Why I Have Quit Publishing-And What I Plan To Do Next

When I self-published my first book in September 2014, I knew that the journey ahead of me would be rough. I knew I wasn’t going to make a ton of money. In fact, I knew I’d likely make near nothing.
 
Here I am in May 2016, and while I’ve come along way, it’s nowhere I would like to be. I’ve gotten some new fans (who have become more like friends instead), and I got the amazing opportunity to be with Booktrope for a year and get other writer friends that way.
 
Despite those things, there are several things I’ve learned that I didn’t know prior to publishing.
 
1. Readers aren’t willing to buy books. That’s not to say ALL readers won’t buy books, but in the instance of me, no one buys my books. I’ve seen many other small authors have this difficulty as well. Most of my sales have come from family and a few friends (including the fans-turned-friends). Most of my sales came from free ebook sales that I did on Amazon (the most recent one gave me close to 700 sales). This was not an issue when I was with Booktrope because I was paying no upfront costs. But now, if I were to be an indie author, this makes it more difficult because I’d be putting more money out than I’d be making (money which I do not have at the moment).
 
2. Most readers don’t write reviews. Despite the amount of times I’ve asked readers to write reviews, they don’t. This creates a problem, because whether readers want to admit it or not, reviews sell books. If you liked the book and want to see it succeed, the best way to do so is to write a review. Even a simple “I loved this book!” would be helpful. I heard someone that 1 in every 25 readers will write a review or something like that. That is not the case for me, and as I know, for many other authors. Out of those 700 free books from the sale I did on Amazon, I’d be shocked to see even one review pop up. That’s not my negativity speaking either. In the past I ALSO did free ebook sales (several times) and have sold a couple hundred books. Didn’t get a single review.
 
3. Marketing is difficult. It’s a lot more difficult than you’d imagine, actually. When you’re trying to promote yourself and your work, you must first start with friends and family. It’s the easiest way to get people’s attention. “Hey, I wrote book!” The problem I’ve encountered, as I’m sure many others have, is that my friends and family (not all, but most) don’t help promote. Which means that I am only reaching the people closest to me, who by the way also aren’t buying my books.
 
There are other ways, of course, such as starting a blog, but my traffic has never gotten me a book sale or even fan. Takeovers on Facebook used to do really well, but over the last six months I’ve noticed takeovers tend to not do so well anymore. It could be due to the fact that so many authors do them now, but it has never gotten me sales, minus a few special times. It rarely gets me new fans. Not like it used to. And finally, there’s always the option of posting in writer’s groups. The issue with that is that writer’s groups tend to be made up of AUTHORS trying to promote their stuff, not READERS looking to read stuff. This creates a problem because everyone just wants to promote their own stuff and not help each other out.
 
As many of you know, I am graduating from high school in June. When I joined the writing industry, I expected it to be fun, and for a while it was. Over time, as it became more of a business, it wasn’t fun anymore. I was trying to figure out how billing works, trying to get others to read my work, and was trying my very best to make at least ONE sale day. It became mentally exhausting.
 
I found Booktrope last year, and for a while, everything was great. I was getting more readers, selling some books, got new covers, a great round of edits from my fantastic editor and proofreaders. Over time, though, something was missing. For while I didn’t realize what it was.
 
What was missing was the fun. The ENJOYMENT of writing. Friends stopped buying my work. Family stopped buying my work. I don’t know why, exactly, and in no way do I blame them. It’s just a recent analysis on my part.
 
Then Booktrope decided to close, creating a huge rift between authors and everyone we’ve worked with. I suddenly owed money to people (money I didn’t have) and the question as to what I can do with my books after My 31st has been overwhelming.
 
The fun is gone. Between starting college in the fall and a shit ton of personal stuff going on in regards to where I’ll be sleeping or where I’ll be going have created more stress than I ever expected. That’s why, from this moment on, I am not going to be publishing any longer. I don’t know how long this will be. Could be a year, could be a few. It’s sad for me to say, because I enjoyed seeing my books in print more than anyone else in the world. I’ve learned hard lessons, done difficult things, and have done more than a lot of people have by my age.
 
But don’t think this is the end of my writing, because it certainly is not. From this moment on, anything I write will be written for free on Wattpad. I’ll build a team of beta readers who will help make the books as best as I possibly can get them (Granted, a downside is that there will be no professional editing due to lack of money–hence why I’m not indie publishing). I want to build my fan base. I want to interact with you all, and even the newcomers I may meet a few months from now.
 
Right now, this is a trial. I’d like to see where this goes. I’d like to see if maybe I can bring the fun back to writing for myself. I really hope that you’ll all stick with me through this journey. As I start college in the fall, I don’t know what will come. Please be patient and just know that I’m not giving up–I’m simply trying something new.
 
I don’t know what this means for my other books, as I’ve yet to figure out the details as to what to do with those, but I am TRYING to get those up on Wattpad as well.
 
You’ve all been fantastic. Let’s hope we can keep it that way. I love you all so much. Thanks for everything. ❤
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Booktrope Closes: An Uncertain Future

Last April, I got accepted by Booktrope Publishing. As one could imagine, I was relieved. Self-publishing had become an extra weight on my that I could no longer bear. At 17, I made a very quick and irrational decision, signing on, having no idea what to expect.

On April 29,2016, every author and team member for Booktrope received and email, letting them know that Booktrope is closing its doors.

Tropers.

We are deeply saddened to share the news that Booktrope will be ceasing business effective May 31, 2016. This decision was not reached lightly and we will share as much as we can with the community over the next few weeks.

When I read the email, I was shocked, but not really. Devastated. Hurt. Angry. But most of all, I was left with a heavy uncertainly hanging on my shoulders, as are so many who are being hurt by the loss of the company. As of May 31st, 2016, all four of my books will be removed from Amazon, no longer accessible to readers.

Due to this, May 3-7, I believe, I am offering all of my books for free. I wish I had an answer as to what’s coming next. I wish I could say that the books will go right back up because I’ll self-publish them, but it’s not that simple.

Booktrope offered me a way. A way to be a student, to meet some amazing people, and to live my dream that I’ve had since elementary school. I’ve grown so much because of them and everyone I’ve met. My teams put so much time and effort into my books that I can never repay them fully enough for.

After graduation from high school in June, I will be starting college in the fall. I’m starting to see that maybe this is a sign that it’s not my time. I wish I had better news, but at the moment, I do not.

I’m not giving up on my dream forever. I could never do that. But right now I’m at a loss for words and ideas, and it’ll take some time and thought to fully come up with a game plan.

I just want all of my friends, family, and most of all, my fans, to know that this is not the end of the line for me. A hiatus, maybe, but certainly not the end. While I do not know about everything else, that is the one thing I am certain of.

I hope to see you guys again soon.

With love,

Alec John Belle

Fear Games Premiere, The Long Road Home Preview

As some of you may have noticed, my presence on Wattpad has been growing the last week. With Fear Games’ premiere last Monday, and posting the first chapter of The Long Road Home as a preview, I’ve been attempting to draw in new readers.

Part of the reason I chose to do Fear Games as an online miniseries on Wattpad is due to the growing popularity of books on the site. The interactions with readers in phenomenal. In fact, many of the readers on Wattpad are kind, dedicated, and optimistic any time their favorite writer adds something new. It is an environment I’m truly happy to be part of now, and I look forward to seeing you there.

You can find the premiere of Fear Games right here.

You can find the first chapter of The Long Road Home right here.

Feel free to subscribe to my page here.

I’ve also been a lot more active on Instagram. You can find me here!

 

The Long Road Home Cover Reveal

The time has finally arrived! The cover reveal for my newest book, The Long Road Home (April 15, 2016) is below!

The Long Road Home Cover

The cover is a bit different than we originally anticipated, but we feel as though it fits the story perfectly. The orange represents Brooke’s life in the past–the monochromatic phase in her life. The colors near the top represent her time in the hospital, looking for a brighter future, hoping to recreate herself and her life.

The closer we get to the release day, the more anxious I get. In the meantime, here’s the synopsis below!

Brooke never meant to survive, hoping that the suicide attempt would end all of her suffering. After years of rejection, pain, and heartbreak, she feels as though she’s not good enough for anyone. Now she’s stuck in a hospital, being forced to take antidepressants and is getting therapy for her issues.

And she hates it until she meets Matt.

Now Brooke must remember the past in order to better her future, while trying to keep her feelings for the new patient in check. In this heartbreaking novel, a young girl will laugh, cry, and fight to find her way home to the one place that’s been ruined one too many times–her own heart.

Are you as excited for the book as I am? Let me know down in the comments and feel free to share this post! I look forward to sharing this story with you.

The Long Road Home Release Date and Party

So I finally have a release date for this book. Even though it’s only been two months, it feels like forever, mostly because I’m super excited–and proud–of this book.

The Long Road Home will be release April 15th, 2016!

Along with that, April 15th-17th, I’m hosting an online release day weekend event on Facebook. There will be lots of authors and bloggers doing takeovers, with lots of giveaways! The event is public, so all you have to do is click here to join.

I look forward to seeing everyone there! I also have a cover reveal party here, so be sure to check it out to be one of the first to see the cover!

Shadow People Wrap-Up Q&A

*SPOILER ALERT FOR SHADOW PEOPLE. DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ IT.*

With Shadow People’s release December 14th, I know people who read it probably have a million questions running through their minds. I’ve seen a few other popular authors do this, and so I decided to do one myself. Below are questions readers may have, and the answers I can provide you with at the current moment. Since this wrap-up post is on Shadow People, be warned that there are SPOILERS. I am telling you this again as a warning, so whatever you read beyond this point is not my fault if it spoils anything. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

1. “If Hayden’s Dad is really a Fallen Angel, wouldn’t he know whether God approves of homosexuality or not?”

I know this is a bit of a touchy subject, but in the realm of The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, there are Angels and then there are Guardians. Angels live in Paradise, but Guardians protect Paradise and have a more personal relationship with God. One might assume that an Angel would know every detail, but similar to humans, they do not. Guardians are who have all the answers of the Universe (and yes, I do mean all) because of their relationship with God. It’s a storyline that’ll play out over the next few books and you’ll learn more about it as the story goes on.

2. “Will we see more of The Council in the future?”

The basic answer to this question is yes, as they rule over the Monster Hunters. I can say you’ll learn part of the reason why everything has been kept a secret in the third book, Fiery Passion. 

3. “Are we ever going to see Kristen’s brother and father?”

Yes, Lucas and Mr. Mason are in Fiery Passion after Lena’s death.

4. “Speaking of Lena’s death, it seemed as though she knew more than she let on prior to being murdered. Will we ever learn what it is that she knew? If so, when?”

This is a bit of an iffy question. The reason I say that is that Lena may not have known as much as you think, or she may have. I left it vague for a reason. We know that she was involved in Heather’s kidnapping, so she obviously knows something in regards to that. Lena is a pawn in a game that she wasn’t really aware was going on. She knows something, it’s just a matter of how much she knows. You’ll find out more in Fiery Passion.

5. “Lena made a discovery about the demon Ziminiar at the end of the book. When will we find out what it is?”

Lena knows who Ziminiar is. She knows this person outside of being a demon, and whether you’ve met this person or not is still a mystery at the moment. This is also a mystery you will uncover in Fiery Passion.

6. “Fiery Passion is supposed to be the end of arc 1. What exactly does that mean?”

As you’ve seen from my previous answers, Fiery Passion answers a lot of the questions that you have. Even more than Shadow People did. The reason why is that there’s an overall storyline that’s been happening in the first three books that will be resolved by the end of the third book. Obviously the series will continue beyond that point, and there may be a couple questions remaining to go into arc 2, but for the most part, the questions that have been formed since Forbidden Darkness will be answered. It’s an exciting time for me because you will finally get to know something I know that I’ve been waiting to share for over a year.

7. “At the end, Kadin and Heather shared a moment. Is this foreshadowing a future love triangles?”

I can’t tell you what exactly that means yet, but I can say that there will be no love triangle. The answer as to who Heather is meant to be with is right in front of you. It’s just a matter of whether you can figure it out.

8. “Kadin matured a lot in Shadow People. Will we see more of him throughout the series?”

Kadin is a character that’s not going anywhere any time soon. In fact, he has a point-of-view in Fiery Passion.

9. “Why must you torture us with cliffhangers?”

I actually really like cliffhangers. I love them in series that I read, and I’m also in love with Pretty Little Liars, which is the Queen of Cliffhangers. So I have a bit of a love for them, which is why I use them. It’s not meant to be a torture mechanism LMAO. It’s just something I enjoy doing for writing purposes.

10. “When can we expect book 3?”

While there is no definite date, it is scheduled for sometime this summer.

Before I Break Holiday/Christmas Sale

Because I’m unable to truly give back to my readers in any way, I decided that this year I would put my debut novel, Before I Break, on sale for free on Amazon once again.

Unfortunately, this only qualifies for e-readers, but for those that have Kindle’s, now’s your chance! I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I look forward to seeing what 2016 holds for my writing and I hope you’ll be there to join me

Here is the link to Before I Break.

THE LONG ROAD HOME Finished

I did it.

Took me two months, but I finally finished this book. There are a few thoughts I’d like to share, because I have to say, this book was an incredible journey for me to write. With that being said, there were a lot of highs and lows creatively throughout this book.

The book’s currently in editing right now, which I’m very proud of. I got some feedback from an early reader today who said that they liked the book and felt the ending was “weird.” There is a reason I’m addressing this, and I’ll tell you why.

I love feedback. In fact, this person’s feedback is probably going to help improve the ending of the book a lot; that is, writing-wise. Do I regret the ending that I gave to the book? Of course not. Do I regret the decisions the characters make at the end? No. I wanted to write a book that was raw, honest, and powerful.

Granted, the ending, especially after the first draft, really needs some improvement. Believe me, first drafts are never pretty. There’s usually some cases of inconsistencies, or hell, even times where a character’s name changes from Clarice to Claire mid-book (yes, this happened in The Long Road Home, and the character’s name is now Claire). My point is, I appreciate my betas because they give me some input on things I may not catch myself, and this girl’s feedback will probably help the writing style of the ending a lot.

Will I change the ending?

No.

Will some fans want the ending to be rewritten?

Maybe. It all depends on the perspective, and that’s okay.

With Before I Break, I was concerned about the ending as well. Heck, I was so scared that I almost didn’t publish it. But I did and the reviews and feedback I’ve gotten in amazing. I don’t regret where my characters end up. They’re real, honest, living characters that deserve to face reality just as much as people do.

Not every story has a happily-ever-after. Life is not a fairy tale. Life’s a journey that needs to be walked, and the characters in The Long Road Home all face a dose of reality.

With that being said, I hope you all do, too.

With love,

Alec John Belle

What’s Next in 2016?

2016 is going to be a big year for me. Aside from writing books, I will also be graduating high school and starting college. I’m looking forward to the next step in my life, and I’m also really looking forward to the books coming out.

Most of my writing will probably be done in the first half of the year, and after some planning, I have three books I plan on releasing next year, one of which I’m already almost done writing.

  • The Long Road Home (Contemporary YA): Brooke never meant to survive. She hoped that the suicide attempt would end all of her suffering. After years of rejection, pain, and heartbreak, she feels as though she’s not good enough for anyone. Now she’s stuck in a hospital, being forced to take antidepressants and is getting therapy for her issues.And she hated it until she met him.Now Brooke must remember the past in order to better her future, while trying to keep her feelings for the new patient in check. In this heartbreaking novel, a young girl will laugh, cry, and fight to find her way home to the one place she’s never really let anyone in–her own heart.

Expected Publication Date: March 2016

  • Fiery Passion (The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, #3): This book has a synopsis, but I don’t plan on releasing it until some time next year, after Shadow People (December 14, 2015) is out. What I can say is that this book will be much darker than the first two books and will focus on some on Heather’s personal relationships.

Expected Publication Date: Summer 2016

  • Untitled (The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, #4): This book is actually not untitled, but since the title is somewhat spoilery, I will not be revealing the title until after Fiery Passion comes out. This will be the end of story arc 1 in The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles.

Expected Publication Date: Winter 2016

As you can see, 2016 is going to be a good year for books, as well as a good year for my personal life. I have no guarantees that this will stay exactly the same, as things come up and can interfere with my writing life, such as this year. I am not making any promises, just goals, and I think that goals are a very good thing.

I look forward to heading into the new year with you and I hope you all come along with me for the ride. 🙂

Surprise Shadow People Excerpt: Chapter One (Heather)

Hello readers!

I have a bit of a surprise for you, and that’s that today I’m releasing the first chapter of Shadow People (The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, #2)! If you have not read the first book, Forbidden Darkness, this chapter may be spoilery, so read at your own risk.

If you like it, please share it around! Shadow People release in paperback and e-book on December 14th, 2015.

ONE

Heather Hawkins

He lunged at me faster than I could blink, and sure enough, I was knocked to the floor as he smashed my face in. Yeah, that was going to hurt in the morning. Trying my best to regain my strength, I flipped my attacker over on his back and he smiled up at me.

You’re getting better,” Philip replied.

I smiled back. “I told you to not go easy on me.”

And of course, he didn’t. Grabbing hold of my hair, he flipped me over his body and managed to stand up. Now I was the one on my back—again—and I was really beginning to feel useless. Yes, he said I was getting better, but he could take me on and win every single time. Getting better and winning were two completely different things.

I stood up and sighed, trying to fix my hair so it didn’t look like the haystack it probably was. Philip stood there, somehow managing to look absolutely gorgeous with his short black hair and piercing green eyes. His smile widened when he saw me trying to compose myself. “I never said we were done.”

You don’t need to,” I shot back, feeling embarrassment sweep through me, but I kept the sarcastic smile on my face. “I’m saying we’re done for the day because clearly I still can’t take you on, so what’s the point in trying?”

His seductive smile fell flat. “You won’t get better if you just give up.”

I don’t get any better by trying,” I said, then added, “but I will. Just give me a little more time.”

I left the training room of the Hideout—an underground hiding place for Kristen, who was my best friend, and her family and friends to train. Kristen, Philip and I were Monster Hunters, and we didn’t fight the type of Monsters you would expect. Actually, I didn’t fight any Monsters at all—yet. Unless you counted Kadin. Speaking of him…

Did you hear back from the Council yet?” I asked. I sat in a comfy chair in the room that sort of resembled a living room of an average house, with a couch, side table, two chairs, and a lamp. Oh, and a looming bookshelf.

Philip sat on the couch, sighing just enough to concern me. Oh no. When he didn’t respond I asked him again. Finally, he said, “Lena did hear back from the Council. They’re coming to the Hideout tomorrow.”

My jaw nearly hit the roof of hell and my heart stopped just a little. I knew this was going to happen. Damn it, why did I have to be so stupid and take on Kadin? “So, does this mean…I may go to…Monster Hunter jail?”

To be honest,” Philip replied, “I haven’t got a clue. Anything is really possible at this point, but the one thing we don’t need to worry about is not having a good case, which Lena will present to them. The fact of the matter is that Kadin is not a Monster, and unless the Council decides to be assholes and consider him one when his species hasn’t even been identified, it’s entirely possible you could face imprisonment.”

This was even worse than I thought. The only good thing that could possibly come from this was that Kadin wasn’t a Monster. In fact, we had no freaking clue what he was and it bothered me. As if that wasn’t enough, Kadin hadn’t visited my dreams since the night I fought him on the tower. To be perfectly clear, he was trying to kill one of my friends and I had to do whatever I could to make sure he didn’t. I knew the Council was going to keep an eye on him, and once I fought him and somehow shot electricity out of my hands, I knew that they were going to try to charge me with something. As a Monster Hunter, it’s illegal for me to fight Monsters when I’m a Level 0. I was finally a Level 1, but I wasn’t when I fought that bastard, and now I was about to pay the price for it.

The Levels were divided up into 4: Level 0 was when you first became a Monster Hunter. After the first week, you automatically advanced to Level 1. Then at Level 2, you were allowed to hunt the Monsters as long as you’ were with a Level 3, which is the most advanced Level. Don’t ask me why the Council wanted to make our lives more complicated than they already were.

Have you heard from Kadin?” Philip asked, interrupting my thoughts as if he could read my mind. God, he was good.

Um, not since that night,” I responded quietly. I don’t know why I sounded disappointed. Maybe it was because Kadin had a lot of answers, and with him gone, all the answers went with him. Kadin might have been a pain in the ass, but he offered a lot of pieces to the puzzle of what was now my life.

Lena’s tried finding out what the Perfect World is, but whatever Kadin’s talking about, it’s not in any of the Monster Hunter books.” Philip pulled out his cell phone to check a text. “Kristen said she’ll be down in a few minutes, by the way.”

I only nodded. Kristen and I, while we were best friends, had been having our problems. The main one revolved around Philip, whom she’d apparently dated in the past. He cheated on her, driving her to a suicide attempt, which led Kadin to her. Kadin controlled Darkness, a physical entity that apparently sucked negative energy out of people, and if strong enough, could physically harm people. If that wasn’t a big enough problem, more stemmed from my growing feelings for Philip, even though I knew he was a cheater. I was truly a terrible person.

The weird thing was, Kristen had told me just about a week ago that I should do what made me happy—but what did? Would Philip really make me happy?

Heather,” Philip interrupted again. “You’re thinking about something. What is it?”

No way in hell was I going to have this conversation. Quickly making something up, I said, “I was just thinking about Kadin and where he might be. There’s no way I managed to scare him off permanently and it’s just odd that he hasn’t even made an attempt to come back.”

Philip chuckled. “You did kind of shoot lightning at him.”

Yeah, don’t remind me, I thought. “I couldn’t even do it again if I wanted to. It kind of just happened. Is that even normal for Monster Hunters?” He didn’t need to answer because I already knew what he was going to say.

No.”

Go figure.

There’s also something I should mention,” Philip said. “You may not like it.”

My insides churned at the thought of whatever might come out of his mouth. “Oh Lord, should I be worried?”

He shrugged. “Um, most likely. You see…the Council is coming tomorrow because Hayden is leaving the hospital tonight.”

Uh oh. I really didn’t like where this was going. “What does Hayden have to do with any of this? I mean, obviously he saw some stuff but—”

Yes, but you, Kristen, and I know otherwise. He was there but he also did something on the rooftop that made the Darkness disappear. When the Darkness tried to get him, you told Kristen and me that it disintegrated. The thing is, we haven’t told the Council, but the Council is checking in on him to make sure he doesn’t expose us. He hasn’t said anything at the hospital, but we don’t know what he’s feeling right now. We have no idea if he’s even really come to grips with what happened.”

Yes, of course the Council was going to want to talk to Hayden. I mean, why wouldn’t they? He was there that evening, but it didn’t make things any better. The Council, the ones who controlled everything in the Monster Hunter world, was coming to see Hayden. Hell, I hadn’t even met them, but from what I heard, I had a right to be afraid.

What will happen?” I asked. “If they decide that Hayden is a threat or will tell someone?”

Philip said nothing.

Philip,” I said in a stern voice. My heart was beating a thousand miles per minute and I couldn’t control my anxiety. “What are they going to do to him if he won’t keep quiet?”

Finally he said, “Well…let’s just say they can make deaths look like an accident.”