What I’ve learned, what I’m changing, and what to expect for 2019 »
When I look back on this year, I have to admit that it has been full of surprises—some good, some not so good. As most of you know, my first novel was released into the world in January of this year, with the second following in October. It has been a whirlwind of learning curves and exciting moments (like when book two became a number one new release on Amazon), but all in all, I have enjoyed every minute of my first year in publishing, and I’m looking forward to 2019.
What I’ve learned »
If you’ve followed my journey at all, then you know that when I started writing The Promised One back in 2015, it was never with the intention of publishing. It was nothing more than a labor of love (or quite possibly a psychotic breakdown… I haven’t decided). But somewhere along the way, I knew I needed to share the journey with the world. So in 2017, I decided to pursue publishing.
I was bent on getting traditionally published. I queried until I was cross-eyed. And eventually I got a couple of bites on the novel. When I was offered a publishing deal, it felt like I had “made it.” “Arrived.” But funny enough, the more I looked into the deal, the publisher, and the industry at the time, the more I realized that I might be better off publishing myself.
So I did.
I turned down a major-market publishing deal to go indie. And I haven’t regretted it for one minute. There have been ups and downs, for sure, but all in all, I am glad that I retain all the rights to my work, that I control the branding and marketing, and that I get to decide what story I want to tell the world. I would have given all of that up with a publishing deal, and apparently I’m too much of a control freak to do that. Not to mention the publisher was only interested in my book. They had no mechanism to also market my music and art, which is an integral part of who I am and what I do. I did not want strangers owning a third of my brand, so indie was the best choice for me.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes a lot of learning, a lot of discipline, a lot of patience, and a lot of pulling up your boot straps. But it has been worth it. And I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to publish.
I’ve learned that not everyone you meet can be trusted.
A foray into partnerships with fellow authors that turned sour taught me to keep up my guard and not take people at face value so easily. Yes, it’s a bit cynical, but the bottom line is, when you have nothing, it’s easy to know who your real friends are. But when you have something, or at least the perception that you’re on to something, people come out of the woodwork. And not all of those people can be trusted. Since then, I’ve been much more selective about who I let into my inner circle, and who I trust with this business that I’m working my tail off to build from the ground up. A difficult lesson? Yes. But one much needed.
I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion, and not all of them are right for you or me.
Google how to publish your book, join a Facebook group of authors, or do any basic research and you’ll see that there is a wealth of information out there. And information, at the end of the day, is really just opinions. Some opinions are worth checking into, learning, even implementing. But most? MOST are rubbish. And people with little to no experience, or a flash-in-the-pan’s worth of success are quick to tell you what you should be doing. The bottom line I’ve learned… follow your gut.
I had many “experts” tell me not to use my book cover for The Promised One, for example. One even said it looked too much like a traditionally published book. 🤣I’m so glad I ignored that advice because more often than not, people tell me they bought my book because of its cover. And even Joel Tippie, an AMAZING cover designer for Harper Collins said my cover was awesome. Check out his thoughts here: (FF to about 25:30)
Yeah, that was a good day. So I’m glad in the end I went with my gut and ignored all those well-meaning opinions. I highly recommend you do the same, in whatever you pursue.
I’ve learned that the best way to help my brand is to help others.
I used to be like a cat—I’d sit in the corner and wait. If you wanted to come pet me, I’d let you, but I would certainly not come to you. Animal analogies aside, the truth is I’ve learned to be more like a dog—to seek out people to help, to be kind to, to build up, to promote. Why? Because it’s reciprocal. Because the more I give, the more return I see. And the best part? What started off as a bit of a selfish motive has ended up being a huge reward. I love meeting new people in all my social arenas. I love hearing their stories, following their blogs, learning about their journeys. It inspires me, teaches me, challenges me. The more I support other authors and artists, the more I find support. It’s a sweet cycle that I’ve enjoyed discovering.
What I’m Looking Forward To »
As 2019 approaches, I am gearing up for some pretty interesting experiments, as I’m calling them. With ever-changing, enigmatic algorithms on the likes of Amazon and Facebook, coupled with a growing pool of millions and millions of books and art flooding the market, the reality is, it’s getting harder to be indie.
So I decided to try something potentially crazy.
For all of 2019, I am not going to buy ads. Not a single one. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads, no Instagram ads, no YouTube ads, no Goodreads ads. None. Instead, I’m going to focus all of my efforts on grassroots marketing, expanding on the principle above of helping others. I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve on how I’m going to do that, which I’ll expound on in future posts. But I figure I’ve got nothing to lose. And maybe, just maybe, if I can find a way to expound on my success without ads, then when I’m ready to start buying them again, I’ll have an even more solid, larger foundation on which to build.
Be sure to follow me here on the blog to see how the journey is going! (You can sign up for my newsletter and never miss another post!)
And if you haven’t yet, join my Fantasy-loving group over on Facebook. You’ll see what I’m talking about in this group—authors and readers working hand-in-hand. Plus you’ll get lots of recommendations for great new reads!
Book 3 of The Chalam Færytales »
So many of you ask me on a daily basis… “When is book 3 coming out?” Well, I am excited to say that as of now, book three is slated for a July 2019 release! I can’t give you many details on it yet, but sufficient to say… I AM LOSING MY MIND OVER THIS BOOK. (This is a good thing… I think.) Seriously, I am so proud of this story and where it’s going. And just a heads up, if you love Michael and Delaney now… just you wait, Henry Higgins. JUST. YOU. WAIT. *grins wickedly*
Well, that’s all for now. Be sure to sound off in the comments and tell me what you’re working on for 2019. I want to hear all about it!
As always, all my love,
That’s right. An AUTOGRAPHED eBook! Thanks to the awesome folks at Authorgraph, you can now request an autograph of any one of my eBooks. You can check it out here! Happy reading, friends!
Well, I’ve been kicking around doing this for a long time, but I finally decided to give it a go. I am excited to announce that The Purloined Prophecy (The Chalam Færytales, Book II) is now available in Kindle Unlimited! This means that you can read it for FREE with a KU membership.
My hope is that it gets the book in the hands of more people who are asking to read it, and that it’s a way for people on a budget to enjoy a great story! So share the news with your friends and family and happy reading!
Every færytale has a beginning, and every heart has its secrets.
I’m so excited to share this exclusive collection of short stories with you — the story before the story began! Here’s the blurb:
The accident that nearly ended it all before it began…
Prince Ferryl is content with the simplicity of his days with Elizabeth—horse races through the fields and forests, lazy afternoons in their Secret Place… Until one day his whole world comes to a screeching halt. When Elizabeth is thrown from her enigmatic winged horse, the prince is left to grapple with the possibility of losing her forever—and the consequences of not ever sharing the secret he’s hardly admitted to himself.
Will the crown prince ever get to tell his best friend the truth in his heart?
In this collection of exclusive Chalam Færytales short stories, dive into the past and learn just how the lifelong friendship between Ferryl and Elizabeth began. Plus, learn about the harrowing accident that almost took Elizabeth’s life—and led Ferryl to realize just what he was missing. This is where the færytale began—and where their epic love took root.
Sounds juicy, huh? I just love these short stories. You’ll get to go way back in time to the very beginning with Ferryl and Elizabeth — and follow their færytale love from its fragile beginning to the moment that changed everything.
And the best part? It’s FREE! I mean, c’mon. What are you waiting for? Get yours here:
I see this a lot in my reader groups: people (particularly girls) asking for recommendations of novels with strong female leads. And then inevitably, fifty people comment with various novels they love and recommend. And almost exclusively, the novels feature ass-kicking women with hyper-masculine tendencies and abilities that somehow mark them as “strong.”
And inevitably, I roll my eyes.
Now let me just say that I will be the first to admit that I’m a Sarah J. Maas fan, and she is the queen of writing ass-kicking female leads. And I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of my own stance here for even liking her books. But I will just say that any trope, when written well, can be overlooked. Even enjoyed.
It’s still a trope. And it’s one I think we should address.
In today’s society, gender is almost a bad word. There’s a chasm between those who think gender is binary, and the other side who is shouting with ever-louder bellows that gender is much more than we’ve defined before. And for the sake of my own sanity, I won’t get into the nuances of that argument, except to say this: I believe gender is both binary and varied. And I believe that’s what makes humanity beautiful.
Because there are plenty of men who love ballet and art and cooking and reading and playing the piano and performing and [insert any defined “feminine” hobby or preference here]. There are plenty of men who cry at a great movie, who are tender and compassionate, who are not afraid of their emotions. And they are no less masculine for it. Because masculinity has nothing to do with what you enjoy, nothing to do with your personality, and everything to do with innate responses to the world around you.
And the same goes for females. As far as the pink-loving, glitter wearing, ruffle-clad gender norms are concerned, I am not the typical female. My favorite color is black. I like to hunt and fish. I’d rather be in the mountains. I don’t wear high heels. My cuticles look like crap most of the time. I can’t stand most romantic comedies. And my favorite movie is Braveheart. Yet I am fully female and fully feminine and I am glad to be. I don’t consider femininity weak, lesser, or of any less value than masculinity.
So it really bothers me when modern culture purports that in order for a woman to be strong, she must take on masculine characteristics. Like it or not, women are, by nature, physically weaker than men. We are not capable of the feats most men are. Of course there are exceptions. Of course. But as a rule, my husband can do more physically than I can. And that does not make me weak. It makes me different. Because believe me, there are plenty of things I can do that he cannot.
So when authors write female leads who can fight like a man and take down most of them, it bothers me. (If you’re a Maas fan, I know you’re probably saying, “But Morgan, Aelin [Throne of Glass] is also feminine! She loves dresses and chocolates and pretty things and…” Yeah. I know. But I would argue that it is not a love of dresses that makes one feminine. Why can’t a man have an appreciation for fashion? Why does that make him less masculine? Why can’t a woman not have an appreciation for fashion? Does that make her any less feminine?) Why should the ability to fight like a man mark a woman as strong enough? Why shouldn’t innate nurturing and empathy be marks of strength? (I won’t even go into childbearing, childbirth, and child rearing. Because God help us if a man ever had to experience a contraction. But I digress.)
Let’s flip this coin and look at it from another perspective. My husband cannot and does not see the world the way I do. He does not consider the reasons behind what people do first—he considers whether or not what someone has done is a reason for recourse. Protection first. Consideration second. But not me. As a woman, I default to considering the why behind actions first. I stop to think about what makes people the way they are, and often that leads me to give grace and mercy before acting. And likewise, it often leads me to advise my husband to do the same. Where his instinct is to protect first, mine is to nurture first.
And both of things are good. Of equal importance. And equally strong.
I don’t need to kick ass in order to prove my strength. My husband does not need to watch a rom-com in order to prove his sensitivity. We can be different—complimentary—and be at our best. Strong. Beautifully nuanced.
It became my heart’s anthem to find a way to convey this genuinely. I wanted to show what I’ve learned from my own marriage—that complimentary qualities are better when they’re together. And that inherent masculinity is strength just as much as is inherent femininity.
It’s the very reason I wrote Elizabeth (the main character in The Promised One) to be the way she is. She speaks her mind. She does not think of Ferryl as superior or stronger or better. Nor does she think of herself as superior or stronger or better.
They are equal.
*Gasp.* What a concept.
My two main characters are equal. Partners. Masculinity and femininity working together. Side by side. Not in front or behind. And as their story progresses, you see this more and more. Without spoiling anything for those of you who haven’t read it yet, I will simply say that their story is one of showing how feminity is its own kind of strength, just as needed and powerful as a man. And it has nothing to do with high heels and dresses and ribbons and bows. It’s a story that shows how we were designed to compliment each other, not vie for the title of “strongest.”
Perhaps that’s the whole point. Because perhaps femininity and masculinity are stronger when they’re together.