In 2014, I published 15-17 books of varying lengths (number doesn't include when the same story makes its appearance in a boxed set), and in 2015 I was able to release the same number. It's 15 to 17, by the way, because I can't recall exactly how many, and I'm too lazy to double-check. > . <
But anyway, for those two years, my average was obviously more than 1 book / month.
For 2016 and 2017, I released about 11 new books for each year. Obviously not as good, but still not bad.
But then 2018 happened. And I released only two new books under Marian Tee.
When I used to release 11-17.
It wasn't that I stopped writing. I was writing all the time, actually. It was just that I no longer had any confidence in what I was writing, and I was listening too much to what everyone around me was saying. When I first started sharing my stories online (and this was way, way back in 2007 or 2008 I think, and I was posting my stories for free on a chat forum), I was able to post a new chapter each day, easily, and I was able to finish my stories quickly and easily, because I only had one goal in mind: write the kind of books that I personally want to read and which would make me, as a reader, feel good and fall in love with love.
Because no one was paying for those stories, I didn't feel like I owed anyone anything, and this was very liberating, in terms of creativity. I could just write what I want to write and how I want to write it.
But then I started e-publishing. It was the most incredible life-changing moment for me, and I'm still beyond thankful to God and to all the readers that I'm still able to do it to this day. It was just so amazing, being able to connect to so many readers all over the world, and because it was that amazing, I really wanted to make sure that every book I put out would make everyone happy.
In hindsight: yes, I do know now that is not possible.
You would think that with every book I put out, my confidence would soar, but the opposite actually happened. Every new release actually caused me to put more pressure on myself, and this was gradually eating at my confidence. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. 2018 happened.
From releasing - happily and confidently - more than one book each month, I was down to two new releases under Marian Tee (am not counting the Alice Boome cozies), and it obviously didn't help that my sales reflected this change, too. My 2018 earnings was 15% of what it used to be in 2015. It was a huge blow that left me reeling, and every time I'd think about how bad it was, about whether I could still make a living out of doing what I love, I'd have these sudden panic attacks that I never ever let anyone know about. I couldn't. I didn't want to. I considered them a weakness, something to feel ashamed about, and I didn't want anyone to worry about me.
Thankfully, though, I never really gave up. I had these flashes of anxiety, but deep down inside, I knew that they would pass. God was in my corner, and I knew I just had to keep working, praying, and eventually I'd find my way back. Of course, there were also things I did proactively to alleviate my stress and anxiety. I ditched social media for one thing - I honestly miss talking to everyone on FB, but I also knew, the way I am right now, I just wasn't equipped to handle the kind of negativity that I always end up exposing myself to. For every 10 nice comments, I'd get one that I'd lose sleep over because I wish I could make that reader feel good again...and because I keep stressing about that person's comment, I end up not releasing any new book, which of course is a lose-lose situation for both me and readers overall.
So in the end, I decided that it was better to simply pull back and just focus on writing. I prayed and continue to pray that while I might not be as actively interacting with readers in social media like I used to, readers would eventually understand if they realize that less social media activity means more books that I actually get to finish and have the confidence to publish.
This year, I was able to publish three new books (I'm not counting My Shameful Secret since that's something I wrote eons ago under one of my pen names), so obviously that's already a HUGE improvement compared to 2018. And it's just July, the start of the second half of the year. I'm really, really, really feeling good right now, and above all, I owe it to God and my husband, who has never lost faith in me, and of course to YOU guys who have been there for me all this time, patiently waiting even though I don't deserve it. > . <
Lysander and Estrella's story
Steel March's story
...and the start of a possibly new series, connected to my Rancher and Billionaire books.
I know many of you are hoping for Andreus 2, and I continue to receive emails about my paranormal romances. While I'd like to promise that those are the ones I'm guaranteed to release next, I honestly can't tell. All I know is that everything that happens is according to God's perfect timing, so let's say if I end up writing Book X instead of Book Y, based on my previous experience and the power of hindsight, I'd always realize in the end that it had to happen that way. That if I hadn't written Book X first, Book Y wouldn't be as good because Book X taught me things that I would never have known if I didn't listen to what my heart was saying and insisted on writing Book Y first.
I wish I could explain why there are instances when I'd be in the middle of writing Book Y, when I'd suddenly quit, and switch to Book X, then Book Z, then Book Y again and finally I end up with Book X.
Just like Hallie Athanas says...
Sometimes, you just know.