So, it's currently Monday morning, 30th of December, the year is almost over and what a year it was. Every year I choose a word to focus on and for 2019, that was ‘courage', with the idea behind it to be brave and try new things and do things that maybe scare me a little, or a lot. And I did a lot of things that scared me, and excited me, this year.
I've just finished listening to the first day of the 2020 planning videos from What Authors Need to Know and Elizabeth talked about looking back at your whole writing career to see all the cool things we've accomplished over time and while I'm not going to go into detail about all of that, because it's really not that interesting and this post will probably be long enough anyway (I may do a full breakdown at some point, but not now, this is not the post for that), I do want to look back at the last year because so many things have happened that have gotten me here today.
The year started with a huge change in how I run things. Back in Feb, I posted about ‘New Year, New Style' and explained how I was going to integrate all my pen names into a single location. How I'd still be writing for different pen names but I was no longer going to split everything into different social media and different websites and everything, but combine it all because I hoped it would be better for my mental health. And it was. Running just one FB page, one FB group, one Twitter account, one newsletter, one website/blog, it has definitely made things easier and has made everything less stressful to deal with. It's not perfect, and I've had to redo my website a couple of times since then, it has made things a lot easier to do.
And, of course, I ran a lot of giveaways to celebrate this decision. I've sent books all over the world, from Europe (where I'm also located myself) to Asia, to South America and to North America, we had amazing people from all over the world join in and I'm so grateful for all your love and support over that time.
To celebrate one year of Easily Distracted Media, I will be running a giveaway/a couple of giveaways again in the coming months, both because I love sharing and I want to thank everyone for their support.
I released two lesbian romances, A Card for Valentine's and A Blooming Spring Love, and then everything went quiet for a while as I struggled with my mental health a lot. I originally thought that ‘courage' would be to release novels this year, instead of novellas, something I've struggled with in the past. I thought that if I ‘just pushed through' that I'd get over this thing that prevented me from writing and publishing novels, because ‘everyone' always seems to love novels more than the serial novellas I often write. What happened again, and this is by far not the first time this has happened to me, is that I wrote myself into a burnout. I really had to let go of this idea that novels are ‘the one way' to make a living writing and that if I ‘just worked harder' that I'd somehow magically would be able to write novels as my main source of publications and wouldn't burn out from it. I had to accept that novella serials are my way to go, and that novels can be a side-thing but not my main source of income, and my own data actually backs this up, but more on that later.
At the end of April, I had my own stall at YALFestNL, a Young Adult festival in the Netherlands. I'd attended the event before, but this time I had my own stall and it was awesome. I met so many cool new people there and it made me feel like, yeah, I want to do more of this. Which… well, I'm still working on that part. I did attend EuroPrideCon again this year, which was fun, and I met amazing new people who are very dear to me, but I also realised that the queer stories I write don't overlap with what most people at the event are interested in, so this may have been my final year at EPC.
Then, in May, things started to pick up for me, and I accepted that I had to do what fit me best while also trying to give people things that they love. I took a leap and started writing Paranormal Reverse Harem, which then turned into Lughnasadh Elite Academy. From that point on, things started to move a lot faster while at the same time allowing me to keep my sanity even as I was still recovering from my burnout. I had to stop writing Colour Her and stop writing BASE Status: Update because I could not manage that much work load at the same time, all my focus was on writing and publishing Lughnasadh Elite Academy and in the spare time I had I worked on this website and a few other things behind the scenes (like learning about marketing and things like that). I'd dialed back my workload to the bare minimum to keep writing and keep publishing, since that's my job, and just try to recover from the burnout. I managed this and recently I've started posting chapters for Colour Her again, with the hope to finish that story early 2020 so I can publish it and then focus on BASE Status: Update next.
So, since early June, I've released a novella for Lughnasadh Elite Academy every three weeks until the end of October, when it was finished. This series is my second best selling series ever, which I had no idea about while working on it. Lughnasadh Elite Academy currently has nine novellas in the serial for the main story and one short holiday story that came out earlier this month, plus it has three box sets in both ebook and print (the final one comes out next Friday). That's a lot of words, about 240k words in total, counting at about 1000 pages in print. This is the longest serial I've written yet, and I loved every moment of it. I got to write queer people who are heroes and who save the world and they are sweet and considerate and they love each other, and I got to share my love for found family and creating your own family from people who love each other with everyone else. Also, girls who can set things on fire rock.
At the end of November, I released the first novella of the Scarred Cliff serial, a story going a totally different direction. It's still Reverse Harem, but this one is in a contemporary setting (technically south UK coast, though it's never mentioned like that) and it's a story of second chances and of learning to love after having had to deal with painful losses. All the characters are hurt and broken and they're all still recovering from losing someone they all loved (who was an ex-lover of the main character, but also the twin sister of one of the guys from the harem and also the wife of another guy from the harem, so their pain is very integral to the story). The first two novellas are out already, the third one comes out on the 8th of Jan and the fourth one is already up for pre-order (release Jan 29th). This story is proving much harder to write because all the characters start from a point of pain, of being broken, and they don't get healed by each other but I wanted to write the story of how people can heal themselves by having love and support from the ones they love. I also get to write my second trans character in this story (Izzy from The Other Dress having been my first) and it doesn't matter one bit to any other character in the story. I wanted to write that. I wanted to write a trans character who doesn't have to come out (since basically everyone in the story already knows, just not the reader), who doesn't have any angst about being trans and whose problems have nothing to do with being trans. I write drama with queer people about drama that has nothing to do with them being queer, just them being human.
Okay, so, I talked about how I realised that some things were working better for me than other things when it comes to publishing, not just from my feelings but from actual data. This year, I accidentally found that I'd reached a huge milestone in my author income, and that made me dive into what data I had to find out how different projects actually performed with real numbers and not just my feelings.
The first thing that stood out to me was that I'd made more with Lughnasadh Elite Academy in the first six months of release than I had for The Baby Pact Trilogy in that same period. The Baby Pact Trilogy are three full-length novels, and they took me a total of fifteen month to finish all three parts, the first two came out almost 3 months apart, and they are some of my best performing novels ever, and then the final one took me over a year to finish because of burnout and depression problems from both this series and another novel I published in the same year. And LEA was just chugging along nicely, the parts never hit the top 1000 on Amazon (The Baby Pact first book hit top 300 on Amazon, the second book came close too), and it wasn't until I checked the breakdown of the numbers that I realised how well it had done.
The only series outselling The Baby Pact is actually Mated to the Alpha, another one of my serials, and it outsells it by a large margin and it's still one of my steady sellers even though the serial was finished back in 2015. LEA is not a runaway success as that serial was, but that was something special, but it did give me courage to know I was doing the right thing because my serials by far outperform any of my novels on the long-tail of sales. The Baby Pact Trilogy made basically 2/3 of all its royalties in the first 4 months of release, the drop off was fast after that, while all my serials keep chugging along, keep bringing me income even years after release. They never hit as high, but then, they also never fall as low as my novels.
This was important for me because while I'd felt this was the case, seeing the numbers really enforced for me that my sweet spot is writing serial novellas at fast release schedules when it comes to my main source of income. They may not hit as high, but they're much better for my mental health, which is better for my writing and that's better for my release schedule, and thus my income.
The second thing I realised is that my paranormal stories far far outsell anything contemporary I write. This is also the case for my two Reverse Harem serials I've released this year, though, the contemporary may be struggling also because of the moment of release, not just the genre. Apparently people enjoy my paranormal stories a lot more than they do any of my contemporary stories. It may just be my writing style that fits is better, or the characters I write, but this was something that didn't really surprise me so much as that it made me feel a little sad because I do love writing contemporary stories.
It also made me realise that I should use my strengths more and I'll probably be writing more PNR in 2020 (we'll be returning to the same world from the Lughnasadh Elite Academy after the Scarred Cliff serial is finished). Seeing the numbers gave a lot of validity and also a lot of rest inside myself because it helped me focus on where to go next.
So, courage was my 2019 word, and it helped me do a lot of things that have changed the way I work and the way I'm happy with my writing career. I have no idea what word to choose for 2020, I'll probably come up with it in the coming days, but I'm hoping to make 2020 an even better year.
Thank you so much for all your love and support in 2019! I hope you had a great year and that you're looking forward to an amazing 2020!