On Vampire Revolution & Writer’s Block

I’ve got the first 30,000 words of Book 4 already written, but those need to be fleshed out, and by the time I’m done with them they should actually cover the first 2/3rds of the novel. I originally set out to write a trilogy, and began to panic as ‘The End’ of Book 3 receded before me like some desert oasis mirage. The more I wrote, the more the plot unfolded, and it was only when I was about 35,000 words over the mark that I decided (with a friend’s timely advice) to cut Book 3 into two, and make it a tetralogy.

So. The first third/two thirds is done, and all I need to do now is start from the beginning, work my way through each chapter, and finish the sucker up. For somebody who’s written entire novels before in a month (Books 1 & 2 in The Human Revolt being a case in point), you would think this would be easy. That I would have Book 4 wrapped up by the end of September, edited by the end of October, and published come November 1st.

There’s a problem though.

I’m facing a bad case of writer’s block. Facing? Wallowing. Drowning, even. I’ve got no motivation. No desire. I don’t even sit at the keyboard and stare at a blank screen before getting up in disgust – more like I don’t even sit down to begin with.

At first it was just plain burn out. I’d written over 300,000 words in about three or so months at the end of 2012, and also created my Kickstarter video and project and launched it successfully. Following that massive creative phase, I was just gutted going into 2013. Scraped thin like the rind of a papaya once all the flesh is gone. That then morphed into a melancholic disappointment after I launched Book 1. Because nothing much happened. A handful of people read it, and then it stopped selling. In fact, by that point all my books had stopped selling. I was doing worse going into my third year than at any point outside my first couple of months as a self-published author. But I told myself things would change when I published Book 2, which I did around May–and again, after a few initial sales, everything petered out.

Still, I forged on. Edited Book 3, planned a big promotion for the launch, and sent it out into the world. And lo! The promotion worked! For a week the copies were flying off the shelves. And then, when the promotion ended, so did the sales. Today, about a month later, sales have stopped again.

It feels like shoving a car with no wheels through the snow. If you put your shoulder to it, you can force it forward a couple of yards, but as soon as you stop shoving, so does the car.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some truly wonderful responses from readers. People have written some heartfelt and touching emails and Facebook posts, which have felt like flashes of light in an otherwise silent and dark cave. But these are isolated, and few and far between.

Which leaves me in a strange place. My original burnout has deepened under the weight of my frustration. After a year of intense, backbreaking work, I’ve received some wonderful reviews, and that’s it. Of course I know I should finish Book 4. And publish it. And hope for the best. But at this point, I’ve got little faith that the pattern won’t repeat itself. I’ve got 8 books out there, and none of them are selling. How much difference will a 9th make?

So that’s where I’m at. Writer’s block, frustration, burnout, and disillusionment. Something’s missing. Is it the writing itself? The reviews have been mostly positive. Is it the covers? Sophie’s art is stunning, but maybe it’s not appealing to readers? Is it the back copy, or my lack of constant promotion, or…?

I don’t know. After three years of publishing, I’m at an all-time low. I know I’ve got to keep on trucking. I know I’ve got to keep on publishing, and some day soon, maybe the good luck fairy will kick me a break. But right now? It’s tough.


  1. Marianne Fiero says:

    Hey Phil, step away from your writing desk for a couple of months, take a vacation … to to an amusement park, so something other than writing … we all get hat way with our jobs, not writer’s block but burnout, had to leave nursing twice in my 25 years .. one time it was for a year and then I worked a totally different job .. and another time it was for just a couple of months ….work at something else … go volunteer at an animal shelter .. whatever floats Your boat and get You to think of something else ….and when it is time to go back to writing … You will know it … just like I knew it was time for me to go back to working as a nurse …. just my 2 cents worth … it is what it is … this too shall pass. Respectfully Yours, Marianne

  2. Hi Phil, First I want to say you are a really good story teller. Secondly, technologies are the best a fourth story should really be a quick update on how the char as characters are doing. Pricing is also a factor you would be surprised how many people would buy $.99 books, or check into how to have your books read through an Amazon lending book, I am sure decent money can be made that way. Also, readership can improve if women and girls start to see this character as strong and confident , she needs to make a plan and start running things instead of being at the mercy of everyone and sorry to save she deserves and equally strong male hero to emerge that has her back with a happily ever after ending. I would be willing to bounce ideas with you as that could possibly help you with the block. When you write for the love of the story often times the money will follow. You really need to wrap this story up because nothing makes people stop reading your works like not finishing a story people have invested their time into following. Good luck.

  3. Technologies was triologies, it flipped somehow.

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