Normally, after I release a book, I try to hash out what I did right, what I did wrong, so I can learn and be better about it. For Fusion, I really didn’t do much but run a few ads. It’s hard to sell the last book in the series to new people, so I focused on selling #1. Moderate success and all that.
But what I wanted to blog about today is what I, personally, was feeling on that day. I’m going to point blame where blame is due – I was in a super low mood. That’s what I call the depression spells that sometimes attack with no warning. My depression is managed without medication (my choice) but I find that it’s triggered by big events that fail to live up to my unrealistic expectations.
Sunshine and Rainbows
I’ve released five books so far, and every time, I expect the skies to open and sunshine to rain down. Unicorns should sing with leprechauns. Everyone in the universe should stop and tell me how proud they are of me. That they love me, and money will appear in rivers in my bedroom.
It should surprise no one that this has yet to occur.
Still, though, Tuesday book releases seem to be a party. I was excited that I’d be hanging with the rest of the book birthdays. It’s been a few months now since I started following and connecting with book bloggers. I’m pretty happy with this strategy for a few reasons. Most of all, because I now have a lovely little group of friends who I enjoy talking with about things. So I thought that when I released Fusion, I’d get just as many “Happy book birthdays” as the traditionally published author.
Lying Liar Dragon
Here’s where the depression (aka, the Anghenfil) kicks in: I got the love. I got the RTs and the flailing. But all I could see was the people who didn’t say anything. The folks who were congratulating the traditionally published authors and not me. The traditionally published authors who follow me and were silent on my great accomplishment of finishing a series. And I just stared at my twitter feed until I had to get on a plane and got more and more upset.
General thoughts revolved around: “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” “They don’t think you’re as good as these other authors.” “You aren’t as good as these other authors.” “You’re a giant failure.” and so on and so forth.
Removed from the dark cloud, it’s plain to see that a) Yes, I did get love and b) It doesn’t matter. Sales don’t come from one tweet, they come from a multitude of hard work done repeatedly. They come from months or years of laying the groundwork and a few lucky breaks. When I look at the big map of “Where do I need to be,” I’m not quite there, but I’m headed in the right direction.
That’s what makes the Anghenfil (the lying, bastard dragon from Empath) so dangerous. He amplifies all of your biggest fears and makes you believe they’re real. He takes that nugget that you’ve buried deep down in your soul and brings it up and flings it in your face.
There’s No Logic in Depression
Although I shouldn’t be relying on anyone else to make me happy (and generally, I don’t), I have to say that I was so grateful that Pensacon was four days after releasing Fusion. It reaffirmed my faith in my abilities as an author–that is, almost half of my sales on Friday came from people who’d purchased Double Life and Alliances and came back for the last two. I got reminder after reminder that “hey, you lying bastard dragon, I do not suck.” I even turned a profit on the event, which resulted in giving myself a paycheck for the first time.
The problem with focusing on the negative (whether it’s your fault or a lying, bastard dragon), is that you miss the signs of positive. If you’re bitching about how cold it is in winter, you might miss the small green buds signaling spring is coming. I don’t know what winter is, as I live in Florida now, but you get the general idea. Building a long-lasting career takes time, and when I stop and compare where I am to where I was a year ago, I see progress. And that is always something to celebrate.
Insightful and well said.
I may not suffer from depression (as far as I know), but I can still sympathize. It can be hard for everyone to see the progress they made in comparison with how much further there is left to go. At least, I certainly do!
People often wonder why I keep such good data metrics. It’s so I can compare my progress to where I was before. Even then, sometimes it’s apples to oranges. A sci fi series does not sell the same as a stand-alone fantasy.
Thank you for this. As an author with severe depression (bipolar, really), I know all too well what it’s like to focus on what isn’t happening, rather than on what is. When I released my first two books, I did nothing—because I couldn’t. And in the year and a half since, I’ve had a handful of sales. I’m trying, now—medications did end up helping for me—and running an actual launch week! So much effort! But worth it; I’ve had more sales in the past four days than in the past twelve months (still a handful, but it’s something!). I’m glad you’re able to work past it and focus on the marketing, which can be so much harder than the actual writing!
Marketing can be more difficult, especially because it doesn’t always happen immediately. I’ve made connections that’ve taken a whole year to turn into something profitable. I’m an incredibly impatient person, so that definitely is a problem.
I’m glad that things are working better for you now!
Thank you—it’s a long, hard road indeed! My biggest problem seems to be making the connections in the first place … we writers can be awfully insular.
Bravo, Chris! Keep going! Marketing is hell and something I too am very bad at, despite my willingness to put myself out there. Still, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a train.
Thank you for the support, James! It’s never easy, and it’s hard for me to even put myself out there in the first place. But yes—the light is there!