I’m Still Around, Just Less So. And That’s a Good Thing.
I’m Still Around, Just Less So. And That’s a Good Thing.

I’m Still Around, Just Less So. And That’s a Good Thing.

I’m Still Around, Just Less So. And That’s a Good Thing.

I’m not bailing. You don’t worry about that. I still plan to be slinging smut and keeping the keys hot. I’m not deep-sixing any social platforms either (least of all my homeslices over on Twitter/X). But I’ve come to the realization that there’s not enough of Logan to go around, and when Logan is a scarce resource, Logan gets grumpy.

Something had to go.

The Too-Full Plate

It’s no secret that I have outlined for myself an aggressive publishing schedule for 2024. Between Danny Diamond titles, CRUSHED, and Wonderland After Dark (not to mention a couple of other side projects), the plan is to publish at least a book a month. I’m happy to report that is still on track. In just a few days we’re publishing CRUSHED: Jordan Lubov — the second in the series and my fourth book for the year. So far, so good!

Except not so much.

I could feel the burnout approaching in February. I spent most of my time doing covers and promo graphics and newsletters and social media posting. So much social posting.

You might notice that “writing” was nowhere on that list. I’d fallen into a rut of doing all the marketing and networking around my writing, but not the actual writing itself. And let’s be clear: I wasn’t raking in the dough from my efforts. Not by a long shot.

It’s no wonder I was feeling burnt out. I’d been doing everything but the thing I started this whole gig for — the act of creative expression.

The Experiment

I made a deal with myself. An experiment, if you will. I would pre-schedule multiple social posts on all the major platforms (except for TikTok — I’m an old man, and new things scare me), and do my level best at screaming my work into the void. Then we’d see what happened, and I’d know for sure if regularly punching the social button was worth the time and energy or not. I did this for six weeks straight.

The result? Well, not much. It wasn’t a complete bust. There were a few sales I could track social media posts, but it was like more of a onesie-twosie type of thing. A lot of sound and fury signifying the barest of squeaks in sales (to paraphrase and massacre good ‘ole Bill Shakespeare).

I should have known that already. Other authors in the indie game have reported the same thing. Social media platforms almost universally throttle external links. So even if you do have 5000 active followers, most of them aren’t going to see your content , even when you are literally giving something away (as I found out).

But sometimes a man (it’s always a man, isn’t it?) just has to find out for himself. But there was another problem.

The Problem

You’ve probably already guessed it. I wasn’t writing.

As a writer, that’s a hell of a place to be. And as we’ve already established, I also had a hell of a writing schedule to accomplish. That included a new Danny Diamond novella called Old Flames Never Die. It was due at the end of June, a date I couldn’t change because I had stacked a bunch of paid promos at the same time to go along with it, and I was still stuck at about 5k words in a 40, project. Plus, I needed to do all of this while maintaining book sales and managing not to neglect other important things like family and day job.

Old Flames Never Die  (coming 7/2/24)

I was not being productive. I was also just not enjoying anything in the process. I wasn’t happy.

Social media interactions can be fun. I agape-love a lot of you guys, and I truly value the friendships we’ve developed over the last couple of years. But the amount of time I spent looking at socials waiting for the next hit of interaction was sad. Doom scrolling, I think the kids call it these days?

And checking stats. Don’t get me fucking started on how many times I checked numbers, constantly refreshing websites only to see that nothing had changed in the fifteen minutes since I’d last hit the button.

I felt constantly behind with this ever-looming sense of dread stalking me — this fear that I might not accomplish all the things I set out to, that I might miss deadlines, or might not be able to make the words work this time. The fear that everything that came before might have just been a flash in the pan, and I’d finally wrung dry the sponge that was my brain.

Then throw in the fact that the pile of real-life obligations and duties was getting ever-more precarious and untended, and I had a real problem on my hands. Something had to go.

Or somethings.

The Solution

With that in mind, I decided to change things up. First thing was first — writing. I made a commitment for my current WIP and future ones. At least 1000 words a day, minimum. Writing had to be the focus, all other things gravy on top. The quality of the words didn’t matter so much, just the act of getting them down and having a base to work from later. That was the most important thing.

Then I had to cut things to make room for said writing.

The social posting was the first thing to go. It was a no-brainer. The few sales I got from socials in my experiment could be made up with a well-timed giveaway or $.99 promo, which required way less effort.

The newsletter would stay, of course. That’s probably the best advice I ever got (thank you, Lacey Cross), and it pays dividends every time I send one out. Same thing for group giveaways, $.99 promotions, and advertising (there’s a reason why BookSpry promos are scheduling out through freakin’ September already. They get results.).

Then I had to look at the platforms where my money was actually coming from. The lion’s share of my sales revenue was roughly split between KDP and Vella. Audible, Draft2Digital, and Medium were all negligible.

KDP and Vella would stay, obviously. Audible, too, because once the audiobook is out there, it’s essentially just passive income. With Draft2Digital I made a whopping 7 sales in 3 months, so I ditched it and brought everything back to Amazon and Kindle Unlimited (KU). That left Medium.

To be honest, I don’t feel like Medium is really the platform for me. I’m not leaving. Not entirely, anyway. But Medium, to me, feels like a constant numbers grind. More so than with other writing platforms. The engagement grind, I think, is what gets me. We know what the algorithm likes for the most part, but getting the most out of Medium feels like grinding for pennies. Unless you can get something boosted, and then that’s a different discussion.

I’m exhausted just talking about it. Plus, I’m already having a hard enough time keeping up with the Amazon algo. And I’m no longer dancing with the social algos. Do I really want another?

To add further insult to injury, my attempts to serialize pre-existing content (mostly the Danny Diamond series) on Medium were not successful. They made a few bucks, but I’ve written hundos that made 5x more. Serialized, long-form content doesn’t do well on Medium. At least, my serialized, long-form content doesn’t. Medium readers seem to prefer encapsulated stories, things they can read in one quick sitting, and especially non-fiction. Not long-winded content spread over several weeks that they have to remember to come back to.

Short serialization with multiple authors like our CRUSHED series? Great!

Long serialization like my Danny Diamond stories? Not Great.

So I’m not serializing my larger projects on Medium anymore. I’ll still be around, though. I’ll cross-post non-fiction and blog posts (like this one) to Medium. I’ll do the occasional Hundo prompt. I’ll even do some joint projects with other writers and a few stories for my friends around here. But they’ll be fewer and farther in between. They’ll come as they come, and I won’t be doing the daily grind. It’s just not conducive to my current goals, and I flat-out don’t enjoy it, so I’m not gonna.

The Outcome

I’ve been on this path for about three weeks, and let me tell you:

It. Is. Awesome.

I’ve been smashing my writing goals and having a blast doing it. My goal was to have the first draft of my 40k novella done by the end of April. I’m at 25k so far, which leaves 15k over the next 10 days. Totally doable. And I’ve been writing.

Hell yeah.

Thanks to a couple of well-planned $.99 promotions this month, I’m also set to have my best month ever on KDP (I have another post in mind on all of that, but that’s a topic for another day).

But most importantly, I’ve also had time for family and other pursuits. My kids are happy and they feel like they have Dad’s attention. My garden is thriving. It’s Spring, my favorite season, and I love being outside tending to my plant babies. My day job is on track and I have some breathing room there. And my wife and I are getting on better than we have in years — like lovestruck kids again, in a way.

I’m happy, guys. Not that I was miserable before, but what I was doing wasn’t working. That much was clear. It feels so good to have found a sustainable path.

The Future

If there’s anything certain in this world, it’s that things are going to change. This adage seems especially true in the world of self-publishing. We are always having to back up and regroup. Accounts get suspended. Reader tastes change. Platforms change the rules. Writing partners fall out. Shit happens everywhere, but it feels like it happens at a faster rate in these parts.

All that to say, I don’t know what exactly the future holds. It’s safe to say it won’t look like this forever. But I know what equilibrium feels like. When I notice it’s been gone for too long, I’ll know it’s time to make a change.

Because that’s what we do.

One comment

  1. Josephine Mori

    Congratulations on all the above. There’s too much out there. You have to cull. Even from the standpoint of the other side, even a voracious reader like me. I’m thinking of starting a new books / discount/ freebie announcement subscription under a masculine pseudonym in the hope of receiving less notices about au courant female dicks. They’ve all been rinsed in the same dye tank and none of them are written by a Sue Grafton.

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