May 16th, 2018
The Reality of Writing Romance

I know it’s been forever and a day since I last posted here. You’d think that I haven’t been writing, but the truth is I have. I just haven’t been writing romance. I told you guys about getting burnt out two years ago, which is true, but there’s more to it than just burn out.

The industry has changed dramatically in the last three years. A lot of publishers are no longer buying romances and those that are buying aren’t giving writers the best deals (understatement). Readers are buried under mountains of ‘To Be Read’ piles. Mountains that they’ll never get out from under. (And yes, I’m speaking from experience. Mine puts Everest to shame.)

Self-publishing has been a blessing and a curse. I’ve made more self-publishing than I ever did selling to New York. But in order to make a living (yes, this is my job), I had to write faster than I was used to writing. I sped up, but I never seemed to be fast enough. I would inevitably receive an email within a day of my new release asking me when the next book would be available. It was lovely in the sense that readers were eager to read the next book, but it left no time to celebrate. I was immediately thrown into must start the next book mode.

While this was happening, I noticed a drop in sales. I know there were many factors for this (ie more self-publishers, the rise of free books, algorithm changes, dropping of quality, not advertising enough, competition from other media sources, etc.) I was busting my butt to write book after book and seeing less and less money for my effort. It’s normal for publishing to be feast or famine. That’s just the nature of the business. I understand this and have begrudgingly accepted it, but it did make me ask myself a very important question: Why am I doing this?

And for the first time, I didn’t have an answer.

I wasn’t getting any joy from the writing. I wasn’t getting paid. I was getting little to no feedback other than demands for the next book/s. Worst of all, I was putting off writing books that I’ve been wanting to write for YEARS. Books that excited me, but I had no time to work on because I couldn’t keep up my romance release schedule and write my passion projects at the same time. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in a life.

Something had to give…and it was me.

I hit a wall with the romance. And it’s a wall I haven’t been able to get over or go around yet. I have tried multiple times to finish the two series that I started. I’ve written chapters in both series, but have been unable to complete the books. Every time I pick them up, something inside of me shuts down. HARD. So after several false starts, I picked up one of my passion projects and a miraculous thing happened–the joy returned.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. I seriously cried because for so many months I thought I’d never enjoy writing again. The voices were gone. (Unless you’re a writer, you have no idea how frightening that is.) So when they returned, I wept.

The moment was bittersweet though because the writing that is bringing me joy these days isn’t romance. There is no crossover between the genres. If I continue to pursue this route, I’ll be disappointing readers who mean a lot to me. Readers who’ve supported me and loved my books. Readers who have brought me joy. I hate disappointing anyone, but I especially hate the idea of disappointing my readers.

So I find myself at a crossroads. Do I stay with what has in the past earned me a good living or do I take a leap into oblivion and hope that a net appears?

8 comments to “The Reality of Writing Romance”

  1. Aw, gosh… Such a tough position to be in, and a tough choice to make. I always say go with your heart…which I realize is pulling you in different directions, but I mean the non-guilt heart direction – the joy direction. Write your passion projects. The net may or may not be there…but as you said, your sales have already taken a hit and you only have so many days on this earth. Might as well spend them doing something that gives you true joy, even if the money/readership aren’t there… But I suspect they will be. Also, I’m glad you posted – this was so good to read.

  2. Leap, baby, leap.
    Do the thing that calls to you, the one that brings you joy. If finding it made you so happy you wept, that’s where you’re supposed to be.
    Pleasing others is fine–but if you burnt out on the romance before, good chance it’ll happen again.
    But if you love what you do, it’ll shine right there in your writing.
    I vote shine.

  3. Catherine, Yep, the heart hasn’t been very helpful. It is truly being yanked in two different directions. That said, there is definitely a true direction the joy lies in. It’s apparent to friends and it’s apparent in the writing. It’s just hard to step away from 16 years of commitment and effort. You know? But like you said, you only have so many days on this planet and I’ve lived with a lot of regret from putting the passion projects off for years. It feels like it’s kind of now or never.

  4. Raine, LOL! Thank you. (((HUGS))) This journey started two years ago. And given the upheaval in the world, I need joy wherever I can get it. It’s also important to me to tell bigger stories now. Stories that may reach younger minds and make them think. I do indeed love what I’m writing. I haven’t felt this kind of passion for projects in years.

  5. Leap! We all grow and change. This is just the next step in your life, the evolution of your writing. If you’re meant to come back to romance it will happen naturally. Write what you need to write. Your life and happiness is more important than any romance book that may go unwritten.

  6. N.J., Thank you. I love that line: Your life and happiness is more important than any romance book that may go unwritten.

    So very true…for all of us. 🙂

  7. I discovered your work when I lucked up and came across a copy of Red. I will follow you whatever you write, Jordan, because of your talent, not because of a genre. Take that leap, go where you need to go. We will be there to catch you. I would rather have you writing books that share your passion then churning out work that sucks out your soul. Never turn away from something that fills you will passion and joy; life doesn’t give us enough of it to waste.

  8. Thank you, Shawn. Love that saying…life doesn’t give us enough time to waste. Truth.