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Why I Wrote My First Romance Novel

Writing a novel was never a dream of mine.

Reading and writing: I enjoyed. But creating my own story from scratch and turning it into something publishable seemed like something that was better suited for other people—people who had that desire to build their own worlds and see them unleashed.

Meanwhile, I just wanted to get through life with my dog.

I have been working in the same industry for a little over ten years now (Internet marketing). While I enjoyed it when I first started (first real adult job! making real money! get to pay down my student loans!), the work can be quite monotonous and boring after a while. And I realized I had no desire to improve my skills or learn more about the industry. I was just going through the motions.

It wasn’t how I wanted to live my career. I wanted to be proud of what I was doing. While the job gave me a steady paycheck, I hated talking about my work with people at social gatherings. Most people have heard of SEO and have a vague idea of what it entails, but when I start describing it, you can see the moment their eyes glaze over. Who wants to hear about algorithms and PPC when you’re at a wedding reception?

The thought of spending the rest of my life working in Internet marketing made me want to shrivel up. The thought of anything related to Internet marketing made me want to escape to the jungle or get eaten by wolves. I didn’t have any motivation to get up in the mornings and the majority of my days were spent counting down until 6 p.m. when I could escape from the office.

Definitely not a healthy way to live your life.

So I started looking for ways to tap into my creative side. Writing has always been a natural part of my life. I started keeping a journal when I was in fifth grade (after I'd gotten my first pet, a rabbit—I wanted to track his daily activities and so began my foray into journal writing) and continued journaling into adulthood.

I also did freelance book editing on the side for a few years after college. My original goal was to work for a publishing house in NYC. That didn’t work out. At all. You either need solid connections right off the bat (i.e., your mother is the senior VP of MacHachette-RandomSchuster) or else you must be willing to hustle for months/years just to get an unpaid internship (after already graduating from college!).

There was no way I was going to eke out a living in a shoebox in NYC without a safety net.

But the dream remained. I imagined myself working as an editor for my favorite authors, spending my days poring over manuscripts and helping writers polish their stories.

Then, in 2019, I came across an article about a woman who was making a hefty side income writing romance novels and self-publishing them on Amazon. Suddenly, things clicked. I started lurking on r/eroticaauthors and r/romanceauthors subreddits and was surprised to find that a good amount of people were making decent money on the side as romance authors—some even earning full-time incomes.

This seemed like something I could do. Although I had never been interested in writing my own novels, I figured I could teach myself and do the whole self-publishing thing. There wasn’t much to lose, except maybe my time—and I was willing to sacrifice that for something that could get my spirits up.

It wasn’t until 2021 that I got serious about writing romance.

I started out writing erotica. I had a couple M/F stories drafted, but I wasn’t feeling them. I had trouble connecting with my own characters and their situations. Then I came across an M/M erotic short—and was immediately hooked. It was so much more interesting! And I have no idea why! (This phenomenon of women reading M/M is a topic for another blog post.) I read a heap ton of other M/M erotic stories after that and decided—this is it. I’m doing M/M.

So I wrote a bunch of short gay erotica and sent them into the Amazon ether. It wasn’t until I published my sixth short that I started to gain traction. That was the story that got me the most sales and page views. I got into the Amazon Top 100 of Erotic Literature and Fiction (ranking higher than Sylvia Day's Bared to You audiobook!) and got my first written review. Small potatoes, but I was on cloud nine!

I wrote three more shorts after that until I decided to call it quits on erotica. Writing erotica was fun and I loved the experience, but it requires you to churn out stories on a weekly basis to stay relevant. A month after my “bestselling” short was published, its rankings started to dip and it got sucked into the void.

By this time, I had a better idea of how publishing on Amazon worked and how to analyze the market and the rankings. I was ready to start writing romance—which can provide more long-term readership. I lurked again on the r/romanceauthors subreddit, read an inordinate amount of gay romance books on Amazon, and got a handle on what readers expected.

Then I got started on my first romance novel. I knew that I wanted to continue writing gay romance. So I turned one of my ideas for an erotic short into a full-length story.

Writing a novel was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I had something to look forward to after my day job. I had a secret side project that was stimulating my formerly dormant creativity. I was no longer a zombie in the evenings, turning my brain off to scroll through random websites or watching Netflix (although nothing wrong with that—we all need to veg out sometimes!).

Update 2023: I've enjoyed developing and writing novels so much that I'm now transitioning to ghostwriting for authors of all genres, and I'm very excited!


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