There are a ton of 'what I've learned this year' posts floating around, and those are rad, but I really have nothing to add. To be honest, I think my pal Christa Desir summed it up best in her 2013 post, that basically says: do it your way, whatever way that is. Solid advice from a super smart lady.
Book wise, I read all over the place in 2014. From YA to Historical, to Memoir, to Adult Romance to Cookbooks, so my 'best of' list wouldn't really have any cohesion.
I thought about doing a State of Indie type of post, but Jenn Sterling did a really nice job of that HERE.
Of course I had the option of just saying nothing. Or re-posting something I've written before that still feels very true like THIS. But keeping quiet is not really my bag.
So, I can only tell you what my 2014 was.
2014 was the year that:
I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH READING FOR A WHILE.
I guess we all go through phases where nothing we read really hits it out of the park for us. I've heard people say they were in a major book funk before and never really understood it. But this year, I read more than a few books that made me throw up my hands and think: WORDS HAVE NO MEANING! or GO HOME PUBLISHING, YOU'RE DRUNK!
I read books that were hugely popular, and it felt like everyone who knows how to read was raving about them on the internets, and unfortunately, I just didn't connect with most of them.
So I stopped trying.
I read broadly, and realized I just like what I like, whether it's #750,000 on the Amazon charts or plastered on every blogs front page. And that's okay.
I PLUGGED MY EARS.
There came a point in 2014 where I had to back away from the indie world in a big way. (Looking back, it was probably too big. I attended my first and only signing of 2014 in December and had people come up to my table and say: "You're so elusive," or, "I'll be honest, I've never heard of you or your books." lol) There was this level of drama and backstabbing that I was fortunate to be on the outside of, but it was still gross and discouraging to witness. I took my friend Christa's advice and found things outside of the writing world to focus on. I binge watched too much TV with my oldest daughter and my husband. I drank good wine. I started baking again for the first time in two years. I felt incredibly lucky to have this wickedly supportive, loving, rad family and group of friends to cocoon myself into and blocked out all the noise. Because holy shit, there was A LOT OF NOISE.
WAS BETTER THAN THAT BITCH, 2013.
There's been a ton of outrage this year about falling sales and the devil that is KINDLE UNLIMITED. I'll be honest, I don't subscribe to the Amazon-is-evil bit. I think we forget veryyyy quickly that Amazon has had a tremendous part in making publishing a viable option for a huge group of people, myself included. There's anger over KU, and posts galore about the tanking of self published sales. It's natural to want something or someone to blame.
Why don't I personally think Kindle Unlimited is to blame? Well, frankly because my sales dropped a year before KU was unveiled. (Yay for me for being ahead of the curve!) That's not fun to admit. In 2013, I sold less books than in 2012 BY FAR, despite the fact that I had 10 more titles than I did in 2011-2012. The difference between 2012 and 2013 (and now 2014)? Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE and their butlers butlers butler has a story to tell and a finger to press PUBLISH with.
The market is beyond saturated, and readers have their pick of free books, $0.99 books, anthologies with a dozen authors for less than a buck... What was once our marketing strategy--price low and gain an audience, is no longer competitive in this market. There are SO. MANY. BOOKS. and trade publishers are pricing low as well.
I'm clearly not an expert and I'm not denying that it's hard to compete with an internal algorithm theoretically set to favor Amazon exclusive books, I'm only saying that KU is just a tiny piece of what is wonky in the indie market right now.
So for me, 2014 was about balancing out. I couldn't fall any further than I had in 2013 and that fact was comforting. In 2014 I could only dust myself off and regroup. I feel very fortunate to have experienced the fall a year ago, honestly. I feel like I'm through the worst of it, and have a much stronger foundation to rebuild on. I have a ton of experience and perspective now. Perspective is always a tremendous gift.
I MOVED ON.
There are some really, really rad people in the writing world that I've known from the start. There are some amazing people I've met along my journey that I feel so thankful to know. There's some people that I thought were friends that sort of dropped off the map when I wasn't selling gobs of books anymore... It's always nice to know who the assholes are in your life so that you can move on from them. ;)
I LONGED FOR THE GATEKEEPERS.
That sounds ridiculous coming from someone who has built a career publishing independently, but holy crap, I felt like 2014 could have used a little more law and order. Like maybe all of those agents and editors who said the market would implode without them holding the reins were spot on. Something has to change, right? I mean, I don't think the bubble has even burst yet, do you? 2014 felt like the publishing equivalent of the mortgage crisis of 2008. Maybe that's a shitty comparison, but it's been rough out there the last 2 years, with no real signs of it getting better....
I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH WRITING FOR A WHILE.
When I originally self published in 2011, it was after two years of querying two different books (Delicate and Grounding Quinn-which were ultimately acquired by Simon & Schuster UK). I was reading 1-2 YA's a day, and by 2011, I'd reached a point where what I was reading began to feel sterile. Indie publishing felt FREE and AMAZING and AUTHENTIC back then.
In 2014, the pendulum swung and the indie largely felt like.... porn. Porn's fine. But it took over the market. Definitely no more sterility there. Or subtlety. Or anything that felt like the authentic young adult or new adult experience I remember at least...
NA was originally started as a look at late teen's-twenty somethings. What started as amazing, angsty, beautiful, heartbreaking, hilarious, portrayals of life at that time turned into...something else. And that something else sold. So again, I may be in the minority here, but what was being written and published so widely as NA in 2014 was NOT college age romance. A lot of it was porn. (again, cool, but let's call it what it is...)
(And to be fair, as much as I've seen bloggers and readers alike scream that they want something fresh and new and less sex more plot, the less-plot, more-sex titles are still selling like gangbusters, so make what you will of that...)
All of that felt crushing and discouraging. I felt defeated and tired.
I had so many ideas for new books I wanted to write, but knowing how insane the market was/is left me feeling paralyzed. I couldn't write anything. (And somehow, not writing anything felt more exhausting than cranking out 10,000 words a day.)
I had to step away.
To miss it. To ache to write again.
I had to learn to appreciate the process again.
I had to fall back in love.
I released four books in 2014 (down from 7 in 2013) and I'm incredibly proud of each one of them. But there was something tremendouly special and therapeutic about writing Even the Moon Has Scars--not only because of the subject matter, but because (to me) it feels like a true YA. The type of YA I was devouring when I first fell in love with the genre years ago. I was told by many smart people that publishing a tame YA in the current market was sort of pointless sales wise, and that's probably accurate. But it was exactly the book I needed to write and publish this year. It was my 'reset' button.
Even the Moon Has Scars is the absolute book of my heart.
For me, it felt like going home.
I REMEMBERED WHY I STARTED.
I have no idea what 2015 will hold for me professionally, but I've landed on my feet, dusted myself off and I'm writing bold, beautiful characters and books that I love. I have a supportive, loving family and a rad group of true friends. I'm back to writing for me in the purest way--the way it was when I first started. What more could I possibly want?