Persevering in the Face of Negativity

For years, I sat in my comfortable bubble and wrote stories from my heart. I didn’t worry about sales or marketing, and if I got a review (or a sale), it made my day. I was fulfilling an inner need, relieving stress, taking some time for myself. I didn’t really care what people thought of my writing.

And then I got to the point where I wanted to write full time. But I couldn’t do that unless I could also generate a decent income. Which meant sales. Reader interaction. Providing a product that others actually want to pay for.

I’d never written to market, and my stories didn’t fit neatly in genre categories. NERVOUS SYSTEM is about a six-year-old boy who can control his autonomic nervous system. Is this science fiction? Fantasy? He explores religion, because when you’re born with an ability that’s not “natural,” you wonder why. Did God make me this way? Does God even exist? So there are elements of religious fiction, even if the message is to question and not to preach. How do you sell such a book?

I did one marketing campaign back in October 2015 for NERVOUS SYSTEM. Spent almost $1000, and tripled my money in less than a week, even though I gave 40,000 copies of the book away. Readers went on to buy the rest of the series. I was grateful, and in awe. But I was still only working on my writing in stolen moments, and I didn’t really have a long-term plan. I needed one.

My mom is a huge reader. She reads widely but has a soft spot for funny, clever, steamy romance. Romance is a hot genre, and I wanted to write something for her. So I came up with the String Serial.

But you see the flaw in my plan, don’t you?

How do you sell steamy romance to readers who found you based on an out-of-the-box speculative fiction series? My current readers were less than enthused.

So I’ve had to start over, in a sense. Find a new audience. But true to my nature, the String Serial does not fit neatly into the current contemporary romance genre. No naked men on the cover. No scantily clad women. No best friends calling each other “bitch” (do real women actually speak to their friends like this???). Cliffhangers with every episode (it’s a serial, not a series). And the main character thinks and speaks as real women do, especially during sex – she uses real words for body parts, with no “love rod,” no “hot beef injection,” no “steel manhood penetrating my quivering womb.”

And I’m already getting negativity for it.

And that’s okay. The negativity is not gonna stop me.

When you create something where the value is wholly subjective, you expect some people not to like it. You have to love what you do, have faith in it, and have a thick skin. And I do. I continue to get pushback about my covers, and I already have a disheartening review on Part Two on Goodreads. But that’s part of the gig. I believe in my stories, and I just have to keep going.

Three things have helped me do just that.

One, I’ve cut down my online interaction. People seem to be the nastiest version of themselves when they can hide behind their computers, and I don’t need that. While social media can be a wonderful way to connect, it can also breed hate and jealousy and misunderstandings. And I don’t know if you’re experiencing this, but half my feeds are filled with ads and requests to join people’s marketing schemes and buy their products, books included. If I want a book, I’ll go looking for one. I don’t need to be bombarded with this crap. And if I feel this way, I imagine others are feeling this way, too.

Two, I count my blessings. Supportive, healthy family? Check. Roof over our heads? Check. Food in the pantry? Check. Nothing else really matters.

And three, I’m keeping the people who love and support me close. Recently, I was thinking about cutting back on some of my extra-curricular activities to focus more on the business of writing. But the people I interact with in these activities are a positive influence. They support me and believe in me. Why would I give that up?

I’m hoping that the String Serial finds an audience and allows me to continue doing what I love. If it doesn’t, then I put my head down and write the next story. I’m going to do this. I’m going to succeed. And no amount of negativity is going to stop me.

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