A Steep Learning Curve

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a proper blog here, which is bad of me. I should be posting regularly and doing all those professional things indie writers are supposed to do, but instead, I suppose you could say I’ve been hiding. Yep – I’m admitting it here and I’m admitting it now: I am a Grade A Coward.

Once upon a time, having a book published was a big ol’ pipe dream. Now, to put it bluntly, it isn’t. Predator X has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams; I thought a handful of people might read it and that would be that, but instead it has reached the dizzying heights of the #1 horror spot on Amazon.com, #74 in ebooks overall, and#6 in horror on Amazon.co.uk. It still sells well to this day, and to say that baffles me is a bit of an understatement.

It’s also pretty terrifying. Before this happened, I’d never really given the actual reality of having a book out there in the big, wide world a second thought. It turns out, though, that suffering from clinical anxiety issues is not hugely compatible with doing public stuff (I know, who would’ve thunk it, eh?!), and the curve in learning how to deal with this is hugely steep. I know there’s a lot of people out there who will be thinking ‘wtf? You’re published, I’m not – stop whinging!’, and yep, I get that – but take it from me, it isn’t all roses and Maltesers. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I’m not joking when I say the old heart from goes from ten-to-the-dozen each and every time I even think about checking rankings and reviews. I know some people relish in it all, but I personally find it very hard. Not because I can’t handle what is being said (I was a teacher – believe me, I’ve heard it all before, in glorious technicolor!), but simply because it makes me feel incredibly exposed. I struggle with the whole ‘putting yourself out there’ thing; not because I’m lazy or arrogant, but simply because it’s scary to open yourself up publicly like this (seriously, if anyone has any techniques in how to deal with all of this without going insane, please let me know!).

PredX is now public property. Some people liked it. Some didn’t. Some even loved it. Others completely loathed it. And I’m actually all right with that, because people are all different and are allowed to have different opinions. As it happens, I have learned *loads* from all of these people, from all sides of all the fences, and I am grateful for that. One of the most fundamental things I have learned is people don’t know me. In the past, I wrote for pretty tight-knit communities, where everyone knew me as the Lovecraft-inspired SFF nut who will shoehorn a shoggoth into everything if she gets half a chance, and so my twists off into the realms of cosmic horror/scifi silliness didn’t come as a surprise. I’ve now learned that when it comes to wider audiences, I really have to make that clearer. I have also learned that what writers like, readers don’t necessarily get on with. That came as bit of a shock – after spending years being told overwrite, I spent ages paring back the writing, getting rid of backstory, getting rid of all but the most necessary descriptions… only to find that’s what a lot of readers want. Which only goes to show that no one, no matter how confident they seem to be, no matter how loud they shout about the so-called ‘rules’, they aren’t necessarily right.

So, what next? I’m currently writing my next book for Severed Press, an occult / horror called Canter’s Leap. It’s different from PredX despite the lake monster theme (which is why they commissioned me), and that’s both a joy and a worry. Because now I’m a known entity, and I have everything to lose… but also everything to gain. I just hope those of you who enjoyed PredX like Canter’s Leap. I’m enjoying writing it (just about to write a good old body-horror scene – got to love a good bit of body-horror), and I hope that you do, too. Because the thought of disappointing you lot… yeah, that’s heartbreaking (and terrifying. Like I said, I’m a coward… ^^D).

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