Crisis of Confidence

I never got to write at all last weekend. We never had a drop of rain from May to October, and when we finally did, the skylights decided to leak.

This led to getting on a contractor’s list, and waiting our turn. The house is over twenty years old, so we decided to replace the roof and skylights rather than make repairs. It was time.

They started last Friday and had about six guys on the job. Two elected to work Saturday, but didn’t finish. It snowed Sunday, and that killed Monday. I had to take Tuesday off, because they needed inside. Somehow they’d lost one of the roof vents. I get it, they removed the part, slung the underlayment and lost track of it. That all got sorted out and the job was finished on Wednesday.

It snowed again Thursday, so I’m grateful, and the roof looks awesome.

I managed to add somewhere around a thousand words to my WIP, but my mind has other things going on.

I tried to fill this with a bit of storyboarding. I have one idea that’s going to require magic and artifacts and putting them in the right order to make a discovery. A storyboard is needed. My brain is still focused elsewhere.

I’m going to write about it here. Maybe it will get some of these thoughts out of my head. Maybe it will help me reach some conclusions.

I typically do a yearly wrap up post, followed by a new year business plan. It’s time to be thinking about this, but my thoughts aren’t good.

Both of my 2022 publications performed dismally. Reviews seem to be down, too, and I’m trying to draw some conclusions. Add a few of what I call drive-by one-star ratings, and I may never sell another copy again. You know the types, they never bought the book, never read it, but drop a one-star rating, because it amuses them. Amazon is so picky about reviews, and heaven help you if a family member gives you one, but some random stranger who never read the story gets to destroy your rating and they leave that up.

It’s hard to draw conclusions here. I was getting a majority of five-star reviews three years ago, but not now. I’ve either gotten worse at this, or I’ve worn out my welcome. Don’t know how else to take this.

It’s possible that people are sick of Lizzie and the hat. There are millions of choices out there, so I understand.

I listened to my first dramatic podcast recently. Something to fill the commute time with. It was pretty bad with pregnant pauses and poor dialog, but the story was so compelling I’m going to listen to season two next. Tells me that small foibles aren’t enough to put someone off. There’s also a book, but I wasn’t going to pay $16 for an ebook. Price does matter at some arbitrary point.

Giving up isn’t an option for me. I love writing and will always do it. Publishing, on the other hand could be on the chopping block. I already feel like most of my readers are there because of me and not any deep interest in the story or my creativity. My readers mean a lot to me.

I also need to assess my membership at Story Empire. I’m the guy who watches the stats and most of my posts perform well. I struggle to come up with fresh content over there, and now I’m wondering why anyone would pay attention to a guy who can’t get his own books out of the cellar.

I’ve known many an old timer who makes beautiful things, but really doesn’t have a place for them. Old men still whittle, and grannies keep knitting afghans, even though they’ll never wind up at Christie’s Auction house or in the Louvre.

Going wide, and trying to make everything free has limited merit. Amazon is still where all the action is, and Kindle Unlimited is only available if the work is exclusive, so I’m torn on this.

Blog tours used to be my bread and butter, but those failed, too. I know why, and it’s hard to change. It’s complicated. I sold more books by announcing the publication here, than I sold on the subsequent tours. Maybe I’ll blog about new publications, then forget about them. Birds and turtles leave the nest and are on their own. More turtles hatch in a year than I can publish books, though.

The financial difference between selling 500 copies and 5 copies is negligible. Neither situation is going to pay for a week of groceries.

If I stop doing a lot of promo, I don’t really need Lisa Burton anymore. I love commissioning her art, but it was all for promo purposes. That offers some savings, and it matters. She’d probably look good in post apocalyptic armor, or floating around at zero-G with Percy the space chimp, but to what end?

We’re in a phase of getting everything ready to start living on a fixed income. There are a few years left, but that promo money could be directed to paying things off, and doing deferred maintenance on our house.

I need to figure out what I’m going to do moving forward. While it would be nice for my year end posts, that’s not an absolute requirement either.

I’ve been sharing Pinterest boards and people seem to be enjoying them. This one is about promotion, but it’s not my promotion. I call this one Friend’s Books. Check it out



Filed under Writing

54 responses to “Crisis of Confidence

  1. Figuring out what to do, or even whether to do it, isn’t easy. My policy is to face it straight up, and try to enjoy life as it is. Do what you do and try to do it right.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Tim. I just think that promo expense might be better directed at paying off appliances, or getting the house painted as we make ready for the next phase.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I woke up this morning, and while going through the routine, I realized I hadn’t seen any posts from you in a while. I went back through my emails, because I fired Google a few months ago, and still, no posts. I tracked you down and resubscribed only to find this post – you may want to double check what’s going on with the blog and rely on an email list – I know I didn’t unsubscribe.

      And 2022 has been strange – post (?) pandemic but now Russia attacks, and inflation and…

      I’m years behind you, but I have to think it would take a lot more effort to get the same attention in 2022 as it has before.

      I really enjoy your work, and even more, I enjoy the “behind the scenes” look at your processes as I figure out my own.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel this so much. To be honest, though, I never thought I’d see it on your blog, of all places. I guess even the best of us deal with this.

    I’ll never stop writing, either. Love this: “Old men still whittle, and grannies keep knitting afghans…” even if there’s no place for their beautiful creations. So true.

    You’ve always been the go-to guy for, well, all the things you mention here. Perhaps it’s a slump. Perhaps it’s the pandemic. Perhaps… It’s tough to speculate the what and the why. Do what makes sense for you, what makes you happy, and what brings meaning and joy into your life. You’ll figure it out.

    P.S. For what it’s worth, I don’t think people are sick of Lizzie and the Hat. Just my opinion. 😎 Cheers, Craig.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think we all feel the effects of not having $100,000 or so for a major promotion. As for me I just keep whittling and pretty much ignore all stats connected with my work. If I produce something I’m proud of, then I call that a win. I really can’t speak for you but under the current realities of publishing my expectations are to retain the respect of my fellow authors and continue to enjoy writing. I know you have the respect of your fellow authors so, I think maybe spending some time trying to enjoy what you are doing will be key. Thank you for the mention on your board. I do hope you find some answers, and speaking for myself, I think Craig is being pretty hard on Craig. He is one hell of an author.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Lots going on in that head of yours, Craig. 🙂 First and foremost, I sincerely hope you will stay at Story Empire. We are a family. It takes the entire family to make it work. I can only speak for myself, but I always find your posts interesting, and I learn something from them. You offer a different viewpoint than anyone else. That is a plus in my books. I don’t have any advice about the writing and publishing end of things. I released two books this year, and when I last looked, my royalty payout for the third quarter is a little over $10. That’s not much pay for a whole boatload of work. The answer? I don’t know, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Hope you get some things figured out to your satisfaction.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You’re not alone in questioning yourself, Craig. I think most of us wonder about our writing skills and worthiness. But as long as I feel driven to write, I will do so. And if you feel motivated to write, then write. Folks love your stories.

    With over 2 million books published each year, it’s amazing any of us have reviews. I know that I try to do my part and read/review as much as I can, but this year I only reached 44 books. That’s not much, and it’s probably much like others.

    Hang in there…you’ve much company. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  6. “I was getting a majority of five-star reviews three years ago, but not now. I’ve either gotten worse at this, or I’ve worn out my welcome. Don’t know how else to take this.” Just as an observer, what seems to happen is people jump on the wagon, write a review for the first book, read and enjoy but fail to write anymore. This is a face to face comment, not a snipe – what happened to Lizzie is what kills good TV series (except the ones designed for it) and that’s soap. I loved the first three. Four was suspenseful and slightly dark and the soap that one drug into five was a buzz kill. Not a major buzz kill, but still. Look at the rhetorical stance of the first three… You shifted gears on the franchise. Took Robert Parker a while to recover from a Spenser about a third of the way through where we got kidnapped girlfriend, cold blooded killer, a few giant leaps of faith… all very unParker (Chandler) like. Readers who avoid books with too much headtime and psychobabble do so for a reason. Personal opinion Lizzie and the hat need to remain on the light side of susepneded disbelief and pump your mauldin business into the female dystopia WIP. YOu can only juggle so many balls without crosstalk.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. My critique partner and I were talking about this a while ago, and it’s getting harder and harder to find an audience with so many people self-publishing. It’s frustrating, trying to get a toe hold to find readers. Hope you find a balance that makes you happy.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. In the same boat with figuring stuff out. No idea how to even try to move forward. Never heard of that one-star review situation where a person does it for shits and giggles. Always thought there was more meaning behind those body blows.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. To writers everywhere, do what you love and to hell with everything else…

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This is always a puzzle. I’m glad you had the courage to talk about your struggle. It’s really hard when people want you to show $$ or copies sold as “proof” of success. What they’re really talking about is your personal identity. There is no “proof” for that. Even reader engagement doesn’t truly cover it.

    For me, I’ve never been successful in that way. I just keep writing and self-publishing because it’s my art and nobody gets to take it away from me. I hope you’ll find the measure of success that works for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. D.L. Finn, Author

    I’ve been asking myself the very same questions, Craig. There has been a downward dip the last couple of years. I have wondered why I do it too. I think it led me back to doing what I love and not worrying about it. We are heading into that fixed income too and I have found new ways to cut corners but I don’t knit so writing is my only option. Never know what opportunities will present if we keep moving forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dear Craig, you’ve already made more money and had more reviews than me, of course, it would help if I finished editing a book, lol. I, too, wonder about the future and if I even have a chance at my age but I took an idea from you last year and already did my business plan for next year. I also made a reading plan that I hope to stick to. I have been hopelessly lost in both my writing and reading this year yet again as in years past but intend to focus on both in the future. As others have said as well as yourself, not only do I love writing but the character voices would just not bottle up well inside me if I quit. I tried that before and it didn’t work well. I live on a fixed income and have for some years now as I became disabled. I moved in with my kids in a new house temporarily until we find a more permanent home. We are all adjusting well and it has been such a relief for my health. I understand the financial concerns and pulling money into other areas until perhaps things open up for you. Perhaps it is all the economy woes for us all. Hugs and praying things work out for you ,

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I can’t say it any better than the others did. I feel like throwing my hands in the air and giving up some days. This last promo for Subject A36 with a Kindle Countdown sold a grand total of 3 books. There goes the retirement plan, lol. And I absolutely don’t think anyone is tired of Lizzie and the hat, and Sarah had a brilliant idea of you as a nutcracker.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think every writer feels this way at one time or another. I don’t have the answer. I just know I’m going to keep writing as long as I still have the desire. I’m not in it for the money anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. Victoria Zigler

    I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case it’s a combination of not having as much time for reading as I did at one point, having even less for reading that’s not part of the book clubs I’ve ended up involved with, and being reluctant to write Amazon reviews because of all the issues with them they keep having. I know – being an author myself – they help. But it’s a lot of irritating navigating for me to write one, and then I can’t even be sure it’ll be published or stay up. So, I’m slower to read things these days, and when I do I stick to just rating and reviewing on Goodreads. I’ve got so many books I want to read, and am involved in more things these days so able to read less of them (I’ve gone from easily reading a couple of hundred books a year to only just managing to complete a 52 book reading challenge goal).

    Liked by 1 person

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