I hope this doesn't come across as a self-pity piece. It's nothing like that. I don't feel remotely sorry for myself. How could I? I'm one of the luckiest people alive!
Approaching the New Year is always a good time for looking back, and reflecting on the past year. How has your's been? Mine started off really well, with my book sales growing and growing. It seemed I couldn't do anything wrong, and then in August when I launched book eight in the series everything started to go pear-shaped. At around the same time something changed at Amazon, and hundreds of us self-published authors saw our sales fall and our rankings fade….
My master plan has always been to make enough to be able to buy a house in 2 or 3 years and enable my wife Mary to retire with no worries. In July it was beginning to look a distinct possibility, but now in December it seems like a distant dream, and I guess it's now going to take a bit longer! If this had happened to me ten years ago, I would have packed my laptop away and given up. The old, deeply unhappy me, couldn't deal with such disappointment. Fortunately, there's a new me now, and far from seeing this as a disaster, I see it as a challenge. I've had to take a long, hard, look at the way I market my books, and over the last couple of months I've been experimenting with some ideas. As a result I'm ready to start the new year with this new challenge!
So what happened ten years ago that enabled me to change my outlook on life? Looking back now, I can see it was an easy choice to make, but back then when I was deeply depressed I couldn't see any way out. I had spent most of my fifty-three years trying to fit into the little boxes everyone else wanted for me, and I was just about at the end of my tether. I can remember feeling so depressed I went to see my doctor. She offered me anti-depressants, which I refused. At that point she said there wasn't really anything else she could do to help me, but then without realising it, she told me something that really did help me. In fact, it changed everything for me. She said: ‘you're not unhappy because you're depressed, you're depressed because you're unhappy!'
It was just a simple observation, but she had hit the nail right on the head. Using pills could treat the symptoms and might make things seem a bit more bearable, but they wouldn't do anything about the cause of my problem, only I could do that. I remembered some advice a former boss once gave me; ‘when something's not working, it's time for a change.' Well, there was no doubt in my mind, my life wasn't working…
It's not easy to walk away from everything you've known all your life and start again. I got cold feet on more than one occasion, and things would probably have been a lot different if there had been children involved, but there were none. By the time I had sold everything I had, and paid off the huge debts I had run up, I had next to nothing left. But there was no going back. If I had continued as I was I probably wouldn't be here now, that's how bad it was. This was an act of self-preservation.
I had a small van, and I had a friend who was willing to provide me with work. It was time to start over, and that's exactly what I did, and I've never regretted it for a single moment.
Look out for what happened next in the next post to be published next week.