Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mistakes I’ve Made as a Writer

To err is human.  It happens quite publicly when you’re a writer, putting your work out in the world.  I think I once dangled a participle.  No, no, I’m not talking those kinds of mistakes.  Ha!  If I was writing a blog about the grammar errors and poor wording choices I’ve made in my work, we’d be here all day.  No, I’m talking about the mistakes made as a person attempting to promote my work and make readers happy.

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)
2.  Sex
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.  ;)


  1. First, let me say, I have been reading your books for about two and half years. I love your stuff far more than the lame Fifty Shades of Grey books. I couldnt get through the first one. I guess I like it three at a time and with sexier men.
    Second, I felt your New Year's resolution to start so many books was really going to be to much. I really worried my favorite author was going to burn herself out? So please, slow down.
    I rather have your awesome books a few at a time than not at all.
    I am also an older women with an incredibly dull suburbian life.
    Your books are one of the few bright spots in my life. Take time to relax a little. Please don't fry those perfect writting neural circuits.

    1. You're sooooo right about the 50 Shades of Grey books...they are lame and so not what the lifestyle is all about. They are a joke and a shudder among those who do know what the lifestyle is.

    2. I think you just proved her point on not wanting to be 'scrutinized at the level'.

  2. Mistakes you've learned from and grown from. Nothing wrong with that and, imo, everything good with that.

    I don't remember how I first found your books, or whether I read the reviews or not. I just remember reading and enjoying. I remember thinking it was going to be a short, barely well-done story like so many others and being totally surprised that it wasn't. I remember finding myself hooked and wanting more.

    I bought more and looked for more and found your blog looking for when the next one would be coming out and at that time that is all that I cared about. Then, I started reading your blog and seeing bits and pieces of you, the person behind the stories. I like what I see.

    So. Keep making those mistakes, learning & growing from them and writing the stories we all enjoy. But. Don't burn yourself out in the doing of it.

  3. We're all human, and therefore, not infallible.

  4. I appreciate all the bits and pieces of a writer's life that you've given us. I'm also trying to make a go of it as a writer while keeping up with my very ordinary (and very busy) life and you inspire me. I read your blog and tell myself that real people CAN do this and be successful at it. You're tutorials were very valuable to me and helped me break the monumental task of the first book into manageable pieces. Thank you for all your good advice. I'll keep buying Kalquor books as long as you feel like writing them but do remember that the books are only part of your life, not all of it and pace yourself.