This post has been a long time coming and that makes it no less painful to write, so please bear with me.
Since the new year began I’ve been inundated with emails and messages from readers, most of them asking the same questions, when is the sequel to (either Chasing Daybreak or Playing with Fire) coming, or where is my new book? And I’ve pushed these perfectly valid questions off long enough.
The simple answer is, I don’t know.
I’m still writing for all I’m worth, but life, as it always does, has thrown me wrench after wrench in the past two years and while I do have books finished, near finished, and in the pipeline, the delay has hit me hard. I don’t want to go into details but I want you to know that the books I’m writing NOW will likely not see the light of day for at least a year. That’s simply how this business works (in most cases). Publishing has always been a bit of a gamble–betting on what an audience will like 6 months or a year from now, where the trends will fall, and what the best outlet for sales will be–but lately, all I’m rolling is snake eyes.
So, I’ve made the very difficult choice to step back from the writing world, not fully but partially, in order to take jobs that will bring me more reliable income for my family. There are many reasons I’ve had to do this and I want you to understand some of them.
In the matter of the sequels–my beloved Chasing and Hacker books–the simple and hard truth is they aren’t selling. They have a small and ravenous fan base for which I’m eternally thankful, but they have not hit the sort of main stream sales needed to make continuing the series a priority. So when I look at my very limited writing time and schedule, I’m forced to give priority to other books, series that are selling, and new projects. Please know that leaving them on the bottom of my list pains me as much as it does you. I love these books, these characters, and I want to work on them as much as you want me working on them. But publishing is a business and its hard to justify spending 3 months of time to produce another book in a series that sells only a few copies a month. I hope to finish them off, but right now, I have no hard plans.
By contrast, my new projects take longer to produce and are also hit and miss. It took me over a year to write, edit, and sell The Canary Club and while it is a fan favorite, it doesn’t sell well enough to give me the cushion I was hoping for in order to work on my other, lower selling titles, and also, you know, eat and pay my rent.
What can I do about it? I can work with my publisher. I can circle the wagons on my series that do and are selling, and I can produce more of that, and I can do it as quickly as my limited time will allow.
So why take non-writing jobs? Why not just dedicate more time to writing?
The sad but simple answer is that even on my best selling titles, the income simply isn’t there. More and more readers are demanding free books to the point they are refusing to pay, pirating, and outright stealing them. This, I believe, is our fault as authors and publishers as much as anything. We have for the past several years, fostered a model of first book free and bottom dollar pricing in order to find new readers, in order to gain traction for authors just starting out. But we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. We’ve devalued our work to the point where easily half of the readership wont pay for it–or wont pay value. And why would they? When you can read literally millions of free books, why would you ever pay for one? When you can read free on platforms like KU or Wattpad or Scribid, why would you pay even the paltry .99 an author might charge for 3-6 months worth of their tireless work? I’m not laying the blame completely on readers here, but on our own shortsightedness as an industry. However, for authors, it’s beyond disheartening. It’s effecting our ability to keep doing what we love, to keep writing and putting out books.
And yet, if I told you the number of books I have to sell in a month to pay even ONE of my normal household bills, you’d be dumbfounded. My per book income is so minimal it makes my heart hurt to think about it.Three years ago, my monthly income was enough that I was able to work 100% on writing. It paid all the bills and covered my expenses (like appearing at events, which you do NOT get paid for, quite the opposite, you normally have to PAY to attend). But the market went south. And unfortunately, its only now beginning the slow crawl back upward. The way authors make money now is either by being picked up by a major house (and even that’s not a guarantee) or by producing at a mass rate, (a book every month or two to be safe). Let me be clear, I’ve tried both and both nearly killed me, mentally, creatively, and emotionally.
So yes, I will continue to write, where and when I can. But please don’t be angry if my production is slow, or if I have to focus on titles that are selling better than others. I’m hoping the new decrease of time actually helps me make my limited writing time as productive as it can be, and despite everything, I’m feeling really good about the changes I’m making. I hope that you, my dear readers, can be patient and continue supporting me as you always have. Please know I never want to let you down.