Last year was a tough one for me as an author. Instead of publishing a fiction novel, nonfiction book, and collaborating on other works in my own name, as well as adding to the pseudonyms I use, I personally only published one nonfiction book. While my career as a publisher (yes, I have two separate careers that are thankfully related) flourished; I found that my career as an author had to be put on the back burner time and time again. I still wrote nearly every day, however the final products just weren’t materializing. Managing over a hundred authors is time consuming, and I simply tried to take my own advice that I give each one of them, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Do this because you love it, not because of a deadline or self-imposed quota. God’s timing is perfect.” Sometimes, if I feel they need to hear it, I’ll throw in, “Maybe you are working through something as you write, so take your time and find whatever it is.”
This year I decided to remedy that, and within the last six months I personally published four books; two novels, and two nonfiction collaborations. One of those novels was a debut under a pseudonym. I had initially struggled for a while to decide if I wanted to use pseudonyms, but in the end, I felt it was best. Since I’ve been writing novels going back to my early twenties, I have quite a few books to publish. I started the arduous task of figuring out which books would go under which pseudonyms: Romance and Rom-Com under one, Suspense/Thriller under another, and so on…
In February this year, after that first debut novel published (under one of my pseudonyms) didn’t do well—a feeling I was not used to—I was deflated. I watched the numbers, sales, rankings, and was saddened. In 2017, when I initially began my personal publishing journey, I was blessed by God abundantly and was left awe-struck. I’m going to quote a dear friend and say, “I kind of felt like an imposter, because when people asked how I did it, I didn’t have the formula.” But, I KNEW it was God.
However, when that debut novel I published under one the pseudonyms failed to sell over a hundred copies, let alone thousands, my confidence was shaken to its core, and I was enveloped by doubt like a dark cloud. I thought, should I have just published under my own name? But I knew that wasn’t the answer, either; I’ve watched authors publish in many genres, only to get awful reviews. If someone likes your psychological thriller, they will hate your rom-com and vice versa.
The more I pulled up reports, the more my own advice started weighing on me. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Do this because you love it, not because of a deadline or self-imposed quota. God’s timing is perfect. Maybe you are working through something as you write, so take your time and find whatever it is.” Suddenly, one day, it hit me that I was, in fact, working through something. I had certainly become focused on the WRONG things: numbers, sales, and rankings. I told our daughter that when my first novel was published back in 2017, I would’ve been thrilled to have that amount of sales. Yet, somehow I’d found myself thinking it wasn’t enough? It was a wake-up call. Numbers, sales, and rankings are not why I do this.
I do this for the one person my book or story will bless, even if that ONE person is ME! I started writing decades ago because there were so many stories in my head all the time. I write because I enjoy it and can’t help myself. I started SHARING those writings, because I felt God asked me to. Only, I had become wrapped up in the digits and not the dream, the sales and not the satisfaction, the position and not the purpose. I decided to redirect my attention to what I should be focused on—what is truly important—which is solely the act of writing and publishing. That, as another friend loves to say, is MY LANE … and I am going to stay in it. That is all God asks me to do.
This morning I was greeted with an email from my publishing team to let me know the women’s book collaboration, Banana Pudding and Other Sticky Situations, that published yesterday, hit #2 on the BESTSELLERS LIST, and in the top 100 in all of its listed genres. It was also #1 in all genres under new releases. And while those rankings are fleeting, and I definitely do not want to focus on them, God knew they would bless me now that I’ve realigned my sights to stay in my lane and enjoy the ride.