My bad news confession: buried in here somewhere

There was a Konrath post in my inbox this morning. This always makes me happy as it’s a pretty sure bet my morning will be infused with some level of awesome.

So today I got to read the annual Resolutions for Writers post. I’m not going to go over it because there’s a whole lot there and you should just go read it. But I’m going to clip the little bit that really gave me a lift this morning:

DO NOT take any deal that’s less than what you believe you could earn in six years. If you’re selling 1000 ebooks a month, that means $144,000 is the minimum advance you should be offered before you consider signing.

In a way, that might seem a bit irrelevant to me. I’m not in the position of being courted by a NY publisher, and don’t believe I’m in any danger of catching their attention at this time. But it’s the other part, the 1000 ebooks a month part. This harkens back to his recent post on ebook sales in which he implied 1000 ebooks a month was a good measure of a successful, up-and-coming indie.

And I’m doing that. I’ve passed 1K for this month, I more than doubled it last month, and I almost reached it the previous month. And this is my fifth month out.

I needed this today. I needed to feel like I’m good at this, and I needed to read that from someone I respect, and know that it’s not about friendship and petting me to make me feel better. And it’s so not because Mr. Konrath hasn’t even noticed me…yet.

I’ve been putting off telling you all that things continue to not go well. And it’s not so much with the book, but with me, personally. With me, personally, there are Serious Things that are making it hard for me to put my head and my heart into the work and give it what it needs.

As kind as everyone has been to me these last months, I’ve felt an awful lot of expectation. Not only to put out a book that’s on at least the same level with the first one, which I intend to do, but also to present myself as a professional. And I’ve worried that having to tell you that I’m going to miss my own projected release date is going to disappoint you and make you see me as less than professional for letting my life get in the way of my work.

But, you know, it just is what it is, and fretting about what people are going to think of me isn’t doing me any favors. And in his post today, Konrath says this:

I Will Stop Worrying. Worrying, along with envy, blame, guilt, and regret, is a useless emotion. It’s also bad storytelling. Protagonists should be proactive, not reactive. They should forge ahead, not dwell on things beyond their control. Fretting, whining, complaining, and bemoaning the state of the industry isn’t the way to get ahead.
You are the hero in the story of your life. Act like it.

Oh snap, I been told!

And you know what else?

But most of all, being a professional means you won’t inflict your shitty writing on the public.

Um, yeah. That I’m not going to do. And no amount of stressing myself about a release date, or worrying about angering the people who are awaiting the next book, or disappointing fellow indies with my inability to write on a schedule… It’s not going to help. Contrariwise.

And a huge irony here is that part of the reason I’ve embraced self-publishing over trying to go the traditional route is because I was concerned about my inability to write to an imposed schedule at this time in my life, with the things I’ve got going on.

And then I did it to myself. Which really shouldn’t surprise me or the people who know me well. I am my own worst enemy. (WP tells me, after that line, Word count: 666. The Universe is talking to me about my beastly qualities.)

So…this sort of segues awkwardly into last night’s radio show, which I also have to mention today, and on which I had to publicly acknowledge that the next book would probably not be out in January. No, not probably. It just won’t. OMFG, just admit it already. (This has to be harder for me than it is for you.)

A few quick lines about the show, while we’re here. I was really terrified to do it, and it was not so bad. I don’t have plans to listen to it, but I don’t think I performed so badly that I would actually have made anyone put me on their do not buy list. But I don’t think I did myself any favors or inspired anyone in the other direction either. I think it was probably a wash.

As you all know, being concise is not my strong suit. The ability to craft answers that really deliver all the relevant information, or might really direct or inspire someone toward my goal (read the book!) on the fly and at the pace of a short interview–this involves a skillset that I just don’t have and I knew that going into it. I’m a writer. If I’m going to talk about DRM, I’m going to want to set up that discussion making sure the people I’m talking to understand what we’re talking about before I get into my opinion. If I’m going to talk about marketing, it helps me to talk about that from a core goal/idea (visibility and credibility, for me) and then talk about the range of controllable factors and how they all affect each other and tie into that goal. That’s what I see of value in my understanding, and just trying to throw out some things that are important–that’s just the same information we hear over and over. In a brief interview, where the there’s a smattering of topics and no time to develop those thoughts, I don’t have the skill to express what I’d like to express.

I want to thank Andrew Mocete, though, for giving me the opportunity and making it as painless as possible. I try to challenge myself on some of my phobias, but still, there aren’t a whole lot of people who would have gotten a yes from me on a request for a live interview. Promo, schmomo. One thing that’s special about Andrew is that he’s one of those people who seems to have internalized, in a very genuine way, that notion of giving to others and trusting that’s going to come back to around somehow, someday. What Kristen Lamb (among others) refers to as having the heart of a servant. I could trust that Andrew wasn’t just out to fill a slot in his calendar, that he is genuinely concerned with my interests as well as his, and that he would do his best to help me.

There’s part of this post I’ve been putting off and fretting about writing for weeks now. I started out talking about Konrath’s measure of success and ended with someΒ  bromance tale about Andrew. Buried in there somewhere is the confession I didn’t want to talk about. You see what I’m saying? You just can’t do that shit live. That’s what I love about writing.

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32 Comments

Filed under Heroes 'Til Curfew, Talent Chronicles

32 responses to “My bad news confession: buried in here somewhere

  1. Zoe

    On the release date, I wouldn’t stress it. If you put out the book when you feel it’s really ready, it will be stronger for your efforts. Indies don’t need to worry so much about release dates anyway. When people ask me when my next title will be out, my stock response is “Soon, when it’s ready.”

    And don’t worry about if people respect you. You’ve got Talent, pun intended, and people will see that when you release a polished book that you’re happy with.

  2. Susan, no matter how much we want to read your next book, you have to write it on your own schedule. You have to be happy with it and feel it’s ready. You aren’t the type of writer to just throw down a bunch of crap and put it out there. Please stop worrying about it. It will be out when it’s out. You’re a professional and well respected by many. We love you. :0)

  3. But I wanted to read it now! 😦 Ok, tantrum over. πŸ™‚

    Seriously, publish it on your own terms so that you are happy with it and your readers will respect you for giving them the best story you can give them. Some books that are just rushed out to meet a deadline can fall flat and then you loose more readers than if they had just waited. I as a reader would rather wait longer to read a book that is well-crafted instead of one that didn’t pull together. Because then I would wonder if the next book is going to be the same way and do I really want to read it?

    I love your stories so you need to love them enough to give them the time they need.

    • LOL, Anya, that’s it? That’s all the tantrum you got? What was I so scared of? I do love these kids and this world, and I really want to work on getting my head back to a place where I can really give them what they deserve.

  4. Susan, you’re doing the right thing by not trying to rush HTC and put out a product you’re not 100% proud of. (Yeah, I totally ended that sentence with a preposition because some things, like releasing HTC by a certain self-imposed deadline, just aren’t worth worrying about. HA. AGAIN. See?)

    Everyone here, and everyone who read HM, wants only the best for your characters, their story, and you. And if that means taking a little (or even a lot) more time to write HTC the way you want it, so be it. We’ll always be here, ready and supportive, cheering you on.

  5. Glad you got your worries off your chest. πŸ™‚ It’s liberating, isn’t it? Just so you know, even NY publishers push back release dates at times.

  6. I completely understand about being your own worst enemy. I set myself deadlines (and miss them) all the time. But I do this because I know *I* work better with a deadline. The deadline is there to give me a goal to work toward, not to have something to beat myself up about.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if you were the same way. So remind yourself of the reason for the deadline – to keep as much focus as you can on your writing, take it seriously, treat it professionally – but don’t let it hold you back. Worrying can be an energy suck, save it for your writing. πŸ™‚ We’d rather wait for the best sequel you can deliver.

    • I usually avoid saying anything definite about anything as much as I can, because I often freak out over things like deadlines, schedules, and commitments. And I’m a big one for beating myself with anything that’s handy.

  7. Peter

    I’d rather wait for something to get throughly finished than to get an inferior product more quickly. Great post!

  8. Susan,

    One of the reasons I’m so comfortable in hanging out with so many writers is because I see so many common traits between computer geeks and writers. Trying to complete a creative project on a ‘deadline’ is one of those commonalities. Schedules slip. There are bugs in the software you didn’t see and that your beta testers missed. Or was it that there are plot holes you didn’t see and that your beta readers missed? πŸ™‚

    Good communication with your clients ensure your professional reputation even when there are bumps along the way. So climb up to the rooftop and shout at the top of your lungs that you’re going to be late and it is because you care more about delivering a quality read to your growing number of fans than an arbitrary deadline!

    -TG
    @techsurgeons

  9. As you said in last night’s interview, rule number one is put out a good book. If that means it has to go off schedule, so be it. These things can happen when you’re running a one man show.

    After the radio show I went to talk to my wife about it and since I’m always telling her how awesome you are, she was excited. It went something like this:
    “Susan did a great job, but I wasn’t very happy with how I sounded.” No bullshit.
    Despite how all over the place it was, I felt you came off better that you think.

    If anything I fell short as an interviewer because it’s a new show and I’m new at this. But like I said, way better than a wash.

    When I have you back on to promote HTC, you’ll want to listen to the playback. Promise.

  10. Aww, don’t fret Susan – I want to read the next book now (!!!) but I can also wait [g]
    You’re right, rule number one is you have to put out a good book. I should remember that every time I feel like I’m running out of time to edit my novel – no one’s putting on the time pressure on myself except me.

  11. Michelle

    From a reader who is seriously jonesing to read HTC, I just gotta say… big whoop! So you miss the release date…big deal. Doesn’t make me want to read it any less. Release dates change all the time, even in traditional publishing, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Release the book when you feel it (and you) are ready, your readers will still be there. No worries, be happy πŸ™‚

  12. Fans will wait. Better to wait and let them enjoy the best book you can give them. You know this. It’s all good.

    Just listened to the radio show, it went well – you even got a caller. πŸ˜€

    • Thanks, Claire. I ended up listening to it too, mainly because my husband gave me a look when I said I was scared to.

      Yeah, the poor caller. I don’t think I was really helpful. I wanted to sit down and say ok, where are you now, what have you done, try this this and this. And I knew we didn’t have time for that. I hope he followed the link I left in the text interview.

  13. You’re too hard on yourself, lady! Going at your own pace helps you write the book you want to write. I know, we all want to scare ourselves into hyper-writing mode with self-imposed deadlines, but whatevs, the whole thing’s not going to hell if it takes you a few months longer. Buck up, cowgirl. πŸ™‚

  14. So how can one actually listen to this now famous radio show? :0)

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