The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: self-publishing

Things I’ve been talking to God about lately (state and direction of the book biz, Q2 2022)

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

This first quarter of the new year, I did things my way. I set blogging aside, I finished my romance novel (and started a second), I published the horror novella I wrote in pre-pandemic 2020, I gave a lot of books away to grow my mailing list, and I experimented with paid advertising to promote my Dominion trilogy.

And it was pretty much all fail. Fail, fail, fail.

The advertising showed some promise for a while–my Facebook campaigns gained some steam and were actually turning a profit and increasing my Amazon sales rankings and Kindle Unlimited page reads–but then, on expert advice, we switched to BookBub, which was intended to fine tune my “also boughts” on Amazon and increase my visibility there with the right kind of readers, and ended up spending a lot of money with no results, eating up all the Facebook ad profits. So we went back to Facebook, but then just couldn’t gain the same amount of traction. In the end, we pretty much broke even.

And my novella release was a definite whimper and not at all a bang.

Needless to say, I’ve been feeling discouraged, and I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God about it. And as I’ve struggled to understand why all I ever seem to do is spin my wheels and never gain traction when it comes to trying to build my fiction and publishing career, Psalm 127:1 kept being brought to my attention:

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Boy howdy, have I been laboring in vain. Not just this first quarter of 2022, but all these past eleven years since I started trying to build this thing. And I realize now that I haven’t been allowing God to build it, or even checking to see if He wanted to. Even after the long break I took from writing, during which I question whether I was even supposed to be doing this or if I even wanted to, even after a lot of soul searching and heartfelt prayers led to my desire and drive to write being reignited, even then I pretty much just took off and did my own thing without consulting God. Instead of checking to see what he wanted me to write, how he wanted me to be spending these talents he’s invested with me, I just did what I wanted, what felt right at the time, or what the experts said I should be doing, and then was like, “Please bless it, Lord.” And then spending a lot of time being bewildered and disappointed when he didn’t.

So we’ve been talking a lot about this lately, the Lord and I. I’ve been doing a lot of repenting and surrendering and letting go of my plans and my vision, and a lot of just being still and listening and waiting for clarity and direction. And I’ve been feeling some things shift. Shifting focus, shifting priorities, shifting desires.

One thing I heard very clearly, as I asked the question, “Do you even want to build this house, Lord?” was this: “Why should I build you something new when you don’t care for or appreciate what I’ve already given you?”

Oof. Talk about a convicting gut punch. It’s true, though. Despite last year ending on such a high note, such a place of contentment and gratitude, something shifted during the winter months, and we both became depressed, anxious and discontent. I did more than my fair share of complaining and forgetting to be thankful, coveting stuff I don’t have yet and fixating on our lack, slacking off on responsibilities and letting established priorities slide. And a lot of the latter was so I could move writing and publishing and book marketing tasks higher up on my priority list, in the process neglecting, as well as resenting, clearly established priorities that should have taken precedence.

So as we head into spring, I’m tossing out all those grand plans I had at the start of the year and letting the Lord lead me. For now, here’s where I’m feeling led:

  • Focus on gratitude. Get back to being thankful and content with what we have, with where we are, with our current life, remembering that even some of the hard and annoying parts are the result of things I prayed for.
  • Slow down. Stop being so ambitious by trying to force a publishing schedule that forces me to neglect things that are much higher on God’s priority list. Focus instead on carrying out my clearly established responsibilities, and trust in God’s timing and provision.
  • Start blogging again. Part of why I stopped in the first place was that I felt the Lord pulling me back and nudging me to just be quiet for a while, to refrain from writing about some of the things I wanted to write about. And it’s good that I did, because I needed more time to process some of those things, and my perspective on some of it has changed. But now I’m feeling like it’s time to start speaking up again, and there are some topics that I’m feeling led to write about in this space. I’m not sure how that’s going to fit into everything, but if he wants to build this blog, he’ll provide the time for me to do the work.
  • Shift the focus from my romance series to my urban fantasy series–which is really more like an urban reality series dressed up as fantasy–based on a Biblical perspective on spiritual warfare. I’m still going to finish editing my sweet romance and will still be publishing that in another month or two, but where I had been planning to get the next book in that series under wraps before going back to this other series, I’m really feeling led to make this spiritual warfare series my priority for the time being.

And I’m going to start by sending out the unedited first volume, which is already written, in serial format to my mailing list for free, so be sure you’re signed up to that if you’d like to get the rough cut in your inbox (note: being subscribed to my blog is not the same as being on my mailing list–you have to sign up to that separately).

So that’s what I’m going to be doing until I receive further instruction. We’ll see where the Lord decides to take it from here.

PCOS diet update, Halloween craft explosion, TV ramblings & other blather

After a full week on the new PCOS-friendly diet (no gluten, no dairy, mostly low-glycemic carbs), I can report that all week long I was more energetic and more clear-headed. I was also less moody (which, considering it was a PMS week, is really saying a lot), and by the end of the week I was sleeping better. I haven’t yet noticed any lessening of my external PCOS symptoms, but I figure that will probably take considerably more time than just a week. But if I can just keep all this energy and eliminate the brain fog for good, then that will make it all worth it.

I didn’t stick to it as diligently over the weekend. On Saturday Matt made bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers with cream cheese filling (a little overpoweringly spicy, but SO delicious), and then on Sunday he made brats, which I suppose I could have enjoyed sans hot dog buns, but I chose not to. And then since I was already in for a penny, I had ice cream. Oh, and that morning I had pumpkin spice bread for breakfast. Mmm. But I’m back on track today, and finding that the weekend indulgences didn’t derail me from feeling good like I worried they would.

I finally got out all of the Halloween decorations over the weekend, and got crafty and made a few additional items. You can see how all that turned out:

Halloween decorations 2014

For closeups, take a gander at my Instagram feed.

While I got my crochet on, I also caught up on all my shows, including Once Upon a Time, which was better than I expected. I appreciate that they’re basically telling a sequel to Frozen with those characters and not re-hashing the movie (which I still haven’t seen), and also that they haven’t completely derailed Regina’s pseudo-redemption arc. Although that show can’t do a decent redemption arc to save its life, so my expectation bar is set pretty low.

As for Castle, they’re just being mean, although I do like that they’re trying something new with (what I’m assuming will be) a season-long mystery to solve (and now watch them have it all tied up by the end of the second ep. Which I won’t see till next weekend, so don’t spoil me if you watch it tonight).

I didn’t get any writing done over the weekend, but I did meet my word count this morning, bringing the total on the untitled Restless Spirits sequel to 3,885.

I’ve (so far) got a fairly light week ahead of me as far as my freelance workload goes, so that should work out to give me the time I need to do the final edits on Midnight Snacks and get it ready for next week’s launch (you can pre-order it now for your Kindle, if you’re so inclined). I’m also hoping to get an official website up for my editing and self-publishing services.

So that’s how my week (and weekend) went. What about you? Did you watch anything that made you want to scream, or squee? Has Halloween exploded all over your house? How did you spend your weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments.

Stripped.

So, I redid this here blog. As much as I love my old custom theme, I felt the need to go back to basics, stop trying to live up to a “brand” that I’ve never been able to quite pin down and stop treating this as my “author blog.” It’s just my blog, and I’m just a writer, so I’ve stripped away distractions to focus on what really matters: the writing.

This is all part of rebooting my writing career. I’ve decided to go ahead and take a break from self-publishing for a while (except maybe for short stories) and try to give traditional publishing a fair chance. Like I said earlier, I can’t do it all by myself — at least not as well as I thought I could — so I’m going to try finding an agent and then go from there. This means that Intruder and any other Restless Spirits or Dominion of the Damned sequels are on hold while I see if I can find an agent and a publishing home for those two books. Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to work on Radium Town, and also keep writing short stories.

Speaking of short stories, I also rebooted my Patreon page to put the focus there. I’m still tinkering with the page — for one thing, I still need to shoot an introductory video, which kind of terrifies me — but as far as pledge amounts and what I plan to deliver it’s pretty much set. Although if you have any ideas for what you’d like to see offered there, I’m all ears. At any rate, I plan to write at least one short story per month and publish it exclusively for my patrons — which you can still become for as little as a buck a month. Do you wanna? Then click here!

In other news, I barely slept last night, and consequently got very little done today other than tinkering with the blog. I think I’m going to head to bed early tonight, but not before spending the next hour or so in House of Leaves. Goodnight, lovelies.

The truth is I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m taking a break from my Stephen King binge to read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It’s been on my wish list for a while now and when I came across a (battered but readable) copy at the used book store the other day I snatched it up and since then I’ve been doing my very best to force myself to meet my responsibilities and obligations and not just lose myself in this book until I’m done. I don’t want to say too much about it yet — partly because I don’t want to spoil anything; you don’t read this book so much as experience it, and it’s really best if you come to it knowing as little about it as possible — and also because I get the feeling I won’t really know what I’m talking about until I’ve finished it. Anyway, it’s good. Scary. Scary good.

My patreon campaign isn’t going so well, which is discouraging, because to be honest this is kind of my last-ditch effort at being an indie author. I’ve been looking over my sales totals and, despite excellent reviews, despite decent publicity here and there, despite about a dozen other things, the numbers are just pitiful. I’ve said since I started this experiment that self-publishing isn’t for everybody. Now I’m starting to face the harsh truth that it might not be for me. At first I liked the idea of DIYing everything and being in total control, but the truth is I just can’t do it all by myself, and I don’t have the resources to put together a team to polish everything and make it look truly professional. And honestly, if you can’t do that, then you don’t have much hope of competing in this market.

I’ve been kind of depressed about this, honestly. Definitely discouraged. Trying to figure out where to go from here. With nobody showing any real interest in Intruder (apart from a small handful of Facebook likes) I’m wondering if I should back-burner it and focus my wee slivers of writing time on finishing Radium Town and then submitting it to agents. Or if I should start submitting Restless Spirits and/or Dominion of the Damned to some small publishing houses. Or maybe even submit them to agents. I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed and flailing, and this is why I think I might need an agent, so he or she can help me figure out what’s best.

Or should I just stick it out and focus on getting two more books out there and see what happens when I get to the “magical” number six? Six books seems to be the average number when sales really start to take off and royalties start to become a livable wage. Am I just not being patient enough? Not tenacious enough? I don’t know. I only know that I’m very tired and the technical production and design aspects of my books leave a lot to be desired and I’m barely finding time to write, let alone to market them effectively, and it seems that teaming with an agent and publisher(s) could help fix at least some of those problems, but I fear it would also create as many problems as it solves.

Just thinking out loud here. Maybe I shouldn’t, but there it is.

In other news, Hannibal and Once Upon a Time both kind of broke my heart this week, and the Walking Dead season finale was kind of uneventful. Right now on Twitter everybody’s talking about the How I Met Your Mother finale, but I don’t watch that show, so I can’t comment.

And now I’m going to make some cocoa and dive back into my scary book and try not to think about my even scarier sales reports.

Five Writing News Tidbits On a Friday.

Here’s a quick and random Friday Five to update everyone on what’s happening in my corner of the writing and publishing world.

1. Last Friday, I submitted Eucha Falls to a horror anthology for consideration. As of today, their submission tracking system says it’s #705 in the queue and their average response time is 20 days. And so I wait…

2. I’m still taking a break from Radium Town as I work my way (slowly) through Holly Lisle’s latest free course, “How To Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck.” By the time I’m done with it, I should have a new flash fiction anthology ready to publish, with a couple of stories set in the Dominion-verse.

3. Otherwise, I’m pondering the future of my writing career and the path I want to take. As much as I enjoy self-publishing, the entirely DIY model is SO much work — really, I can’t overstate how much work is involved in producing your own book, especially if you care about quality — and my marketing reach is pretty limited. I’m thinking about shopping the Dominion trilogy around to some publishers, or maybe even some agents, to see if I can get it picked up. Even a small indie publisher would lift a lot of the burden off of me and extend my reach.

4. Along that same vein, I’m considering serializing Radium Town. I think it would lend itself well to serialization, and if I could get it into the Kindle Serials program, I could be earning on each episode (not to mention building a fan base) as I write the novel. I need to do more research before I decide on that, though.

5. I don’t really have a five, but Friday Four sounds lame. Oh! But I guess this counts as a #5 – if Eucha Falls gets accepted to that anthology, then I will be mightily encouraged toward writing more short stories for paying markets and seeing if I can turn that into a regular income stream. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Let’s just wait and see how EF does for now.

In other news, we’ve had a lot of wicked weather this week, with more expected this afternoon and evening. Last night, a major storm passed right over us, with enough rotation to make the rain fall at odd angles while it dumped a bunch of hail on us, before moving a few miles southeast and turning into a full-blown tornado. Some roofs got destroyed in Broken Arrow, but nobody was hurt, thank goodness. I hope tonight’s weather stays on the mild side. Or misses us altogether. If you’re in Tornado Alley today, stay safe!

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