My eight-year old daughter is scared to death of silverfish.
In case you don’t know what they are, they’re creatures with a gazillion legs that are fond of hanging out in dark closets and bathtubs. A million legs creepier than a spider, I’d say they are not the most attractive things on Earth, but they probably think the same about us.
Last night I was reading a book with my daughter, and at one point the main character stood up and accidentally crushed an insect that he’d previously been studying. My daughter started to cry. I asked her why and she said, “Just because you’re scared of something doesn’t mean you hate it.”
When I was a child, I had similar fears. These days, I have a lot of fears on my mind, but mostly grown-up ones about how I’ll pay the bills or whether my kids are safe. And seriously, I HATE the thought of losing my home or having anything happen to my kids. But another fear that’s on my mind—and gaining greater and greater prominence-- is one that’s been on my head since 2008, when I sold my first book, FAIRY TALE.
Back then, things were different. When you sold a book in YA, THE major hurdled had been jumped. You were no longer a dabbler, a wannabe, or a hobbyist… you were a professional. Now, you could wear the bright “published author” badge on your sleeve, and things would be different. Agents and editors would forever now stand up and take notice of you.
But things have changed a lot since then. The success of YA meant that it exploded. When FAIRY TALE released in 2009, it was one of three YA books to release that week. My most recent release, DROWNED, shared a release date with nearly a dozen YA books. And since the advent of self-publishing, anyone can be a published author. While getting to “published” has become easier because of the many new avenues available, being successful at it has become exponentially harder, for just about everyone.
At first, my aim was to just write and sell one book a year. That was the limit of my abilities, I said, that was my goal. But as traditional publishing struggled to find its footing, competition increased and self-publishing grew, I started to realize that was not enough. It took longer for books to sell traditionally, and advances were smaller. I needed to write more books in order to keep at the same earning level as I was at in 2009.
So, as I sit here writing this, I’ve written 5 books this year, in addition to working a full-time job. I’ve self-published a couple, one is trying to find a publisher, one will be published next year, and the other one . .. who knows? Yeah, I’m running myself ragged with the writing, trying to keep myself afloat, to not let go of that dream I had so many years ago, before I wrote my first book. But this is all to counteract my greatest fear; that I will never write another publishable thing. Every book I churn out, I wonder if it will be my last, if the reviews will be so terrible or no one will want to work with me again. The industry certainly does not make things easy to stick it out. Which I guess is why I need to.
And I love writing. I’d still be doing it, even if I’d never been promised a cent for it. After all, just because something scares you doesn’t mean you hate it.