Tea Talk – Gambles
When I started my career, I had no clue about the indie publishing business. I had not – ever – read an indie published book. I was a paperback purist at the time. That naivety was good in some ways. It allowed me to follow my whims without knowing if it was marketable or if anyone would want to read it. Because, well, no one was reading my books anyway so it didn’t matter! lol. I took chances with touchy subjects – self-harm and addiction and violent zealots in “For A Good Time, Call…” and about a supremely damaged man in the second book in that series. “Dissent” was full of everything I have learned is hugely risky to write about in this industry, other women drama and that scene with Poe. Then, of course, there was “The Stars Landing Deviant” which pushed the boundaries even further with huge trigger warnings for sensitive readers. They were risky, but not gambles since my career was practically nonexistent at the time.
Then “Reign” happened.
And “Monster” happened.
Suddenly, I went from being days away from having to go back to a “real job,” to being able to support myself fully doing the only thing I ever wanted to do since I was a little girl writing stories in her notebook in class.
I had readers. Finally.
People who liked my darker, edgier work, the action-packed, the mystery-laden.
I was ecstatic.
I had so many stories too tell, so many twisted little plots in my head, so many complex, gray characters who needed to tell their stories.
There were others, though, too.
For as many dark and angsty characters I had rolling around, I had just as many other types. Normal people. Paranormal creatures. Lighter stuff, funnier stuff, just… different stuff.
But having a reader base means that doing those other, less marketable books, is a gamble.
And for a while, one I wasn’t willing to take.
When this is the only thing you have to rely on for an income, you tend to play it safe. Which isn’t a bad thing since I genuinely love my safe. I adore this crazy, ever-growing cast of characters in this little place known as Navesink Bank.
And then I peppered in some sweet holiday novellas to get those other parts of my creativity out there without it being risky.
Then, sometime in late 2017, I got this idea. For this BDSM book. But BDSM done right. I gave up on the genre as a reader ages ago, never finding anything that did the genre justice.
Now, BDSM is contentious in this industry.
You have lovers of it and people who outright refuse to read it.
So writing it, when it is out of your wheelhouse, is a gamble.
But one I felt brave enough to take.
So I did.
And it did… alright.
I mean, I knew it was never going to be a Henchmen, Savages, Mallick, Professionals level of success. But I was okay with how it did.
So a few months later, I got an idea for this other gamble of a book.
“Fix It Up.”
I loved writing this book. It was fun, light, real, relatable. It was so exciting to be back in a average-joe settling like where my publishing roots started (with the Stars Landing series).
But, unlike “Don’t Come,” “Fix It Up” was a gamble that failed rather spectacularly sales-wise.
That’s the chances with gambles, though – you win some, you lose some.
I won’t say there wasn’t a bit of disappointment. Of course there was. I loved it, but the audience didn’t snatch it up. And it made me anxious. To try again. To take another risk.
So I didn’t.
I doubled down.
I worked my fingers to the bone that summer putting out a ton of work. Mostly things that were safe, with a few passion projects thrown in (the next Green series book, the next Stars Landing). And I shelved the idea of taking any risks for a while.
But then, well, “Faire l’amour” wanted to be told. Begged to be told.
I played details of this book close to the vest because I knew this was maybe a bigger risk than any of the others before. It wasn’t just a simple rom-com type story like “Fix It Up” or a basic, accepted kink like “Don’t Come.” It dealt with people in an industry many people still look down upon, wrinkle their noses out, think is seedy and gross.
I literally made myself sick while writing “Faire l’amour.” At the time, I thought the daily, crippling, send-me-to-bed-sobbing migraines were just… a family thing. Women in my family get migraines. It wasn’t until the book was done and the migraines suddenly disappeared that I realized I was bringing them on myself with stress, this overwhelming anxiety and fear about taking this risk. Even though I was more established, had an incredibly supportive reader-base who repeatedly said they’d read my grocery list if I published it.
Now, would “Faire ‘amour” have done really well? Honestly, no one knows. Since it got banned within a few days of releasing, then suddenly re-instated a few days after that. It ruined the release week. And release week is the make-it-or-break-it for any book.
Because of all the drama, sales tanked. They have been on a continuous downward spiral since then actually. Making me super anxious about taking a gamble again.
That said, I am a bit of an addict, coming back to this table again and again no matter how many times the house wins. I am, at my very core, an incredibly stubborn person. I refuse to give up. I refuse to accept that my gambles can’t be a success someday. I refuse to pigeonhole myself out of fear.
I’m taking a little break from gambles. I don’t think I would survive another month of those migraines just yet lol. I am going to focus on some guys who have been waiting patiently for their stories – Kingston, Ranger, Roan, Barrett, etc.
But a day is going to come.
I’ll get that itch again.
Walk up to the table.
Take a chance.
Write something new, different, unexpected.
Maybe, possibly, hopefully, that time, I can win.
And the house can suck it 😉