Monday 27 February 2023

Publishing Lows - The Creative Process


Last week I talked about five publishing highs (which you can find here) and so I thought to give a balanced view, I would also give you some of the five lows when it comes to publishing. Again, as an indie author, and only one person, these are all going to be personal to me, and they might not match another authors experience, and that's completely okay.

One thing that I always knew when I first got published in 2005 was that publishing was hard, there were gonna be highs, there were gonna be okays and then there were gonna be lows, the days and scenarios where you just wonder if what you're doing is the right thing, and whether you might be better off in another position. Now, for me personally, I don't see myself ever stopping writing. I might take a break here and there, maybe step away from publishing for a bit, but I don't see myself ever getting to that low point of deciding that writing is no longer something I want to do. But that's just me, and if you've reached that point, you have to do what's right for you, and no one else should or can tell you otherwise.

So moving onto the lows of publishing? What things do I remember over my (almost) eighteen years as an indie author? What stuck in my mind as a massive low point? And how did I move on from it? The last I might not answer for every single one, but the option is there if I have something to add.

I talked about, in the highs, that one of mine was the first glowing review, so it only makes sense that I talk about the other end of the spectrum. I've had bad reviews in my time, I don't actually know of any author who hasn't. I think it's a bit of a rite of passage, that you've reached enough readers that they have thoughts and opinions on your work that might not be what you were hoping for. I remember my first bad review crushed me. I never responded to the reviewer, I never spoke to anyone about it. I just absorbed the blow and moved on. Of course these days I would do everything exactly the same, but I would tell my friends about it. It wouldn't be public because that is not a good look, but it would be something we'd talk about.

It can be soul-crushing to have poured your heart and soul into something, and then get slapped in the face with the knowledge that not everyone likes what you've written. I mean, it can be a good thing too. What turns off one reader, will draw in another. So in a glass half full kinda way, this is not going to destroy your career.


Now, if you know me, you know that I don't do well with deadlines and like to avoid them if at all possible. Of course it's not always possible, and for me a massive low was knowing that no matter how hard I worked, there just weren't enough hours in the day for me to pull off a last minute miracle. I was going to miss the deadline, and it was going to push back the release, and it was going to make me look terrible to my readers.

Back in those days, I was Kindle exclusive and they didn't yet have pre-order, but I still felt terrible. I'd let down my readers, they would drop me and never look back. It was the end of the freaking world. Of course, it wasn't. I extended the deadline, I dealt with the anxiety, and I got the book out about a month later than planned, and all was fine. It sold, readers loved it, and the sky did not fall, but it can very much feel like it will!

This is one that I'm wary about including because of course it is an honour to even be within the awards themselves. I don't want to come across as having a massive ego, because I do not and have never, thought that I'm 'owed' something because I happened to write a book or two. I just mean those private moments when the results are announced and your book didn't make the cut. Of course you're delighted for those who did, and you mean every word of your congratulations, but you're also nursing your own hurt, and keeping it off social media, about the fact that you weren't one of them. This has happened to me twice now, and even with the awards I have won, it still stings.

I've said this before, but I'll said it again, I have never had a release that hasn't had something, from the small and mundane to the large and catastrophic, go wrong. Sometimes it's my fault, other times it's something else, but this is always a low point for me, because, as I said in the second point, I don't want to let down my readers, and don't want to risk upsetting them and having them drop me as an author. I have never, since pre-orders were a thing on Amazon, missed that deadline, but I do know people who have, or who've had the wrong version of their book released on release day and it's stressful as anything!

I'm not someone who checks my sales religiously. I usually remember to do it once a fortnight or once a month. It really depends on what else is going on, but sometimes you'll check and there'll be a huge drop in the numbers, and that's when the panic starts. Did something go wrong? Is there a glitch? Or have you really made such a small number of sales? It's one of those things where I think checking daily is a hard habit to break. I used to do that when I first started and I'd go through that same cycle of panicking about why people, more people, weren't buying my books. I don't really have any advice here, other than to keep breathing and remember that slumps happen. It's okay!

So there we go, those are my five lows when it comes to publishing, do you have any? Lemme know in the comments!

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