July, 2020

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Not Very Deep Thoughts With M.J. Fifield (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, y’all!

This month’s awesome co-hosts are: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

This month’s (optional) question asks, “There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?”

But I’m going to skip that question because I feel like I’m too much of an industry imposter-type person to have an opinion on that.

Instead you’re going to get this…whatever this turns out to be. I’m honestly not sure what will come from this post. Maybe nothing. Maybe I’ll get bored and/or tired and/or worried partway through and delete it, like I did last month’s post. Or maybe I’ll come up with something I’m willing to share. Stranger things have happened. Somewhere. Probably. I assume. (Name! That! Reference!)

Anyway…let’s find out which one it will be, shall we?

So, a while back (probably around May 8th), I came across the following tweet and it’s been floating around in my mind ever since.

According to the above tweet, over 80% of published authors stop after three books. I don’t know if the stats went any deeper than that. (If I recall correctly, the attached article didn’t specify.) Like, 80% of all authors? Does genre matter? Do romance authors, for example, last longer than literary fiction authors or mystery authors? Do authors who publish works in multiple genres have a higher rate of longevity? Or do they maybe burn out faster because they’re trying to do too much?

Is burnout even the problem? What percentage stop because of burnout or a burnout-like experience? How many stopped because they were dropped by a publisher and/or agent (for whatever reason) and couldn’t secure new ones? How many stopped because they got into the industry, looked around, and said, “Yeah, this sucks” and got back out again? How many stopped because they simply had no more stories they wanted to write?

Now, if you happened to read my most recent post, you’ll know that I am maybe kind of sort of possibly getting closer to maybe publishing my third book. And I keep wondering if maybe this third book (should it manage to see the light of day) will be my last.

(Side Note: Yeah, I know these stats apply to traditionally published authors and not the self-published variety. Didn’t make me think about them any less.)

I’m only on my third book and have only managed to publish two titles, but I find it increasingly difficult. Not, like, physically difficult or anything, but more…I don’t know. The more I do it (publishing, I mean), the less I know if I want to keep doing it.

Of course, I said the same thing before, during, and after publishing my first two books, so make of it what you will.

(Side Note: I don’t believe this has anything to do with my decision to self-publish. That was the right choice for me. Is the right choice for me. I also firmly believe that if I had gone the traditional route back when I had the chance, I probably wouldn’t have gotten past my first book. (Side Side Note: Not every publishing path is right for every author! Do the research and decide which is right for you! No one gets to decide what is right for you but YOU!) All of my publishing-related issues stem from anxiety, a multiplude of complexes, and probably too much Dr. Pepper…)

I imagine I will always have more stories I want to write. There was a time, while I was working on Effigy that I worried about whether I would ever have any other story ideas. I thought maybe I would write that one series and then just be done with writing altogether.

I don’t think that anymore. Given how long it takes me to write/finish a novel, I’m sure I have story ideas enough to last the rest of my life and probably quite a few years as a ghost. I cannot guarantee, however, I will always have more stories I want to publish.

I work toward publishing each project to keep my options open, but I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go until I actually hit that big red “PUBLISH ME” button.

And…I don’t know. I guess that’s it. I thought I might stumble across some sort of point that would tie things up in a neat-ish little bow, but that didn’t seem to happen here.

Let me just say that if you’ve published three, six, twelve or more books, you’re a rock star. If you’re working toward publishing your first—or even just starting writing your first—book, you’re a rock star.

It’s a hard industry. Hang in there.