By Cheryl Brooks
This will be my last post on the Casablanca Authors blog for a while, perhaps forever. My Sourcebooks editor passed on my current work in progress, although she says she still wants to publish me again. All I need to do is write another Cat Star book.
I'll probably do that eventually, and although fans of the series might be pleased, people change. Authors change. Unfortunately, many readers don't want their favorite authors to take a new direction. For that reason (and others), authors keep churning out the same type of books. Eventually, writing becomes a chore, and they end up spitting out the same story with different characters. Maybe not even different characters. Maybe only the names have been changed.
I never wanted to be pegged as someone who did that. To that end, I wrote a paranormal romantic suspense trilogy that is unlike anything I've ever written before. My Sourcebooks editor said it was difficult to pitch because the plot
was too complex and the romance wasn't the main thrust of the story. My agent said it wasn't speaking to her and told me to find another agent who could promote it with enthusiasm.
Well, you know what? I'm not going to do that. I'm tired of pushing, querying, and promoting. I'm tired of tweeting, which is something I have to do or I can't even sell a full-length novel for 99 cents. I'm tired of writing blogs that no one ever reads. I'm tired of going to book signings and not selling enough books to pay for my lunch, let alone my travel expenses.
The value of romance novels has reached record lows. We've gotten to the point that authors have to give away books they've worked long and hard on in the hope of acquiring new readers. To make matters worse, even the freebies aren't working anymore because there are simply too many of them. The damage that Kindle Unlimited has done to author income is irreparable. Many authors who were earning a living wage with their writing have had to go back to the day job in the wake of KU's inception. Some have stopped writing altogether.
Since 2008, I've published nearly thirty novels and novellas, and while most of them sold fairly well, even at their peak, my sales didn't provide a poverty-level income. My last release, Must Love Cowboys, hit the top fifty on BookScan, but at present, I'm not earning enough to maintain my website. If it weren't for other sources of income, I'd have to shut it down.
I'm a good writer. My last Cat Star book, Rebel, won the 2015 Prism Award for best futuristic romance, and the year before that, Wildcat tied for second place in the same contest. Unfortunately, awards don't matter when so many ereaders are filled with more free books (good, bad, or indifferent) than their owners can read in a lifetime.
Not long ago, I read an article about writers who claimed to be "tired" when their problem was actually frustration. I'm all of that and more. Tired, frustrated, irritated, and annoyed. I was one of the first romance authors ever published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, and I'm a founding member of this blog. Most of the writers I started with have either stopped writing or moved on. And now, with Trump apparently headed for the White House, writing romance novels will probably become a criminal offense anyway. Guess it's time to say goodbye.