So what have you been doing recently, Alex?

Not much, is the answer. I have 11 chapters of Murder of a Working Ghost written, and it is still on track to be out in time for Halloween, but I find myself going through a bit of a crisis.

I’m self aware enough to know that I always go through a crisis when the children are at home for the summer holidays. That hasn’t changed now that they’re home from uni instead of from school. My ability to plan my own day goes out of the window, and with it my ability to section off enough undisturbed time to get into the writing mindset also plummets.

But this year feels worse, because it’s not just the summer. This year, it’s been all year. When I finished re-publishing all my Samhain books and then all my Riptide books, I found myself without a publisher for the first time since 2007, and it hit me hard.

Before I first got published, I thought that being published would be the best thing in the world, and that I’d be famous; I’d be giving interviews to magazines, and my books would have a cult following and it would be everything a person could ever ask for.

Then I got published, and it was awesome, and I was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine and my books were in bookshops and for a moment I was on the top of that hill. And then I started to come back down again. I still had to keep writing. I still wasn’t making any money. Problems with publishers kept cropping up to the point where I stopped looking for new ones and only concentrated on the two I really trusted. I figured out exactly what brand of queer I was, and that was great, but it threw a wrench into my desire to write m/m romance.

Then the two publishers I trusted did some stuff, and I found myself facing a steep learning curve in an attempt to make it as a self-pubbed author. I did many courses. I read a lot of stuff about Amazon’s algorythms and SEO and sprucing up your covers and your book pages and how to write cover copy, and how to ad-stack and the mysteries of Facebook and Amazon ads. I put a lot of it into practice.

And I still wasn’t making any money. After over ten years writing, with 26 books out, I am making a little less money every year than I was when I only had one.

This is starkly discouraging.

The thing that I used to do for pleasure – writing – has become a job for me, so I now approach it as a kind of drudgery. I don’t have anything left to look forward to – I’ve been published. I’ve been in bookshops and magazines. I’ve hoped that when I had a decent back catalog I might start to earn a living wage, but now I have one, and I haven’t. Ten years as a writer has just left me disillusioned and not honestly wanting to write any more.

But I have no idea what I could do instead. I have chronic ill health and depression which means that I tend to let down anyone who is expecting me to turn up for things on a regular basis. Writing is one of the few things I can do and take days off whenever I need them.

On a non-practical level, I used to love writing. I used to be really excited about the worlds in my head, and I would love to have that back.

I don’t know how to get it back, but carrying on the way I’m going isn’t working. I will be finishing Murder of a Working Ghost, because I have people waiting for it. But after that, I’ll be having a long deep thought about where I go next.

Any suggestions for how to recover the joy of writing? I’ll try anything, even yoga.

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Dusk Peterson
5 years ago

All I can offer is my empathy and the cold comfort that lots of writers are going through this at the moment. The last few years have been tough for authors.

A rec: Kristine Kathryn Rusch (former editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) has the best business blog for authors that I know of. Her tone can occasionally be a bit “I know best, and my critics are idiots,” but she offers a lot of good advice on being an indie author, including comfort in hard times.

She’s approaching this from the viewpoint of someone who’s been a businessperson for most of her life. Go to the Business Resources section of her website for a ton of useful material.

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