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. ❤

My 3 Day Experience With Grindr and Hornet

Over the last three days, something has been eating away at me. Something that I need to get off my chest.

As many of you probably already know, Grindr and Hornet are two gay dating apps, which help locate people around you. While they are similar, both have slightly different features. For example, with Grindr, you can only have one picture. Half the time messages you receive are from people that have no picture at all. This can be challenging when trying to decide who is real and who isn’t. Hornet, on the other hand, allows you to post up to 4 pictures, and then 4 private pictures (which probably consist of exactly what you’re thinking). This makes Hornet seem more like a hookup site than a dating site, considering most guys will offer up their private pictures without even talking to you first.

I started using Grindr and Hornet both a few days ago. I knew it was going to have some ugliness to it, but I figured some people might actually be there for the same thing I am. Dating. Unfortunately, that turned out not the be the case.

Over the last three days, I’ve seen that there are several types of guys on these apps.

  1. The guy that messages me, seeming normal at first, then quickly turns it into a sexual conversation to try and get in my pants.
  2. The guy that messages me asking for sex right away without even introducing himself.
  3. The guy that plays it cool, pretends like he wants to be friends, acts semi-normal, and then out of the blue blocks me.
  4. The guy that pretends he wants a relationship and then suddenly stops talking.
  5. The guy that will play it cool for a little while, tells me how amazing I seem, and then blocks me.
  6. And finally, the guy that genuinely seems interested but I never hear from again.

I know for a fact that I can’t be the only one who has this issue. But my question is then, where are the others like me?

I stand by the gay community in a lot of ways. I always will. We’re a struggling group, trying to find acceptance in a lot of places. But riddle me this: How come we expect acceptance from straight people when we act like this to each other? We’re feeding into exactly what straight people think about us by doing the things we do on these sites to one another.

I understand that many gay men have given up, and use these sites as a last resort for sex. And in no way am I insinuating the entire community is like this (*cough* Me *cough*). I know for a fact they are not. But in situations like this, it makes it harder for me to believe in this concept of love. If I can’t find someone in the real world and certainly can’t find someone online (which is where many gay men have sadly turned to), where am I supposed to find it?

I believe as a community, we need to make it stop. It hurts me to see the way we hurt each other, pretending that none of us have feelings. We’re humans, not sex toys. We’re not things that we can just throw away. If we don’t want society to treat us badly and toss us away, we should probably work out the issues going on in our own community first.

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

For the First Time in Years, I Am Wearing Short Sleeves

For the last couple years, I have always worn long sleeves and hoodies. It’s not like I dislike them, but sometimes in the summer and spring it can be a challenge considering how hot it gets. For some reason, just about two months ago, I’ve broken out of my shell and started wearing short sleeves again.

Interestingly enough, covering my arms became such a usual thing because I was trying to cover my scars that I almost never thought about it. As time went on, I never had to think about doing it; I just did. But for some reason, starting about two months ago, I suddenly started wearing short sleeve shirts again. And to my surprise, I barely even realized I was doing it.

When I noticed, I got worried. Could people see my scars? Could they see that I used to self-harm? The concern went away after about a week and I’ve been doing it more often. Of course, some people think I’m doing it for attention, when in actuality, I’m not. I’ve grown as a person over the last two years, and even within the last two months, I’ve grown. I’m learning to accept it, and that scars are something I’ll always have to deal with. I can’t glamorize it and say that I’m a “tiger who earned my stripes,” but I can see where the saying comes from. In a strange way, it shows just how far I’ve come. I am no longer doing that to myself. The fact that I almost forgot they existed is a very good sign.

If I could go back in time, I’d definitely not self-harm. Unfortunately, I can’t rewind time, but I can say this: If you’re self-harming, trust me when I say this. You’re going to regret it someday. It can be hard to adjust once the regret kicks in, but hopefully you’ll be able to move forward. Don’t be ashamed of who you used to be. Be motivated to move forward and be a better you. Your scars and your past doesn’t define you.

Your present defines you. And I’m going to continue looking to the future while living in the present, proudly wearing short sleeves in the summer. I am no longer ashamed. And you shouldn’t be either.

Love yourself. Be strong.

Helping Others When Unable to Help Yourself

Helping others has been something I’ve always enjoyed doing. Even so, sometimes it has been harder to help myself, and there are times when I can’t even take my own advice.

When it comes depression, it kicks my ass. It’ll go away for a little while and then come back and beat me from behind, knocking me face first into a pile of crap. When others are depressed, I always want to make them feel better. I want them to enjoy life and all the possibilities there are. I want them to stay positive, look at the bright side of things, and keep pushing on. I’ll tell them to do things they enjoy, taking their mind off the bad stuff in their life.

When my depression settles in, it’s not that easy, and I know many others feel the same way. I can give others all the advice in the world, but then it comes down to me and whether I want to end my life, I just can’t get myself to do the same things I offer to others.

I’ve always had the biggest heart. As much as I say I hate people, I actually don’t. I want them to not be assholes. I want them to love life, and love others, and more importantly, love themselves.

Over the last few years, I’ve grown so much as a person, it’s hard to believe that I’m still me. I’ve learned to cope with my feelings, and have learned that despite my depression constantly coming back, I can live my life. I can appreciate life for what it is, and while I still struggle every once in a while, my main goal for the future is to help those dealing with similar issues. Being an advocate for suicide prevention is something I’ll always be proud of.

On the Seventh Day

I wrote a short story today. I hope you all enjoy it!

***

The bright blue sky is illuminated by the sun hanging high. I run through the field of paper flowers, folded perfectly into shape, each a different shade of the rainbow. A cool breeze brushes against my skin and I lift my face to the sky, inhaling the aroma of leaves from the trees around me.

“Perfect,” I whisper to myself. Everything was just perfect. Everything I ever wanted, everything I ever desired, was at my fingertips. I was free.

The clouds in the sky looked like large chunks of cotton candy, floating endlessly.

After a few moments of enjoying my peace, a boy came over to me. He couldn’t have been any older than twelve, with his babyface glowing in the sun.

“Hello,” I said to him.

“Hello,” the boy replied kindly, but I sensed a bit of sorrow lingering in the back of his throat. “I’ve been sent to show you something. Something you really need to see.”

“And what is that?” I asked.

“What you see if not perfection,” the boy explained. “Ill be back tomorrow. For today, focus on your surroundings. What do you see?”

Before I could answer, he vanished. For the rest of the day, I focused on the Earth around me. I didn’t understand what he meant–everything here was perfect.

On the second day, the boy came again. “Look at the sky,” he told me. Then he vanished.

I did as he asked, yet it still made no sense. The sky was bluer than it ever had been, and the cotton candy clouds continued to float about.

On the third day, the boy returned. “Run through the land. Take in the sight, sounds, and smells.”

I did as he asked. I ran through the flowers, trees, and grass, feeling the happiest I ever had.

The fourth day arrived, and the boy said, “When night falls, stare at the stars and the moon. Notice the difference between night and day, the sun and the moon.”

Without question, I spent the evening staring at the sky, the stars shining so bright, it felt as if someone was watching over me.

The fifth day came, and the boy smiled sadly at me. “Only one more day till you understand. Spend the fifth day at the lake, swimming and enjoying the peace.”

I did so without asking why, feeling the freshness of the water against my cheeks.

When the sixth day came, I said to the boy, “What do you mean this is not perfect? Everything so far has been. Is there something I’m missing?”

The boy needed.

“Today, enjoy the company of people around around you. Your family, your friend, and even those who don’t know you. Talk to them, spend time with them. Meet the love of your life. Have children. Grow old with them.”

He disappeared before I could protest. In my entire six days since I’d been here, I hadn’t seen a single soul. I was all alone.

On the seventh day, the boy came back. “How did your final task go?”

“I couldn’t do it,” I said. “Why not?”

“Because you never gave yourself a chance,” the boy replied. “One week ago, you killed yourself, wiping away all possibility of life getting better. You can’t go to college. You can’t get a spouse or have children. A family is no longer in your reach. You’ll never see your family.” He wiped away a tear and said, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Before I could beg for my life back, the boy vanished, leaving me all alone. For the first time in seven days, I realized what I’d lost. Everything. Suicide didn’t make it better. Nothing could ever get better.

On the seventh day, I wept.

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!

 

Fear Games Horror Serial Drama Announcement

So many of you have seen me making posts about something called Fear Games that I’ve been working on. I’ve been holding off on making an official announcement, but now is the time!

Fear Games is a story I originally came up with in fifth grade. From there, it’s sat in my head and taken on a new life. Last year I tried to revive it on Wattpad, but unfortunately, because life got in the way, I was never able to finish it.

In the coming weeks, I will hopefully have a bigger update for you. As of right now, all I have is the synopsis for the serial drama.

Rachel never thought her past would catch up to her. 

When she and her friends are invited to a new haunted house on Halloween, she expects it to be a night of fun. Before she has a chance to realize what she’s gotten herself into, her friends begin dying at a rapid pace. Someone is after them. Someone out for blood. Someone out for revenge.

As Rachel races to find the truth, she learns that the reason for these murders may be connected to her in a way she never expected. Will she be able to find the killer in time before they make their own move on her? Or will everything she ever loved come crashing down around her? 

With this story, I am going to be doing something a bit different. Each of the new episodes of this serial drama (written as 12 different short stories) will be published through Wattpad so they will be available to everyone for free. Once the series is all done, if fans want physical copies, I will pursue publishing it.

The first episode is titled “Let the Games Begin,” but unfortunately this is all the news I have at the moment. I look forward to giving you more news in the future!

Why I Never Had Boy Friends Growing Up

Ever since I was a little kid, I rarely had boy friends. In fact, the only guy friend I’ve ever really had was my best friend, which in itself is pretty ironic.

I would say the main reason for my lack of boys as friends was because I was gay, but I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Obviously that was a huge part of it, and most guys never wanted to play with me as a child, and still to this day don’t want to hang out with me. Even so, I wish I could say that it was entirely their fault, but it’s not that simple either.

When I was in elementary school, boys never wanted to have anything to do with me (with the exception above). I was gay, awkward, and quite frankly, afraid of them. I was bullied a lot and it made it really difficult for me to even pursue the nice boys as friends. In middle school, things slowly began to shift, except a few bullies and the one time I got jumped by a group of guys. Because of these things, I was terrified of being friends, even though I was attracted to them.

When I started high school, I started to befriend a few, but those went out the window within a few months. Now, as a senior getting ready to graduate in three months, I have almost no boy friends and I really don’t have a definitive answer.

One of the reasons is likely the lack of commonality. A lot of guys enjoy things like sports and working out (not saying all, just in general), and then here I am with my books. Another reason, I hate to say it, is probably because I’m gay. Many guys I’ve met in high school are still really immature. They do say females mature faster than males, which is possibly another reason as well. I want true friendships and often guys I come across don’t want that, and instead, just want things I can’t really offer.

There’s one big difference between elementary/middle school me and high school me: Lately, I’ve wanted guy friends. I want guy friends that won’t treat me differently because I’m gay. I want guy friends that I can talk to and connect with. I want to feel like I am accepted by people of my own gender. Maybe it’ll happen someday, but I’m way more willing now. Sure, I’m turned down, and sure, it’s not easy. Maybe adulthood will come with wider territory for me to travel and I can finally make some guy friends that will accept me for who I truly am and won’t ask me to change. Not in the slightest.

My Depression Relapse

Over the last couple days, many of you have probably noticed that I’ve not been myself. There are a few reasons for this, but one of the biggest reasons is that somehow, somewhere over the last few weeks, my depression has resurfaced.
 
A lot of you know my story–why I left high school originally, why I left home, and why I’m now attending public high school again. Many of you also do not know, and that’s okay. Some things don’t necessarily need to be shared publicly, so I won’t.
 
What I will say is this: I don’t know how long this depression will last. When you’re in that state of mind, it can be extremely hard to pull yourself out. A lot of you I’ve known since my freshman year, so you’ve seen my struggles, my healing, and my growth. Now, as I’m meeting new people, exploring new things, and getting ready to graduate in a few months, everyone who’s met me recently doesn’t know my past. They don’t know the things I’ve been through, the pain I’ve felt, or how I worked so very hard to get myself out.
 
Depression is a serious thing. It’s part of the reason why I wrote The Long Road Home, because it’s important for people to understand it’s a real mental illness that affects millions, including myself.
 
So what does this mean? I’m not sure. I don’t know what I need to do to get myself back to where I was, because once inside this hole, it can be a challenge to get myself out. But what I want you all to know–fans, friends, and family–is that I’m not giving up. Some days it may be difficult to wake up in the morning and deal with certain things. Some days I may feel better than others. Some days it may be hard to see a future, because the fog of depression is clouding my mind. But as ALL of you know, I’m not a quitter. I’m not someone who’s going to lay down without a fight, or someone who’s going to, “Screw it, I’m done.” I’m going to keep fighting, stay strong, and hopefully I’ll be able to get back to where I was.
 
A lot of things seem to be having an affect on me lately. Being at a new school. Making new friends. Getting new crushes. Getting ready to graduate, not knowing where my life is going to end up. It’s been an experience, and while those things can be good, they can also have a negative affect on me. I’ve always been in this weird state of liking people, yet hating them. Wanting to be with people, yet wanting to be alone. Wanting to have a future, yet wanting to give up.
 
All I ask is that as fans, friends, and family, you do not give up hope for me, just like I’m not giving up hope myself. As much as I hate to admit it, I NEED friends right now. I need help, and I know I do.
 
But I also want YOU to not give up on yourself, just like I’M not giving up hope. As much darkness is in your life, or as much as you may be going through, you can make it out. There is hope. Life is a journey, and it’s most definitely worth living. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and all the stuff in between.
 
To all the people who’ve stood by me, I love you and appreciate it very much. You’re more important then you may think.