I write under several pen names. Some of my pen names even have pen names. (Like, for example, I write my young adult gay romances under the name “Dylan James”, which is the YA-friendly pen name for “Cameron D James”, which is in itself a pen name.)
Altogether, my bibliography, ranging from a few magazine articles, to a crap-ton of short stories, to full-length novels, comes out at 103 publications. I’ve got two more books pretty much ready-to-go and I’m in the planning stage for perhaps a dozen more projects, again ranging from short stories to full length novels.
For me, sometimes writing and publishing can be a revolving door of projects. I finish one and I quickly move on to the next. Often I hit the “publish” button with little fanfare, really doing not much more than simply sharing it in my newsletter.
I treat writing like a job — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that I sometimes lose the joy in all of this. I’m so focussed on getting my next project done and out so that I can move onto the project after that — and I sometimes forget to look at the milestones I’ve accomplished or to celebrate the joy of a book well-received.
(As well, it might be because of this sometimes lack of joy on my part that leads to very little fanfare on social media and very few reviews. I used to think it’s because I don’t flog my books. But now I think it’s that I don’t celebrate the joy of my books, so few people in turn celebrate that joy on my behalf.)
Last week was the publication of my first young adult romance novel, Gay Love and Other Fairy Tales. This was really a risk for me. Well, not a risk, but certainly a step outside of what I normally do.
For one, there’s no sex in a young adult novel. (Well, big publishers can sometimes get away with implied sex, but as a small press or an indie author, that’s a no-go for YA books.) It’s been years now since I’ve written something that didn’t include at least one fully explicit sex scene. It was … unusual.
It was also the book that we chose to launch my publishing company’s young adult imprint with — so it was the first book for Deep Hearts YA. If the book is a flop, then the publishing imprint gets off to a very weak start. It’s not impossible to recover from, but it can be challenging.
It’s also a brand new start for a brand new pen name — Dylan James. While it’s loosely tied to Cameron D. James, it is still separate. I had to build a platform in a matter of weeks without relying on my Cameron D. James clout — though I did try to flex that clout whenever I could.
Understandably, I was quite nervous about this book.
So it was with this book that I finally slowed down … finally re-discovered the joy of writing and publishing.
I got my first review the other day — five stars — and I’m currently on two top-100 lists on Amazon (teen LGBT romance and teen LGBT fiction). While of course reviews ride on the strength of the book, I can’t help but wonder if some of the success is due to me being joyful about the book. I talk about it on my Dylan James Twitter and I post about it on my Dylan James Instagram — I talk about it more than I usually talk about my books.
I think I need to do this more often.
I’ve also been talking a lot (especially on here) about my upcoming book New York Heat. I’m joyful about that one too. I’m excited to get it out and get people to read it. I haven’t felt this joyful about writing and publishing for a few years now. This is new. I like it.
I think I want to make this joyful attitude a regular thing. I should be excited about my writing and my books. Really, I am, but I need to show it more. If people can see I’m excited and joyful, hopefully they’ll feel the same. And that can only lead to good things.
Cameron D. James is a writer of gay smut. His upcoming publication is the (surprisingly smut-free) gay YA romance, Gay Love And Other Fairy Tales, under his YA pen name, Dylan James.