Before writing this post, I decided to go back and re-read last year's blog post that summed up 2015 and looked into 2016. It was so full of hope and expectations and joy, because 2016 was going to be my first year as a full-time author. I'd still work one day a week at the former day job, mostly to ensure physical activity and social interaction, but yeah...full-time author.
It definitely didn't go as planned.
2015 remains the best year of my writing career, money-wise. It enabled me to write full-time. Two important things led me to the choice to give up my full-time with benefits day job last year.
1) The royalties I earned over the course of 2015 allowed me to have a savings account for the first time since I was a teenager. For many years, I'd seen a certain piece of advice given to writers about making the leap to full-time: don't do it until you have enough money saved to live at least one year. I had that.
2) Samhain Publishing. At the time, I had seven books out with them and two contracted for 2016. Samhain pays monthly. Those monthly checks, knowing I'd have that solid monthly income, was part of my plan.
So when Samhain announced on February 26, 2016 that they were closing, I had a minor meltdown. This was not part of my plan. I spent several months quietly panicking about how to deal with reissuing all of my titles. I got rights to Fractured Hymns (originally contracted to be published by them in September 2016) back on June 22. And then literally THE NEXT DAY Samhain announced "Just kidding!" We aren't closing after all. Oops.
But trust was lost. Not only from readers, but from authors, editors, artists, and everyone else who'd been burned by the closing announcement. When I first began writing m/m, Samhain was my dream publisher. I was over the moon when Cost of Repairs was accepted by them. But I don't trust them enough to publish with them again. My royalties from them are at an all time low, and it's scary.
Let's not even talk about the sudden, end of the year shutdown of ARe and the money they're stealing from us.
Across the board, my sales are down, and it's difficult to pinpoint why. I wrote something a little off-brand with Off Beat, because my publisher wanted a marketable concept, and rock stars are always marketable, right? Nope. But I'm still super proud of this series and I love the characters to pieces, so I have no regrets. Same with All Saints, which hasn't been as popular as either Belonging or Restoration. New Adult seems to be winding down a bit in popularity, so it could be as simple as a market shift. But All Saints was also my first time being published in mass market paperback, so again, no regrets. No regrets, but doubts abound.
At the end of my first year as a full-time author, I'm doubting myself. Doubting the decision. I don't regret it, and I don't regret any of the books I published in 2016, but I am doubting myself. Doubting every single decision I make. And I'm wondering if I'll be able to pull this full-time author thing off again in 2017.
But I don't want this to be a total gloom-and-doom post, because 2016 had some amazing highlights for me, as well.
I had six books release this past year, which is amazing. I launched two new series with Come What May (All Saints) and Body Rocks (Off Beat). Both series had book two release, as well (Say It Right and Steady Stroke, respectively). The third Perspectives book (The Heart As He Hears It) gave you guys the cutest kitten ever in Bear. And then there was Fractured Hymns, a novel very dear to my heart.
My goal as a full-time author was 40,000 words a month. 10,000 a week didn't seem too scary. Broken down into 5 days, it's only 2000 words a day. I had some super-amazing writing months (69k words in August) and some incredibly terrible months (less than 6k in September. But my monthly average was 41k, and I ended the year having written 500,440 words!!!! Half a million words. WOW. That number doesn't even include dozens of promotional blog posts.
I finished writing Steady Stroke in early January. So in 2016 I completed Say It Right (angst level: expert) Hot Licks (my first menage romance), As I Am (Will's book!), and Here For Us (my second surprise menage). I worked on, but did not complete, my first shifter story, a new Prodigal universe story, a new Cost of Repairs novel, and something I'll call Super Angsty Thing. I wrote two free shorts: Adopting Faith and Do You See What I See?
I also self-published for the first time with Fractured Hymns! It was a fun experience, and I absolutely plan to self-publish more books in 2017.
Maybe the biggest highlight of my year was creating A.M.'s Pot O Gold, a reader group on Facebook for chatting, giveaways, early news, and general fun. It's got a great bunch of people in it, and we're always open to new members.
Maybe best of all, though, is my daily interaction with readers, bloggers and fellow authors through social media. The continued love and support means everything to me.
Looking into 2017, I don't have too much to report as of yet. I'm not under new contract with any of my publishers (yet, fingers crossed), and my last two contracted releases come out in February: Hot Licks on 2/7 and As I Am 2/13. I hope to self-publish Here For Us in March. Beyond that....again...doubts. I am absolutely not going to quit writing m/m romance. I love it too much, and I love this community too much. But I need to figure out how to make that downward slow arch back upward again.
What's that sports term....ah. Rebuilding year. Maybe that's what I'll look at 2017 as: a rebuilding year.
Peace, love and happiness, y'all.