with trad publishers, my income there (along with other authors who were doing well there) plunged overnight, and it never did go back to what it once was. I know there are many factors that had led to it getting harder and harder for indies to get noticed, but those are a couple I noticed.
I’m not seeing how things are going to get better. I don’t think of myself as a pessimistic. I think of myself as being realistic about the things going on around me. Amazon is about 80% of the book market. That means Amazon has the greatest influence on readers’ expectations. KU has trained a lot of people to expect unlimited books for a low monthly price, so now the thought of paying $2.99 or more for a book from an another who isn’t a big time seller is hard to justify. I’ve even gotten complaints about charging $0.99, and I think that is really cheap. But compared to KU which is $9.99 a month, I guess it is expensive. It’s just one book, and most romance readers finish a book or two in one day. If you paid $0.99 for each book, that really does add up. $9.99 is pretty much a no-brainer. If I was reading books all the time, I’d join KU, too.
As much as I’d like to think that writing a good story will enable me to keep income coming in, the sales haven’t been playing this out. I’m now making more wide than I do at Amazon, and I don’t sell very well wide. I think my books are so “niche” within the romance market that the only way they could appeal to a large number of people was when ebooks were all shiny and brand new. There weren’t a lot of them back then, so it was easy to get noticed. These days, there are so many books out there that I have trouble navigating my way through all of them when I’m looking for a new author. It’s overwhelming. Those bestselling charts or ads are the easiest way to find authors. It’s so crowded, and it certainly doesn’t help when you type in an author’s exact name or title of the book, and you get pages of other authors and books instead. I can’t even get good results when looking for a keyword if I’m looking through fiction. Most of those are cluttered with ads that often have nothing to do with what I’m searching for. I suspect that readers have a frustrating time discovering new authors because of this. I know I get frustrated, and I don’t even read much.
I’ve complained to Amazon (as a reader) that I should be able to look up books by exact title. They don’t listen, though.
I do read a lot, and I still won’t join KU. Just because of what it’s done to book sales. It’s a matter of principle for me.
One way I find new books to read is by going to blogs I trust to steer me toward good books. There’s one I look at a lot because she hosts authors all the time and has a good following. I’ve gotten lots of books because of her recommendations. I do occasionally look at ads. I get the Fussy Librarian newsletter, and I have found books that way, too. Just going through Amazon is like wading through mud. If I want to search for a particular author’s book, I usually search for the author, not the book. Otherwise, I might never find it.
Speaking of Barnes & Noble…you did know they got bought out, didn’t you? Or bailed out might be more like it. I’m curious as to what that’s going to mean for authors. Some predict it might be a good thing.
I’m not surprised Amazon didn’t listen. I’ve heard other readers say Amazon isn’t listening to them, either. It’s a shame because I remember back in 1995 when I first found them. Their customer service was awesome. Up until a couple years ago, it stayed that way, too. I guess when a company gets too big, it loses it’s ability to run optimally.
I don’t think most readers even know what KU does to authors. They assume authors are getting paid fairly. Another author was telling me some readers are starting to leave KU because the quality of books isn’t as good anymore. Considering the trend of KU authors trying to pump out books faster and faster, I can see why the quality is declining. In romance, KU authors need a book out every week in order to stay relevant on Amazon. It’s all about visibility, and KU authors are struggling to keep up with the algorithms. There are some authors who aren’t struggling, but enough are where they’re producing books like a hamster in a wheel and finding it harder to keep up.
I wonder how many readers go to blogs. It seems that a popular blog would be a premium spot for authors, but getting featured is probably difficult. I agree. Amazon’s search engine is like wading through mud.
I heard that B&N got bought from a guy who saved a company that was having trouble. I can’t remember the name off the top of my head. I think it starts with a “W”. Anyway, my big hope is that B&N doesn’t go out of business. I don’t want to see another retailer close. It’s too scary to think Amazon might succeed in being the only game in town. If that happens, then it really will be over for most indie authors. Competition is desperately needed to keep things going. There was someone who said in a FB group that KU authors need authors who are wide in order to keep their income coming in, and she was right. If no authors were wide, KU authors would see their income fall overnight. We need every retailer we can get.
Perhaps the difference is that you have the opportunity for honest feedback by blogging your thoughts rather than journaling them.
That could be. Maybe the fact that someone might say something prompts me to take serious thought into what’s going around in my mind. 🙂
Sounds plenty plausible for me.
I understand completely. There comes a point where there are other things you want to try, other things you want to do, but to keep at the full time writing you can’t do any of those things. I’ve tapered way down to semi-part time at this point for that exact reason. But wow! 100 novels! That will be exciting! I have 10 novels and am working on number 11 (though if I divide them up into 50k l guess it’s 22 and some, LOL! Different genre lengths and all.) You should be more than proud that you’re almost there! 😀
You make a good point. There are a lot of things I’ve had to give up to write as much as I do. Sometimes I dream of having my free time to sit back and relax instead of updating book links, getting bookkeeping in order, tweaking a book description, getting the cover art lined out, book promotion, and other non-writing activities. My husband works, comes home, and he can sit and watch TV. I keep thinking, “What a lucky guy.” LOL
Romance is notorious for its short length. Yep, 50K is a full-length novel. I just finished an 86,000 word novel, and it felt like the story was never going to end. I got so used to 50-60K. But that is one of my favorites. I finally did a gothic romance. That was another bucket list item. 🙂
I am looking forward to 100 romances in my bookcase. That’ll be fun.