Keeping My Sanity While Launching a Thriller Series by Martha Carr

A little background about me, first to put all of the past few months into perspective. I’ve been a professional writer in some capacity since 1990. First as a journalist, then an author traditionally published with an agent, then a nationally syndicated columnist and now an indie author. There was a brief stint where I tried blogging but quickly left that to others to conquer.

I’m like a human timeline for the modern evolution of a career as a writer.

That means I’ve been writing since just before the internet was born, since before a lot of other authors I talk to were born. I’ve been writing so long that I had to go back and put a year at the beginning of my first novel, Wired so readers wouldn’t wonder why I didn’t mention cell phones. They weren’t around yet.

My novel had become retro, I suppose along with me. I’m hoping the millennial crowd thinks that’s cool.

This brings me to a point that I have had to keep returning to for myself, which on some days I don’t really like but is vital to not only keeping my sanity while pursuing this profession, but to having some fun as well.

Do I want to keep doing it if this is as good as it gets? If I don’t progress financially, if there aren’t more readers do I still want to devote weekends and nights to writing? You see, I have a regular day job these days. I came in from the financial cold and became a corporate editor and I have to tell you, getting a direct deposit every two weeks and carrying around an insurance card is kind of sweet. But everything has sacrifices and now, mine is time.

If I can still say, yes, I want to do this, then I keep going, and so far that’s the answer but this brings me to the second question I have to continually answer, and particularly in the indie world, and particularly these days.

Am I willing to stay open to new ideas, new social media, new ways to promote? Considering things come and go every month when marketing an indie series, it can be a lot of willingness. A continual steep learning curve that only levels out for moments in time, never on any kind of permanent basis.

If I want to build a solid foundation as a thriller author, then that one’s going to have to be a yes. The last step is to drop the angst and get back to all of it. It’s impossible to write a good, twisted story and market the living daylights out of it while carrying fifty pounds of ‘why me’ around at the same time.

So, here’s what the past few months have been like for me as a retrofitted indie author. First, I took two novels that were part of the Wallis Jones series that I had tried to self-publish with no success and asked a lot of other authors to critique their covers, blurbs and story.

Story line passed muster and even got rave reviews. That’s where the good news ended. The covers were vague, the blurbs were vague and too many people even asked if the genre was paranormal. Made me wonder about my personality and if I was trying to disappear or something.

Got new covers done, wrote new blurbs, came up with better titles, and took a lot of notes on marketing. All to get ready. Split the first book into two because the general consensus from readers and authors was that was too long. Wrote two more books to start and released The List Conspiracy on December first of last year and book two, The Traitor’s Revenge on December 8th, and The Keeper on December 31st and The Circle Rises on January 9th. Book Five, The Watchers’ Revolt will be out on January 31st and then there’s one more book to go in the series.

While writing Book Five I was diagnosed with cancer for the fifth ‘effin’ time and had an operation and bing, bam, boom I went back to writing. Finished the book on time, by the way, despite a few days with a long, dull headache. A few extra minor characters may have died in that one and thank goodness I write thrillers. Amazing therapy at times.

So far, the books are making a weirdly steady $17 a day or $6,205 a year. Not blowing off the doors but not bad either. The reviews are growing and the only two reviews that dinged the series said they didn’t like that the whole thing wasn’t wrapped up in book one. Well, it’s a series.

I’ve also, finally, started an ARC team and we meet on a private page on Facebook, stopped writing so much in every newsletter, have traded shout outs in newsletters with other authors, and run a few successful Instafreebie campaigns, along with one Amazon giveaway now that all of the books are in Kindle Unlimited.

It’s felt like a long march at times but the only reason it has was because on some days my own expectations got in my way. That’s why I wanted to write this piece. I know how hard it can be on some days to wonder if I’m doing the right thing spending so much time, and it is a cost, doing something that may always be a sideline, never the main event. Today, it’s more than worth it. Tomorrow, I’ll ask the questions again and let you know.

I am the author of nine books, including the Wallis Jones series, a six-part thriller series that starts with The List Conspiracy. The entire series is available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

carr                             list

I’ve written a weekly, nationally-syndicated column on world affairs and life that has run on such political hotspots as The Moderate and Her work has run regularly in such venerable publications as The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune and Newsweek. And, I always love a good story that makes my heart race and keeps me guessing. Thank you to all the thriller authors out there thinking up some twisted plot that will linger in my brain long after the story is over.

12 thoughts on “Keeping My Sanity While Launching a Thriller Series by Martha Carr

  1. Martha — great story, and what tenacity. I think that in the end, a positive view and belief in yourself and your abilities always gets you where you want to go. Plus you beat cancer five times so I think that makes you like, a superhero. Thanks for the honest and enlightening post. pjl

    1. I’ve learned to be honest – even when that voice in my head says, oh no, maybe not that. Keeps the stress levels down that way. Then I write thrillers and can go work out the rest of the angst in a good conspiracy. 😉 In the end, life in general for me is way too good not to be grateful

    1. Thanks Vicki! And thank you for all you do for both authors and readers. Love being able to connect with fans of the Wallis Jones series – often that’s when I find out what I wrote is really all about!

    1. Boy, Cynthia has there been a lot of reinventing! It’s ongoing – and I’m learning so much, which has brought a lot of curiosity back into my writing.

    1. Thank you! Hope you get a chance to check out the Wallis Jones series too. I’m busy writing the last book in the series and saying goodbye to some characters I’ve spent a lot of time with.

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