Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Author, Not A Servant

**There are a lot of gifs and images in this post -- I couldn't help myself. Be warned.**

Just a quick post to address emails I've gotten in the last year. Many readers have been positive, but many have been negative as well.


I stopped writing Rhiannon due to poor sales.

Despite my explanations (which can be found on my website) and despite explanations on this very blog (I explained this prior to The Ripple Effect releasing yet the numbers didn't increase I wouldn't be able to write the series) many haven't gotten the memo.

I tried to figure out a way to write about characters I love and feed my children (FYI, I have four) yet it wasn't working. I was faced with staying home and writing full-time v/s returning to school and getting my degree. Then, out of the blue, something happened. My erotic romance took off and suddenly I had to make hard choices. Did I stick with what I loved creating for less than minimum wage (for a full-time job) or did I take a leap and write something else I also enjoyed?

The truth is simple: I chose to write what feeds my children. I thought rational people would understand.

Instead, I got bombarded with this...

I know many like to bash an author for ending a series midway, but here's the truth: I write because I love it. I PUBLISH to make a living. There is a difference. Yes, you can name call. Yes, you can hate me. Yes, you can tell me you hope I die (and yes, I've been told this from a Rhiannon fan). You can blast me until you turn blue in the face about my choices.

If it's not supporting my family, I don't have the luxury to care (wish I did).

As a reader, however, I DO get it. We want our books and we want them yesterday. Yet, as an author, I also understand bills have to be paid. I think the worst thing is when people lash out when they have no idea what it's like for the average author. Trust me, most of us don't own condos in Florida for vacay (I wish). Most of us don't have nannies (GOD, I wish), most of us don't live a lavish life (unless you consider a bowl of Ramen living large -- in which case I'm living VERY lavishly), and most of us do NOT have maids (this isn't the Brady household).

Rhiannon's Law is returning at a new publisher that, I hope, will revive the series. I'd honestly wanted to put a cork in it, but my editor (a fan of the series from a long time back) inquired about the books and I passed a Hail Mary. True, she liked the first few books...but would she like it revised? To my shock, she wanted a contract. The offer came and I decided to give her one (actually three -- the fourth is in the works) of the books. I figured it couldn't hurt. Edge of Darkness is partially completed and I've been jotting down notes for future books in the Rhiannon's Law World.

Believe me when I say I love writing this series and can't wait to put the plot onto paper. However, when I compare the numbers from my urban fantasy sales to my erotic romance author alias...the numbers do NOT come close. Not at all. For example: 18% of my income in 2012 was from my J.A. Saare pen. The remainder came from my Aline Hunter handle. As a mother and wife, I had to sit down and get honest with myself. The books, as much as I loved writing them, were NOT selling. I sent out numerous DMCA notices to piracy sites daily, yet they kept reappearing (via other uploaders or requests). Even then, I kept hoping things would get better. I told myself to hold on to the railings and give it a proper go.

Not everyone is unwilling to pay for an author's work, right?

Then, after a few royalty statements (which were quarterly and dismal), I gave up and focused on erotic romance. Don't get me wrong, I love erom! I simply figured I'd tuck Rhiannon in my pocket, write her story in my extra time, and keep her to myself. Not because I'm selfish. It's not personal at all. Truth be told she wasn't selling well and I had to accept it. It's not personal, it's business.

Or so I thought.

This is what happened next.

Pretty, innit it? Well, maybe not so much. I can say it was a rude awakening.

I hope those who inquired about the books will be happy they are releasing at Samhain (with the fourth coming soon) in the future. No, I wasn't holding them hostage (if you paid uberamounts for the next two books, I haven't seen a penny if it makes you feel better). I simply got my rights back and thought (prior to submission at Samhain) the series would be forgotten. During that time, I worked on other projects. I did what anyone would do -- I made a business decision I hoped would aid my casa.

In truth, I can't act like I did in my twenties.This isn't about me. It's about the spawn I brought forth into this world. I can't think about myself. I have to think about them. Yes, I adore my readers. But ultimately the world is going to crap in a hand-basket and I have to make sure my kiddos pick up the slack. I can't think about myself, I have to think about humanity (okay, that's a bit much -- I just have to think about the fruit of my womb's futures). It's not about me or you, it's about them. Believe me, I've called and apologized to my mother daily since I've grasped the concept (the woman deserves a medal).

I can 't do this...

I must do this...

While also doing this:

I find it very sad that, as an author, I put time into my work yet I have to deal with issues like this (I won't even discuss the name calling and horrid things people say) when I get "fan mail." How hard is it to understand? An honest day's work (that takes me from my family) is something I take seriously. I have a life outside my job (just as readers have -- otherwise they wouldn't have time to read -- a life outside of their job) which means I have an allotted time to create future stories. I am NOT making income from used books with crazy prices. I'm not hording anything. I stopped writing a series and others took advantage. For that, I do apologize. As for the rest? I'm not responsible.

For those who've been ugly, I ask: Do you have a job? Do you get paid? If you have a job yet were offered a sizable bonus to go somewhere else, would you accept?

Joking aside, this is a serious question.

For me, it's about the love and passion of writing. But I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth (alas, I only wish). Writers/Authors are no different from people who work at Wal-Mart (in fact, I may be heading there soon to supplement our income -- check me out in aisle nine -- no, I'm not kidding). Most of us make pennies on a dollar and don't make enough to survive. Most of us can't even buy our medications or pay for gas. That's the honest trust. I can't tell you how many authors I know with "jobs" who write when they have a minute to spare. They are like me, taking extra time away from those they love to do something they enjoy. And, if they are published, they hope and pray people will PAY for their work and not share it across the internet if/when they get a deal.

Anyhow, this is my response to the nasty emails that have gone unanswered. At the end of the day I'm human. I make mistakes. I fuck up.

Oh yes, I do. Often. I've made so many bad decisions in my life. But I'm striving to be a better person (and business woman.. I think we all are (face it, times are tough). As I get older, I stress less about what people think and have stopped trying to blame others for stupid shit. I accept if a series doesn't work, it doesn't work. If a book isn't selling, it's time to rethink things. Math is simple (at least, for me, sometimes) and if the numbers don't work, they don't work.

I made the decision over a year ago to change my life (which is why I'm not online much these days) and enjoy the things I have. In the end, my children, husband, fur babes, and family are what matter most. Yes, I love to write (I always will) but it's not my life. It's merely a fraction of it. I will always write, that'll never change. However, I will look at royalties and base business decisions on them. If I can't enjoy what I love, what's the point? I might as well join the nine to fivers.

I'm a mother. It's my responsibility to do what's right for my children. We'll never be rich but I can strive to give my children a bright future (who wouldn't?). As much as I want to please the world, I want to please them even more. At the end of the day, I look into their eyes and tell them why times are tough and we can't buy the cereal they want or pay the cost for band trips.

If you hate me for that...well...hate me.

Judging from my email, I can't win or lose.

So stop the aggressive correspondence, okay? It might make you feel better at the time but it's a crappy thing to do to another human being. That's right. I'm human. I don't live in a magical house (nor do I own a unicorn, damn it!). I'm just another person -- with feelings and a family -- who is trying to make ends meet.

It might be hard at first to conceive, but try.

Another human writes books. Another human has a family.

Concentrate. Consider what I've said. Give it a go.

Are we there yet?

Okay, ready?

Do you get it now?

I hope so.

Whew. I feel better now. Off to write (kiddos are finally asleep). G'night!


Mary said...

Hang in there kid. You are doing what's right for you.

Michelle Cummings said...

I am always amazed/appalled when I hear stories like this. Why oh why can't people treat each other with respect? I am one of your fangirls who is waiting with bated ( and its truly been bated, I haven't said anything before now!) breath for the next Rhiannon story, but only because you have told such an interesting story with incredible plot twists and world building. I just wish I could be your patron, like in the renaissance, and commission you to write the next one!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Oh boy. Sorry people have given you such a nasty, hard time. That isn't right at all. I understand you have to do what pays the bills. I'd love to see more Rhiannon, but understand fully. I'm always shocked at the way readers react to authors and their series. It's almost scary.

Do hope you are enjoying your time with the family, that's the important part of your life. (I've been backing away for the family lately too.)

Take care, and hang in there.

mk said...

So sorry that people have been vicious to you. I am a Rhiannon fan, and have been salivating to read the upcoming new release. I'm disappointed to hear that they haven't sold well and that why there haven't been as many J.A. Saare books as Aline Hunter books. But I do understand.
Keep your chin up, and thanks for sharing your wonderful world with us

Christie - The Fiction Enthusiast said...

Motherhood is no joke. The fact that you find time to write, while raising four kids, makes you a superhero in my eyes. I also have four, and feel like I have my shit together if I find time to shower once a day.

Sorry people acted like ass hats. You have to write what pays the bills. I loved the first book in the Rhiannon series. Here is hoping it takes off with its new home.

J.A. Saare / Aline Hunter said...

I wanted to thank you all for the comments and stopping by. I've kind of pushed this issue aside and didn't deal with it. But with the book releasing this year (with others to follow) I felt it was time to step up and get it over with.

I do feel better. At least, hopefully, people will understand what's transpired. If not, I will simply delete nastygrams and refuse to respond.

Out with the negative and in with the positive. That's my motto. :) It's made me a much better (happier) person.

Milly Taiden said...

You know I understand you 100% girl! Readers forget that authors have to sell too. As much as we want to write certain stories just because we love them, family bills and our homes need us to make money. You shouldn't be getting hate mail from people because you made a decision. Clearly they haven't stopped to acknowledge authors are human beings that have a life too. *BIG HUGS* Chica. Don't let them get the best of you. Do what you can. Do what you choose. Do what makes your life better. ♡♡♡

Barbara Elsborg said...

I'm sorry you've had such a nasty experience but one thing to take from it is that people have loved your writing enough to make such an issue of it. We can't please everyone but the most important ones to please are your family and you. You have your priorities right.

Sharon Stogner said...

Well hell. I hope the good emails out number the bad.

J.A. Saare / Aline Hunter said...

Thanks again, all! :)

Sharon, there are many good and I appreciate emails very much. My post did rub a reader the wrong way today, but I explained the situation and reason for the post.

At this point, I just want to move forward. I've said what needs to be said. Hopefully this is the end of it. :)

Anonymous said...

Feed your family. Most of us understand. I await any new books you publish. Keep the faith.

Wendi Zwaduk said...

Hugs, babe. You know I'm here for you. ((HUGS)))

J.A. Saare / Aline Hunter said...

TY!! <3

Sand_Al said...

Your talent in crafting a story is yours, and yours alone. You don't owe an explanation to any fan or reader as they pay for the stories you publish, and nothing more. They don't own your talent or writing choices. If they're mature adults who love a good story, they'll be grateful for the opportunity to read what you write. Anyone else doesn't matter. Love your talent, respect your choices, and patiently wait for what you offer.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other sentiments - you only have your kids with you for a short time, and they are your priority. Your ideas will be there, and you can always go back to them. Of course, the selfish Rhiannon fan in me screams "NOOOO, write THOSE books!" but hey, I'm an adult, I can wait.
and you have nothing on PC Hodgell when it comes to taking time to write

Gemma Philp said...

I actually never read your other seriers, you got me hooked under Aline Hunter, Paranormal Writer. I rarely leave comments but when I read your blog It amazes me peoples audacity. Yourself and other authors do us readers a service by providing us entertainment and escape from our daily lives, and I for one one am very appreciative of the talent you and others share.

Thank you.

J.A. Saare / Aline Hunter said...

Hiya Again (and sorry for delayed response). I don't get mean messages often, but I do receive them. And the one thing I never want readers to believe is that I don't care.

Truth be told, I'd love to write faster and produce the books everyone wants to read. In an ideal world, I could.

But I have children, fur babes, and others to support. Therefore, I have to make hard choices.

The good news is I will eventually finish series work. The bad is that it'll take more time than I'd like. :(


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