You know the old adage, don't put all your eggs in one basket? This applies to writing just as well as anything else.
The first two books I've gotten published are books I and II in a middle grade fantasy series. Years ago when I first started writing the series, I envisioned myself as the next Anne McCaffrey with my series going on and on forever. I was fully invested in the story, the characters, and the entire world I had created.
My publisher had a lot of confidence in the stories, and I was extremely grateful to be able to see them in print. But I was forewarned that selling middle grade, especially middle grade high fantasy, would be a long, hard road. That turned out to be a huge understatement.
Without the financial and promotional backing of a large press, my publisher and I did everything we could to sell those books. Yes, I've seen a measure of success, but mostly in my home town and the surrounding cities where I do a lot of school visits and author signings. Overall, and I'll just be blunt, sales have been less than optimal.
Now, I know as writers we consider ourselves artists of a sort. We write because we are driven to create, and as long as the kids who read our books love them, then we've succeeded, right? Well, yes and no. Eventually even the most art-lovin' writer would like to see some profit from all her efforts, and I am no exception. I work hard - very, very hard - at what I do. Hours every day in writing, editing, and promoting my work. I spend inordinate amounts of time on the road visiting schools, spending my own money on babysitting, gasoline, food, and marketing materials, more often than not without any money coming back to me. Frankly, after two years of this I am frustrated and, yes, discouraged. If I had placed all my hopes and dreams on this one book series, I would have reached the end of my road rather quickly.
I haven't. I love my fantasy series and will write and publish it as long as I can, if not for my young fans' sakes, then for mine. But that is not all I have written or will write. Discovering how challenging it is to market middle grade books prompted me to write a young adult thriller, CONTACT, which comes out in June with a new publisher, Hallowed Ink Press. But not wanting to take the risk of getting pigeon-holed into a specific genre (just in case it doesn't work out for me) I have written a historical middle grade novel, a young adult horror/sci-fi novel, AND a contemporary young adult novel, each of which I hope will take me further down the road to eventual success.
And how do I define success as an author? For me it is simple really: I want to earn a profit from my books on a regular basis, enough to help pay my bills and put my kids through college. I know my road to success will be longer than some writers', and that's okay. It's a road I'm willing and very happy to travel.