Indie Author Life,  Writing Journey

Let’s Talk

No big deal, but let’s talk, hmm? ^_^

So, I’ve debated on whether I should talk about this and how much to say, but this blog is, in part, a chronicle of my writing journey, and I want to be able to talk openly about writing-related things and not tip-toe around stuff or pretend like everything is okay.

Long story short, I’m not self-publishing anymore. In a nutshell, it’s a stress issue. I never intended for writing to become an expensive hobby that I get little joy out of, but it happened. I underestimated the toll being responsible for everything would take on me. And I also thought I would enjoy having control over everything, and I absolutely do not. Instead of feeling excited and empowered, I feel burdened and overwhelmed and exhausted, and I’ve been feeling this way since March 2017, when preorders for the first book went live. I thought I would get used to it, but even small projects were burning me out, and I felt like there was this cumulative effect that was getting progressively worse.

I figured I had five options: I could leave everything the same and continue to be super stressed, I could take everything down and send all those books to the graveyard, I could rebrand everything and keep trying, I could go back to querying agents and/or publishers, or I could give up entirely and do something else with my life.

I’ve gone back and forth about unpublishing everything. It’s hard to explain, but if I’m not self-publishing anything anymore, then I simply don’t want my self-published books out there anymore either. As long as they’re “out there” I’m going to want to help them be seen. It’s maintenance. It’s stress. It’s a giant placard reading FAILURE that follows me everywhere I go. There’s a lot of things I can say, but it boils down to the simple fact that I’m constantly obsessing about everything I did wrong, and I want to move on, but I don’t feel like I can if the books are still published.

As it stands, all the books are unpublished with no plans to put them back up. I’m not sure anyone has noticed the menu change on the site, but I took all the book pages down in February. I don’t hate any of my books. I don’t think they’re terrible. I just simply can’t deal with any of this right now. Things are too jumbled in my head. I need a break from all of it, so I can figure out what my actual problem is.

But when it comes to publishing, I don’t know what I’m doing. I did the best I could, but I’m awful at nearly everything, and I know it. This was supposed to be fun. But it left me stressed and worn, and I just ended up feeling like nothing I do is good enough. No amount of time to work on something is enough. No amount of hard work matters, and my best simply isn’t good enough.

I feel like a storyteller without an audience is a very sad thing, and I know I’m not going to be happy with myself later if I give up completely. But there’s no energy for this anymore.

I feel like NO REST FOR THE WICKED is fine, but there’s nothing special about it. I keep wanting to rewrite WHISPER, but I can’t figure out how to actually make it better, so I’m left feeling like I wrecked it somehow, and I don’t know how to fix it or if I even could fix it or if it even needs fixing. And HOUSE OF FALLING EMBERS is a mass of confusion with me going back and forth between loving what I did or being angry at myself for not writing it the way I originally pictured it, and I can’t stop being angry at myself for not giving that original plot more time to fix itself, which is something I would have done if I wasn’t self-publishing and worrying about not being able to keep up with the self-imposed schedule.

I wanted to be successful, and to do that, I felt like I had to put out multiple books a year, because that’s what I saw successful indie authors doing. And while I’m capable of doing that, in theory, I can’t actually swing it in real life, and there’s a lot of regret over pushing myself so hard. Maybe I didn’t actually mess any of those stories up, but I have no way of seeing things clearly right now.

I have no issues with WINTER’S SIREN, but it feels like there’s no market for it. Where do you put something that doesn’t belong in YA and doesn’t quite belong in Adult either? And it doesn’t quite fit in fantasy, and it doesn’t quite fit in horror. I can’t do anything with it. I feel like my life would be so much easier if I had a clear category to put my books in, but I don’t feel like I do.

There isn’t much to say about the poetry book, but every time I look at it, I’m mad at myself for letting the cover designer talk me out of what I wanted. Yes, it’s beautiful, but I’m a damn fantasy writer, and this doesn’t fit with the majority of poetry books out there, so if I’m going to go against the grain, I need to go all the way, because halfway just makes a mess.

It seems like no matter what I do, I can’t find my place anywhere. I don’t belong anywhere. And I honestly wish I would stop trying.

So, I don’t really know what I’m going to do going forward, but that’s a discussion I’ll have with myself if I ever finish anything again. I just wanted to talk about it. There’s obviously a lot more going on, but this is the gist of it, in case anyone noticed that my books were missing and wanted to know why.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to take my mom’s advice to take some time off from trying to accomplish anything, because just trying to keep up with the dishes has been too much. I want to write, but I don’t see how I can. I don’t see how I can keep writing books that I know no one is going to read, because they’re too weird for traditional publishing, and self-publishing isn’t something I enjoy, and it certainly isn’t something I’m good at. I want my books to be read. I don’t want to just keep everything to myself.

At a bare minimum, in order to stay on this path, I would need to re-cover everything. For example, WHISPER, in my opinion, is supernatural horror. But maybe it’s dark fantasy. Or paranormal. I have no idea. Which is part of the problem, but not all of it. I didn’t correct my cover designer, or anyone else, when they thought I wrote paranormal romance (for this book and others), because I thought it was obvious from the blurb that it wasn’t romance. I was wrong, and I blame myself for all of it, but I never, at any point in the process, told anyone I worked with, on any book, that I wrote any kind of romance. They assumed, and I should have corrected them.

That’s very basic marketing, and I didn’t even know how wrong my covers were for whatever genre I’m in until recently, when I finally found some books close to what I write. However, there’s nothing I can fix on the basic end that would solve the problem of self-publishing being so stressful for me in the first place.

I know I could have left the books published as-is regardless, and taking them down only makes me feel more like a failure, but l’m trying to recover from the severe burn out I suffered, and I feel like this is the best option. It’ll force me to think twice before trying to publish anything again, though I kind of feel like I’m back on square zero, and that sucks. But I don’t want to be a miserable writer, and I don’t know what else to do.

Hopefully, I actually posted this. If you’re reading this, then Hi. How’s life? Tell me something good. 🙂

10 Comments

  • Michelle Athy

    I think I kind of get where you’re coming from here, Krystal. I’ve actually waffled with taking Pearl down. The story just…has a lot of issues and I don’t think it’s particularly good. But I haven’t taken it down off of anything because I’m busy. I mean, you know I’m a slow ass writer (I just…I don’t have time beyond a very lazy fanfic right now, what with grad school and pandemics and the world being a dumpster fire) and while I really want to work on the FrankenIdea, sometimes I think I’m just not a very good fiction writer.

    I so admire you for writing all those books and for writing this blog post and putting it out there! I loved Winter’s Siren especially. But self-publishing is a LOT and not everyone’s equipped to deal with it all. It is stressful–and I only self-published little things because I can’t get myself together enough to actually finish a full-length novel-size piece of work.

    • Krystal Jane

      I think it would help if people who love self-publishing so much could realize that personality is a factor on whether this is a good idea or not. It’s not just statistics or whatever. I have an easily stressed kind of disposition, and I’m the kind of person who just needs help with all this. I really liked Pearl, but I understand what you mean. We need to think our work is good first and foremost. I think about writing an anthology of connected short stories from time to time, but short stories feel more intimidating than a novel for some reason. I’m not very good at brevity. Lol!

  • A.S. Akkalon

    Hi! I’m reading this.

    It sounds like things are really rough for you right now. If you’re having trouble with things as simple as doing the dishes, it sounds like you need to take some time away from writing and publishing, and take care of yourself. You’re not failing. You’re prioritising. Your mental health is a priority, and it sounds like the stress of self-publishing hasn’t been good for it. That doesn’t mean you can’t come back. Writing and publishing, either self-publishing or trade, will always be here if/when you decide to come back. You have accomplished so much, finishing all your books and publishing them. Take some time. Get better, and when you’re feeling yourself again, then have a think about where (if anywhere) you want to go with your writing.

    I stepped away from everything writing for two years because it was what I needed to do, but now I’m back. I’m glad I went, and I’m glad I came back.

    Hugs.

    • Krystal Jane

      Hi! 🙂

      I haven’t taken a real break from writing in several years now, probably six or seven years. I used to take breaks every so often, even if it was just a couple of months. I would make myself rest after editing to give myself time to enjoy finishing something and to rest up and brainstorm the next project, and it was always, always worth it. Sometimes I get afraid that I’ll never write again if I take a break, but even that thought is proof enough that it’s not something I should ever worry about. I’ve forgotten that I used to force breaks on myself. Even brief reading breaks, like for a few days or a week or something, especially after a period of heavy reading.

      Thanks for saying all this.

  • Kristy A.

    I want you to know, because I feel like you need to know, that I understand where you’re coming from as well. I write romance and have had so many people suggest self-publishing because “romance does so well” and I looked into it, but I can tell it’s not for me. It’s really not for everyone, and it’s so good that you’re being honest about it. I wish more people would. I’m a one book a year kind of writer, if I’m lucky, and it seems like most of the independent authors who are doing well don’t take many breaks. I need a hiatus from writing every now and then, and it sounds like you do as well. Even one month of an actual break can help so much. We can’t thrive creatively if we’re stressed all the time and beating ourselves up and constantly burning that midnight oil.

    I heard this analogy one time that if you eat enough of something it starts to taste like soap. Writing too much, getting too much of a good thing, can make writing feel like rubbing a cactus on your face. By the way, I would do your dishes for you if I could. I find washing dishes kind of meditative. 🙂

    Sending you hugs and support and a virtual unicorn to sprinkle glitter on you. It’ll force you to take a break and clean it up. 🧡

    • Krystal Jane

      You’re more than welcome to come over and do the dishes. 🙂

      I love that cactus quote! I’m hijacking it for my quote collection. Haha. I think Dave Ramsey says something similar about eating too much lobster. It’s true though. There needs to be a publishing pros and cons list that covers personality factors. Like “do you REALLY want to have control over EVERYTHING?” I don’t even understand everything. I told myself to take at least two weeks and give myself nothing to do but work on some OCD issues and read, but I’m willing to take several months if I have to. It’s kind of a relief to have everything off my shoulders and have all the pressure off. I haven’t taken pressure off myself in a long time. I feel almost giddy.

  • Thea Landen

    <3 I wish I had more to offer than gentle hugs. I feel like I've been doing this (whatever "this" means) for a long time, and I still barely have any idea what I'm doing. Like you, I do mostly consider this a hobby, something I'm willing to spend some, but not a ton of money on. But at the same time, even if it's "just a hobby," I'd also like some outside acknowledgement of all the hard work I've done? I dunno.

    I've also debated going back to my early stuff and pulling it, but that means actually initiating contact with the publisher and terminating the contract (which I'm allowed to do for most of them, as it's been long enough by this point), and that feels like it would be a whole lot of work? And even if I repackaged and remarketed some of them, would the end result be any better? Again, I have no idea.

    The best I can offer (besides the hugs and heart emoji) is that for all the years I've been doing this, there are a lot — A LOT — of writers who seemed SO successful to me (or at least more successful than I was/am), and they don't do this anymore. Because it's tough and not fun a lot of the time. Some of them still maintain a web presence, while others have basically disappeared. You and I have been blogging/writing buddies for many years at this point, and with our sites, we have evidence that we actually accomplished a lot of cool things, even if they didn't always work out exactly as we wanted or planned. Trust me, I know some days that doesn't feel like much, but other days, I try to remember that that makes us so far ahead of so many other people and it should be something to feel proud of.

    • Krystal Jane

      Hugs are perfect. ^_^

      I’ve seen a lot of people fall off the writing sphere, as well. I wish there were still around. But I agree. There is something to be said for keeping the site alive after all this time. And I still love blogging, so that’s good! I’ve had times where I wanted to burn the entire site down, but just a few times. Lol! I feel like there has to be a cap on how much I’m willing to spend when it comes to writing. I do have other financial goals. All my money can’t go to one thing. I feel like it’s hard to get people to understand that. And writing takes up a lot of time and it’s so much work. I need to feel like it’s all worth it. Blogging has definitely been worth it.

  • Jodi Perkins (@Perkjo)

    Wow! I’m blown away. I’m just so…shocked. I love your books. You’re the reason I can read darker tales now, and why I feel so inspired to write one in the future. I’m not saying this to talk you out of this decision you’ve made–I just think you should know that from the perspective of someone who’s outside of your head, you’re a talented writer, and your books have always had the most pretty/polished look which made them indecipherable from traditional publishing. Otherwise, I understand where you’re coming from to a degree I wish I didn’t. People have a tendency to keep trudging down a path that makes them miserable because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, and I often feel like I’m one of them. Look at how many “breaks” I’ve taken from writing…how many times I’ve scrapped my own sequel then decided to write it again. I’m always thinking how much happier my life would be if I wasn’t a writer. I’m jealous of my twin sister who doesn’t write. I love imagining a life where I could come home from work and binge watch reality TV shows and not feel a shred of guilt over it because “I should be writing.” I hate this self-imposed burden. And I hate-hate-hate marketing. So yeah, I think you’ve made an insightfully coherent decision for yourself, one that I could see myself making in the future. I don’t think I will ever pull my books off of Amazon, but I can see myself getting to the point where I stop writing and let the books collect dust. As it is, I rarely tell people I meet that I’m an author, and I’ve noticed that it feels good to not have that label hovering over me (along with all the expectations that come with it).

    I’m just happy I have your book collection on MY shelf before you made this decision!

    Why does this whole thing make me want to cry?

    Sorry, I’m really not helpful right now. *Hugs or something* Krystal!

    • Krystal Jane

      I hope so much that you don’t stop writing! But of course, I would understand if you did. Though it is good to hear that you enjoy darker reads now. 🙂 I always wanted to feel like I was getting somewhere with all this work I was doing, that it was going somewhere, and I felt like I was either going in circles or running in place, and sometimes writing feels like a wheel I can’t get off of, but I don’t want off at the same time? I wish I had a day job that I loved so I would have something else besides writing, because I completely understand that urge to come home and just loaf, after hours of work, because we’ve worked a lot already, and we’re tired. And sometimes I feel like I’ll never not be tired. But maybe we just need built-in days where we let ourselves loaf guilt-free. I don’t know. I’ve been writing for so long, I don’t know who I am without it.

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