What a CRAZY, wild ride!
Six years ago, I chewed my nails off waiting to hear from a traditional publisher on my first-ever novel submission. Never did I know what that simple ‘yes’ would mean for me and my writing journey. And frankly? I’m glad I didn’t. It would have terrified me. I wasn’t remotely ready for the crazy that was about to ensue and take over my world.
I was 40 years old and figured it was about time I get a lifetime of works out in the world. Having begun my first novel at age twenty-three, the flash drives and even dusty hard copies and ARCs were piling up. It was time to let readers see what I’d been up to. A year and five long months later, that book, Crazy Like Me, was released into the world by that same publisher. With the support of friends and a gigantic extended family, I felt fantastic about my debut release. Even priced at $7.99 ebook and $24 paperback (prices set by my publisher, not me) sales went well – most likely due to a large extended family and big high school class. In reality, I wasn’t tricked. Never did I think I’d be the next big thing. But that didn’t matter to me. By then, my two greatest life achievements were becoming grown men and decent, kind ones. Books? They were only so important. That is, I understood that my words were being purchased by people who wanted to support me more than read a book about a zany group and love-sick therapist. Goal one had been achieved: my words were in the world, being read or not. It was time for a new goal – organic readers.
Five years and 100 books later, it’s not lost on me that that book, of all I had coming, was the first. The word CRAZY became both me and my brand and the very thing that defines my journey in both indie and traditional publishing. Never would I have guessed that other than a few select people, my family would lose interest and that my new, stranger-to-me readers would become the bigger part of my story. But here we are. Somehow, I’ve managed to find those organic readers who have become a greater part of my story than many of the people in my real life. It’s fantastic how words can do that – bridge people who have never even met over shared experiences, interests, or even laughs. Words are powerful – capable of bridging, dividing, hurting, and healing.
From anthologies to short stories, novels and novellas, co writes and solos and even therapy journals, I’ve been crazy enough to try it all. With works and published words people in indie would never even know about, I’ve built a lifestyle around daily writing and taught myself the discipline it takes to always stay a year ahead with my writing – not as easy as it might seem from the outside and those who now watch me. As I typed ‘the end’ on my 100th work this week, I realized it was a check point for what I’d do next. Between earning my letters as a USA Today bestselling author and collecting my share of orange banners to releases that flopped so hard I might have been lucky to sell ten copies, I am now in that same strange place I was six years ago – nervously chewing my nails with what comes next.
With enough content to publish another hundred books in less than three years, I am aware of those who accuse me of flooding the market. With success comes haters as quickly as friends. That line is as long as my works list and I’m okay with that. The thing about this crazy journey is that it’s taught me 100 times more than I’d have ever asked of it. Clear on why Van Gough cut off his ear but also that feeling of self-satisfaction that comes with a title that makes a real-life difference, I’ve been there. The question now is, where do I go from here? And crazy enough? The answer is simple.
I currently have twenty or so edited, ready to go, titles sitting on a hard drive and/or already uploaded to my KDP accounts. Those releases will go out as planned. But for the next 100 titles, I have a new, even crazier plan. During my time in indie, I’ve helped as many people as I’ve pissed off. I’ve given countless hours to mentoring newer authors and helping them avoid exactly every mistake I’ve made in publishing. (Far more than 100 and I’m very transparent about them where I can be). Some have listened, most have not. But no different than my clients in my work as a therapist, most have grown and of all my personal achievements, that is probably the most satisfying.
In reality, I don’t have the ego or interest in chasing ranks or even defining myself as an author the way I probably should. To this day, I avoid talking about something I work at seventeen hours a day, seven days a week with people in my real life because writing, believe it or not, is not how I view myself. Instead, I still see myself as a therapist working to make some sort of difference in the world. Life is short and the world is a pretty dark place for many. My writing has put me in touch with readers who have reached out and shared their stories and my ability to give them a hand has been more important to me than sales. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to put down the pen.
After a lot of thinking, I have come to a place where I know what I need to do next. I’m not going anywhere. For me, quitting would be crazier than all of this has been. And believe it or not, my sanity is, and has always been, quite fully intact. But now, with a clear and focused plan of new goals I am positive I can crush the way I did the last batch, it’s time for a new adventure. Be clear: I’m not going anywhere. I have a publishing house to run and authors who I view as family. But as for titles from Erin Lee? They will be few and far between. Other than the releases I already have in waiting, I have twelve WIPS to complete but won’t be adding more to my bucket list, things will be changing. As always, I fully intend to honor every deadline and contractual commitment I currently have. I am proud to say that in this five years, I’ve never left anyone hanging and don’t plan on starting now.
To my readers: Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for loving the words, understanding my messages and even corny sense of humor. We’ve come a long way together and you are so important to me. Without you, this would be pointless.
To the family members and IRL friends who still support me: Well, you’re my favorites too. Unlike friends, we can’t choose who we are related to and the fact that you have chosen to at least act interested means the world to me. Thank you.
To my Crazy Ink authors: I get that half of you view me as a monster who pushes and pulls for words. I know you don’t understand why I take deadlines and contracts as seriously as I do. But I can promise you that I do not ask of anyone anything I haven’t done myself and/or expect of myself. My journey has only further emphasized why these things are important and I can’t be sorry for that. For the other half, who I have watched grow and bloom? YOU are my heart. You are better than any USA Today letters or banners. You are what makes all the sleepless nights worth it. Thank you for trusting me to take you on a wild crazy train adventure! We have so much more to do!
To my outside CI author friends and mentors: Thank you for inspiring me, challenging me, and being there with solid advice and kindness. I hope I can give back to you what you have given me and wish you the best success in your writing careers. I have learned from you and laughed with you. I can’t say how much that means.
To me: You know what to do. Follow your gut and crush it like you always do.
Thank you to all who have ridden the crazy train with me during this wild, part one of the adventure. No, I haven’t lost it. I haven’t quit either – that word is not even in me. I’m just changing a few things and am so excited about where things are heading. Catch you at the next stop, friends. #HappyReading #HappyWriting #StayCrazy #100Books #AnnouncementsComing
Hop on the Crazy Train for PART TWO of my wild journey…
USA Today Bestselling Author Erin Lee, who also writes as EL George, is a dark fiction/reality author and therapist chasing a crazy dream one crazy story at a time. She is the author of Crazy Like Me, a novel published in 2015 by Savant Books and Publications, LLC, Wave to Papa, 2015, by Limitless Publishing, LLC and Nine Lives (2016). She’s also author of When I’m Dead, Greener, Something Blue, Freak and 99 Bottles. She also penned Losing Faith, a novella with Black Rose Writing. She is co-author of Black Rose’s The Morning After. She is also author of the “Diary of a Serial Killer Series” and “Lola, Party of Eight Series” formerly with Zombie Cupcake Press and now home with Crazy Ink, From Russia, Pretty Bones, Boned, The Ghosts who Raised Me, His Village, Seeds, Resurrection and From Russia, With Love. She is a co-author of the Moving On series, including bestselling The Ranch and Moving On and The Cabin. Other horror and upcoming titles include Pawn Takes All and The Haunt. Other recent titles include the co-write Bella Amore and the award-winning and bestselling six-book Circus Freak Series.
Lee is the founder of Crazy Ink Publishing, a multi genre publisher specializing in multi-genre anthologies for all kinds of crazy. Through this venture, she hopes to give readers and authors alike a taste of other realities and worlds so that they can escape into the words.
Lee holds a master’s degree in psychology and works with at-risk families and as a court appointed special advocate. When she isn’t busy dissecting the human experience, she enjoys escaping from reality through reading and spending time with her muses and canine freak show companions and therapy dogs – Thomas the Terrier and Milo Muse.
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To learn more about Lee’s work, visit www.authorerinlee.com or www.crazyink.org or take a look at her Facebook author page by visiting www.facebook.com/gonecrazytalksoon.
To join her Facebook street team and fan club group, look for the Crazy Inklings group.
Warning: It’s a madhouse in there…
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Follow my journey through the crazy world of indie publishing, writing and growing a business. Here, you'll find news on releases i am excited about, support for other authors through blog tours and blitzes because #Sharingiscaring and more!
Erin Lee, who also writes as EL George, is a USA Today Bestselling multi genre author unafraid to chase the madness. Author of more than 100 titles and creator of Crazy Ink Publishing, LLC, she'll try anything once and never turns down a dare.