Based on absolutely nothing, I expected each of my novels to sell at least a few more copies than the one before. That hasn’t been the case. Despite my disappointment at the time about the lack of digits on my first royalty checks, Until Thanksgiving has done well — much better than After Christmas Eve and Happy Independence Day, combined.
Money isn’t the issue. My bills get paid whether my books sell or not. I’m not asking for sympathy or trying to lay a guilt trip on anyone who hasn’t bought my books. The focus of this post is the impact of my unrealistic expectations on my ability to write and, to some extent, my ignorance about the industry.
If you ask me, each of my novels is better than the one before — at least as far as the writing goes. Reviews support my claim. The average rating for After Christmas Eve is almost a star higher than the average for Until Thanksgiving, with Happy Independence Day earning even higher marks.
The Rainbow Awards provide further confirmation. My last two books were both nominated for 2014. After Christmas Eve didn’t make the cut. I was thrilled when Happy Independence Day received an honorable mention, and honored a few weeks later to be named third runner up in the Gay Historical category.
My ill-informed expectations and the disconnect between the accolades and sales seriously messed with my head. Whining to my writer pals helped. Turns out, contemporary m-m romance stories — like Until Thanksgiving — sell like hotcakes. Sub-genres (paranormal, horror, sci-fi, fantasy) don’t sell nearly as well. Historical sells least of all.
This new knowledge zapped my desire to write. I abandoned four different manuscripts — all historical. Knowing they wouldn’t be read took the wind out of my sails. Writing anything else wasn’t who I am as a writer. I was completely blocked — trapped in a cage of my own making.
Next time, I’ll share how — with the help of friends and family — I managed to break free.