In May of 2022, I hit my twelfth year of self-publishing as a romance author.
I say hit instead of celebrated because I have a bad habit of not celebrating my milestones. Every year I say I'm going to get better at it, but I never do, so I'll skip that bit where I pretend to confront and acknowledge that flaw and move on to the thing I actually do when I reach milestones-- journaling. Journaling is how I mark time in my career. It allows me to take the time to look at where I am now, where I started and measure that against the plans I have for the future.
I won't bore you with the details of that pages long brain dump, but one of the things that came up for me was a void I created when I quit my freelance writing and editing gigs.
I am absolutely not reopening my editing books. I don't miss filling my schedule with work that requires me to give my creative energy to others — no matter how fun or fulfilling that can be. However, I do miss examining stories and reading closely, as well as talking about why those choices were made for the narrative and how those choices relate to the current market, and how an author runs their business.
To that end, I've decided to revive my writing blog! Why?
Basically, I want to have more conversations about books and book business.
I just feel like a lot of stuff is being left out of the conversation. Some of these conversations are happening behind paywalls or in group chats offline, but I don't see or understand the point in gatekeeping them. There's enough food out there for everyone to eat, meaning readers can read more than one book, and everyone should have an opportunity to use the tips and tricks available to them!
The urgency to have these conversations is inspired by the fact that traditional publishing is experiencing some major upheaval.
I'm not willing to say this is the worst it's ever been, but things are looking pretty fucking grim. I definitely don't think it's a precursor to change because while the sneaky, scammy underbelly of publishing has been exposed strangely, it hasn't had the effect that I expected. More people than ever are diving into the submission process and… I don't know… I see new writers who began with a bright and excited outlook becoming bitter cynics in real-time. Even debut authors seem to immediately sink into their doldrums when their pub day doesn't result in the immediate results they feel they deserve.
And honestly, it's kinda… sad?
This might be a me thing (I don't think it is), but I find the tendency that writers have to get into their woes about writing and the business of writing counterproductive to the creative process. It only takes one demotivating tweet from a large account to sink the timeline. Like Taraji P. Henson said in a recent interview, "If you hang around with a dark cloud, the rain gon' get you eventually," and I honestly believe that.
I know that on its face, that might sound like toxic positivity, but I feel like negativity has become a more dominant mood in the writing and reading community. Many readers are just reading to find a reason to criticize books and spend very little time talking about the books they love. Folks are catapulting their careers based on threads of angry hate tweets, and is that what we really want? Is that productive?
I don't think so.
I don't know how many of youse remember this, but Twitter and social media, in general, used to be a fun place to talk about books. I vividly remember long threads where I talked about books with other readers and authors. Folks were able to freely express what they loved about the book, what they disliked and wished was handled better, and what things they would like to see from the author next.
And there was also 3rd shift twitter, where the conversation became more… adult and equally fun. But I digress.
My point is that a low-simmering rage and general discontent have seemed to capture the book and writing community, and it doesn't seem like the mood will lift or shift anytime soon.
What's the cause of it?
Well, there are a lot of factors at the root of this general discontent, but I think a lot of it stems from the fact that most authors don't really feel in control of their careers, and readers feel like they're not getting the stories they really want to read. When I watch conversations as they develop on the timeline, I see confusion, anger, bitterness, and, surprisingly, resistance to letting go of the fairytale traditional publishing promised.
Anyway, I want to do my part in sharing what I know and finding joy in the process again! And let me be absolutely clear, I'm just sharing what I know and inviting people on to discuss the things that I'm learning. By no means does that make me an expert! The market is forever changing, and I consider myself a lifetime learner. Having that said, I don't know everything, but I'm not afraid to ask the right questions to learn the things I don't know.
Here are the topics I plan to focus on:
1. Writing craft
I know there are hundreds of blogs and podcasts out there about the craft of writing, but it's literally the breadth of my knowledge, so it's unrealistic to say I won't touch on that topic from time to time. But I want youse to remember that I don't believe in writing rules outside of very basic grammar stuff. All other writing advice is just that — advice. You can choose to take it or not.
I'm not going to review fiction here. Those days are long gone. I will mostly focus on reviewing self-help, business books, writing reference materials, and probably software, tools, and apps. You know, stuff that folks can use to make the business of authoring easier.
3. Ways to make money with your words.
Authoring is not the only way to make money with your writing. I believe in having multiple streams of income, and as writers, those streams should align with your greatest skill — writing. I would like to share ways to lean into those strengths, and the types of side hustles you can look for to supplement your book sales!
4. Genre-specific tips and tricks.
I'm a romance author — a Black romance author — so there will be info about that and some Black romance recommendations.
5. Mindset, habits, rituals, and routines.
A lot of things have helped me become a more productive writer in the last two years. But nothing more than adopting a more positive mindset around my process, habit stacking, and creating routines that make it happen for me every day. I want to share those tips with you as well.
I've created a writing group since the last time this blog was active, but I also want to demonstrate how that can be done with lively conversations, networking, and collaborations with fellow authors in the broader writing community.
7. Crystals, plants, rootwork, and tarot.
And every other thing I want to nerd out about because I wouldn't be me if I didn't fixate on something or other and talk about it endlessly!
Looking back at this list, it seems like a lot of random topics. But honestly, it feels like a combination of the conversations I'm having in multiple circles off the timeline with friends and fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners that have become my business besties.
Posts will be biweekly on the first and third Tuesday of every month. I hope you check in!