A Struggling Indie Author’s Year in Review

It’s been quite the year. I’m not going to bore you with a recap, you were there for the dumpster fire that was 2020. In addition to that, I personally struggled. I had health issues (and 2 surgeries), I was taking care of, and then lost my father after a very long illness, I suddenly had everyone home all the time and not only that, I also became a teacher as well as a mommy. Dumpster fire doesn’t even begin to describe what 2020 was for me personally. However, through it all, I was able to publish four books.

FOUR.BOOKS.

Now, that’s not a lot for some of you, but it’s a lot for me. I want to put it out there now that this post isn’t going to be one of those “If I can do it, you can too,” posts. I honestly don’t know where I found the energy, strength or will power to accomplish this. I have less going on now than I did then, and I can’t seem to get the words out.

After book four, I was on a roll, and I started book five. It was going to be a Christmas mystery novella. After a page or two, I lost interest so I started writing another book, a romance. I get about halfway through that, and then I just… crashed. I crashed hard. I became overwhelmed at the thought of starting a new pen name, and wondered if my book was “to Market” enough.

So then, I decided to learn Amazon ads. Heck, I paid a LARGE sum of money for a course, and I should try to make good use of it. I became overwhelmed. So then I decided to read a few books on craft. I made it through “On Writing,” by Stephen King, and about halfway through “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel” and I became overwhelmed. (Notice a trend here?)

It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even read another book because It reminds me that I should be writing my own.

At any given time (for my author business alone) I need to be doing many things. Below is just an off the cuff to-do list that I’m writing on the fly:

  1. Learn AMS ads
  2. Continue to gather keywords for ads
  3. Plan my next series
  4. Decide if there is even going to be a next series.
  5. Fix backmatter in 3 of my books.
  6. Write the last book in my current series.
  7. Finish the romance I started.
  8. Plan out my publishing year.
  9. Decide if there is going to be a publishing year.
  10. Work on my non-fiction business. (Do I even have one?)

On top of the list above I have all of these other thoughts and ideas floating around my head…

  1. When is a good time to bundle my books?
  2. Should I have an audiobook done?
  3. Why aren’t my books selling?
  4. They aren’t selling because you aren’t doing any ads.
  5. They aren’t selling because they aren’t written to market
  6. Research how to write to market…again because the books you read on the subject clearly didn’t help.
  7. Maybe you should start a podcast about being a newer indie author.
  8. Nope. Cover design. Stick with learning that.
  9. Is cozy mystery the genre that I’m meant to write?
  10. Is sweet romance the genre that I’m mean to write?
  11. Which genre will make me money?
  12. Maybe I should quit books, and just do a mommy blog.
  13. How can I continue to justify taking time away from my family if I’m not making any real money?
  14. Well, you haven’t tries AMS ads yet so don’t give up yet.

Then the whole cycle continues over and over.

 You know what I ended up doing?

I decorated the Christmas tree, I covered every available surface in my house with lights, garland, and Christmas Knick knacks. I made gingerbread houses, cried while watching Hallmark Christmas movies, and I sat and made Christmas crafts with my kids. I’ve been doing something like this every day since December 1st.

I put all of my stress away, and fully immersed myself in the Holiday season. This is not to say that I don’t typically enjoy the holidays, I do. This year, I simply released any and all expectations of myself and just did what made me happy. Writing, marketing, series planning, and all of the things surrounding them can wait.

Normally this would indicate to me that shiny object syndrome fully kicked in and maybe I’m losing interest. I don’t think it’s the case at all. I actually think taking a break, and taking a breath indicate to me that I’m more committed than ever. It shows that I want to make the right decisions moving forward instead of flailing around aimlessly. These decisions can’t be made on the fly. They take time, and more importantly a healthy mind.

I’m not giving up, I’m not throwing in the towel, I’m simply taking a step back to re-evaluate. This year reminded me that time is so very precious. I need to make sure that the time I’m taking is going to mean something, that it’s the best course of action, that it’s going to yield some sort of benefit.

I know two things for sure, I want to keep writing, and I want to help other people who are just beginning their Indie author journey.

In the beginning of this post, I called myself a struggling indie author. I think for some that might have a negative connotation, and I agree that it might. However, it’s not exactly wrong either. No matter where you are in your author journey, you struggle a bit. You might struggle to get words on the page one day, or with a new Amazon policy the next. It’s always going to be an uphill battle and take work. It would be lovely if we could all write a “break out” novel right off the bat and then just watch while the money rolls in. It’s just not the way things work. This business takes hard work, dedication, business knowhow, and a little bit of luck. Therefore, in 2021, I’m going to rename the site from NikiMorris.Com to StrugglingIndieAuthor.com. This and more coming in the next few months, but for now, I’m going to sip on some hot cocoa, throw on some Christmas tunes, and squeeze every ounce out of the holiday season that I can.

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, & stay safe out there.

Until Next Time,

Niki

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