I don’t know what I thought would happen when my first book with Ellora’s Cave came out. I don’t remember having any expectations. All I remember feeling was violent happiness. I got to share my story with the world! I most certainly didn’t expect for loved ones to start dying on me or how devastating an effect it would have on my personal and professional life, and how much the publishing industry in general and the erotic romance market in particular would change while I sorted out my soul and wrote another story for EC.
I know I had visions of one day writing full-time, visions the ever-changing, ever-expanding publishing scene blurred quite effectively as I tried to get back in the game. Don’t quit the day job, then. (And if you call it an evil day job, and mean it, please consider looking for something you don’t hate with a fire just in case you’re stuck with it.) My work has always involved language, text and words in one form or another. It’s always allowed me to do what I love, which is write, so it’s never been tedious. (OK, maybe sometimes, when I would have rather let my more creative side loose.)
Then again, you’ll never know if you don’t go. All-in, balls out. It’s just that…for every selling author, there are a thousand and one, ten thousand and one, who hardly sell at all. (Their stories may be just as good, even better than the popular ones. And still.) For every poorly selling author, there are one hundred thousand and one who never get a publisher. Or should I say got. With the self-publishing option available to anyone who can follow instructions, everyone can be a published author. (Their stories may, note: may be so much poorer than yours. And still they’re out there.)
If you dream of writing erotic romance for publication, and above all for a living, be advised: You are coming in to a market where the reader is spoilt for choice. Publishers, self-publishing sites and subgenres galore; established authors, newbie authors, self-published authors galore. Cyberspace is infinite so there really is room for everyone’s story. That’s not the problem. There’s also plenty of room to get lost, feel lonely, never be seen or heard, and that may pose a problem.
Then again, if you’re writing because you love to and it’s all the same to you how your book does as long as it’s out there, then, well, it’s all the same to you, isn’t it? But if you expect to see a big return on time and effort invested, please remember: the number of titles published is on the way up, sales on the way down, and pirates bear no resemblance to a cuddly Captain Sparrow, they are as ruthless and heartless as Davy Jones. Many published authors make fun money at best. Most of us writing ebooks have been pirated. All of us write because we love it and who succeeds and to what extent is a bit like playing darts in the dark. You never know what will stick and who you’ll hit.
Lack of large backlist notwithstanding, I’ve spent several years in the know, my eyes and ears open. So. This much I know. If you’re about to submit your first story or if it’s already been contracted and you have visions of fortune and fame, two words: survivorship bias. Look it up. Just so you’re prepared. Anything can happen. Nothing much might.
My debut came out the same day as Laurann Dohner’s. She is now a NY Times and USA Today best-selling author. Some other EC authors who were starting out around that time… They’re gone. I’m not sure where and I’m not sure why and I guess their reasons are none of my business, but there’s one in particular I was damn sorry to see disappear because of how good she was. An excellent author all-around.
I don’t want to discourage you. I want you to be prepared. If you are, none of what I just said came as a surprise. If you’re not sure, two posts you may want to look at to assess where you stand, what the odds are and how to improve them: agent Rachelle Gardner on volume and variety. And if you’re on the self-publishing path, agent-turned-author Nathan Bransford is recording his experience and dispensing wisdom on his mighty fine blog.
This is my last post with the 69ers. I want to thank everyone who’s stopped by, read and commented on the ramblings of this southern girl from the north, and I want to thank my partners in smut for the fun we’ve had and shared and wish you every success. I’ll be rooting for you! This ain’t an easy business but if you got it in you, it’s worth your best shot.
I think I have something in my eye. Or maybe I’m just allergic to goodbyes. This…you…all of it, will always be a dream come true. Hang on to yours, dearest 69ers.
Hoping for a smutty reunion, with love and smooches,