I’ve committed a ton of screw-ups. I’m sure I’ll make many more. While I’m successful enough to make a living, I’m not on the A-list of bestselling writers, and I don’t think I want to be. While the money E. L. James makes on the Fifty Shades phenomenon would be nice, I’d rather not be scrutinized at the level her writing is. To be under that microscope would be a nightmare.
What mistakes have I made since Alien Embrace was first published and sold better than I had any right to hope? Here are some of the majors:
Caring about reader reviews and how many stars they give my books
Let me start off by amending that just a bit. I appreciate people putting forth the effort to review my books. I really, really do. When a person takes that kind of time out of their day to let others know why they did or did not enjoy a story, it matters. If it didn’t, some writers would not buy good reviews (yes, that happens). Reviews can affect sales, so they are important. Those who have bothered to review my books, I am grateful to you and I thank you with all my being. Yes, even the low rating reviews serve a purpose. Thank you all for offering your honest opinions so others can see if what I write is what they wish to read.
In the early days (all of three years ago, lol), I read every review I found written about my books. My heart leapt to see 4- and 5-star reviews. I did happy dances all over the place. I was like Sally Field at the Oscars beaming, “You like me! You really like me!”
As happy as those reviews made me, nothing sent me plummeting into the darkest depths of despair faster than a 1- or 2-star review. They made me feel like I had no business writing at all. They made me feel lower than the deepest pit of Hell. Or they made me angry when they were so clearly off the mark. The review that appeared for Alien Rule inaccurately bitching that both Jessica and Michaela were hermaphrodites could have easily derailed sales, and there was nothing I could do about it. It made me crazy.
Then again, in a lot of cases, I shouldn’t have worried. No, from many reviews I’ve received, it’s clear the readers didn’t bother checking other reviews, book descriptions, warning labels, or the free preview before buying. They didn’t make sure my work was for them before diving in, only to be scandalized by the kinds of things I write. Then they had the gall to complain. Seriously?
Yep, I gave up reading reviews about a year ago. It wasn’t worth the drama. Besides, it turned out what made many readers happy was the same thing that upset others. I discovered I can’t meet every single person’s expectations – surprise! Who would have thunk?
In the end, I figured out what many authors have preached forever: write what you want to read. The only person I can guarantee to make happy is me. So I write what makes me happy and ignore the reader reviews, both good and bad.
Posting About Myself
You know something? I am not that interesting. In all seriousness, I am the first person to tell you I am incredibly boring. If my life was any more mundane, I could double as a throw rug.
Based on post hits, here are the things that get my readers’ attention:
3. Issues in the writing world, or the writer’s life (like this particular blog)
1. The Clans of Kalquor
The few times I talk about me, my blog hits dwindle. No surprise there. Does it bother me that I am not that important in the scheme of things? That you’re not all panting to know everything about me? Hell, no. I’m a pretty private person to start with, and I’m not in the market for stalkers. Plus I know from Facebook what a drag it is to see what everyone ate for dinner, what their political views are, how bored/sensational/horny/tired a person is feeling right at that very moment, so on and so forth. Much like those folks, the minutia of my life is not a thrill for anyone outside my immediate friends and family. It’s probably no thrill to them either, for that matter. I try to keep such things to myself for the most part.
I don’t want to irritate my readers with bland bits from a bland life. You guys have better things to read, right? Of course you do, which is why I try to keep my posts to the three things you like best. You’re not interested in me wasting your time, and I’m not interested in it either.
Pushing Too Hard
The latest and greatest thing I’ve learned came as a result of the insane New Year’s Challenge I dumped on myself this year. Starting a new book each month has essentially blown my circuits, as I wrote about in a recent blog.
It’s not just this year, however. I’ve been writing like a maniac since signing the publishing contract for Alien Embrace about 3 1/2 years ago. It’s been normal to have four to six projects going at once for me. This year that number went up to ten simultaneous books. My synapses began to fry in earnest back in June and finally fizzled out and died last month.
Erotica writers put out more books in a short time frame than any other genre. As my former publisher told me, striking while you’re hot is the best way to guarantee a steady income. It’s true; I’ve been riding a slowly growing wave of popularity for three years now, and it’s partly because I’ve been so prolific. However, averaging a new book every couple of months takes an awful toll. I put myself through the wringer for a while, working 12-hour days, every day. By the time I started giving myself a couple of days off each week, the damage had already been done. I finally knew I had to pace myself better and give myself longer and more frequent breaks. Earning a living through writing is wonderful, but only if you can take the time to enjoy it.
These are the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned. Sometimes I forget and fall back on my evil ways. For the most part however, I’m committed to making newer and even more ridiculous errors as a writer. I’m sure I’ll meet that challenge. Feel free to stick around and watch the fun. ;)