The road to success in Indie publishing has been a winding, treacherous, and heartbreaking path. I gave myself one year to find success, then I loosened the reins and gave myself two years, but extended further to three years. However, there comes a point when an author/business-owner has to realize their limitations and make some tough decisions. I've come to a place where I realized mine and have decided what is best for me--stepping back.
Sure, many other authors (especially midlist ones) will say that I didn't want it bad enough. And I'd have to agree there is a degree of truth to that. I didn't want it badly enough to sacrifice everything but enough blood to continue my heart beating in my aching chest--a bit dramatic but, hopefully, you catch my drift.
When I released my recent book Spellbound, I was already sure it would tank. Just a feeling. Large word-count books in a series have seemingly fallen out of favor. I'd read so many comments in Reader Groups on Facebook claiming romance readers had series fatigue--unless it were tried and tested series that were always promoted by word of mouth. Readers wanted a quick read and wanted to move on to the next book or series. I, myself, wanted to finish my series so I could move onto other exciting stories that I'd planned years in advance. Additionally, my readership had already been decreasing. My reviews were less than a quarter of my first book. And in the end, I didn't do much advertising (paid or blogger) for Spellbound because I'd relied on one thing--Amazon Followers. I'll explain shortly.
In book marketing, there is no relying on one thing to deliver success . You must approach promotion through multiple streams--but I digress. Before releasing and during release of Spellbound, I'd done a giveaway of ebooks through Amazon. The giveaway required entrants to "Follow" my author profile so they may get future announcements of my releases. The Follow button, which is underneath the Amazon Author's profile picture, is this mythical object that many of us think will assist us in reaching out to Followers who may not have signed up for an author's newsletter/mailing-list, social media page, etc. My goal was to reach out to those readers who read my previous books and pressed the follow button. Yet, I didn't know if the Followers number from 1 or 10,000. Amazon doesn't give Indies those details. Actually, they don't give Indies any details about the Follow button's function and purpose.
When I released Stained Glass Shards, I received an email from Amazon asking me to write a note to my Followers about the release. And while I didn't sell a ton of that book, I'd hoped it was an anomaly. Meaning, I'd hoped it was because readers really wanted to read The Pentagon Group series rather than a new non-romance-romance. But as my thoughts about my participation in the Indie world swirled, I realized that Followers just didn't care enough to read my books. Because if they did--if they really liked my writing and voice--they would buy all my subsequent books and they hadn't. And even when they did, there was no fan fare. No reviews. No emails or private messages to tell me that they liked it, hated it, meh'd it. I got nothing. In getting nothing, I started to lose my motivation.
While my spirits were low, I persevered and pushed through to complete Spellbound. I was sure readers wanted that follow up book to the conclusion of Perla and Matt's story. I waited for Amazon to send me an email to communicate with my Followers about Spellbound, and I never received one. I waited. And nothing. No email to Followers from Amazon. No email to me to send Followers a note. And yes, I've written many times to Author Central and KDP about this issue, but I only received canned responses that were cut and pasted from their FAQ. Even during phone calls with live people, I was given the run around and told that another department with more knowledge would communicate with me, but never a phone call--just a form email that never resolved the problem. As a result, Spellbound didn't reach the readers of The Pentagon Group. The book was supposed to be finality for me and the series, but I don't feel closure.
The closure I do feel is finality about my writing as Rosemary Rey. I've come to the conclusion that I can't afford to devote the financial resources for covers, formatting, and the most expensive--editing, when I'm not recouping even half of my money. In essence, I'm not going to be writing as much as I did, if at all. If I do release anything in the future, it will be short stories and novellas because I will reduce the expenses of self publication. Hopefully, I won't lose the quality.
Okay, so you're probably thinking that I went into writing with the wrong expectation and emotion, that I should write for the sake of writing and the craft. Well, that rings true to a degree, but to share that writing with the world costs me money, so why shouldn't I recoup that money?
While I'm blessed to be a stay at home mom who transitioned into work from home mom as a wriiter, I wasn't getting a return of investment to justify to my family the hours and money spent writing and promoting. I'm not a starving artist or a failed artist, just a failed business woman.
I do have some short stories that I have in mind to write. When my broken heart has caught up to my mind and realizes that I'm doing the right thing by stepping back from the hustle of Indie publishing within Romance.
I didn't say I was quitting writing. I have other genre interests. One of them being Mysteries and Thrillers. When I select a book, I usually go for a psychological thriller and mystery. I'll listen to the audio on my Kindle Fire. I've come up with a few stories and have written them down, so when I get back to the head-space of writing, I can dive into one. But Romance is a genre that is the most selling, which means most competitive. I couldn't navigate the road to Romance without coming across a lot of dark routes. I've learned to be okay with my limitations. I'm not a great marketer or promoter of myself. But I will continue to read Romance, write some shorter stories to satisfy my creative side, and hopefully, I can find some success in another genre.
Wish me luck.