At the end of 2020, I realised that my worst fear had come true: I’d burnt out, and this time, it was going to take more than a few days off to recover.
As much as I love writing, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the time, and every time I sat down to write or even just do edits, I couldn’t seem to make any progress. I would make excuses not to do the work (which is very unlike me as I’m quite the workaholic usually) and I kind of wanted to throw all my books away and forget about them.
Looking back, it’s not surprising that this happened. I’d been constantly writing and publishing books for four consistent years, plus meeting back to back deadlines with my publisher. I got to a point where I’d done four books in a row, was presented with even more edits, and kind of just hit my limit.
So I left my publisher and declared that I was taking a year long break.
Did I really need to take a break for a whole year? Probably not—I could have come back quite fresh after six months in hindsight. But I won’t deny that it was nice to have a whole year away and not have to worry about any deadlines or projects or active marketing.
So, what did this full-time author whose whole life and business revolves around writing do in her year long break? Well, I’m about to spill the deets on everything:
1) I Wrote A Secret Book Under A Secret Pen Name
The first thing you need to know about writers is that they simply can’t not write. So when I said I was taking a break, I really meant from my main books and brand. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun with some other ideas I had on the backburner!
I have at least three other book series ideas that I’ve had to postpone while I work to finish my current series’, but I decided to use this break to finally make progress on some of my newer ideas. I was really excited to explore these ideas because they’ve come about in my early 20’s, not while I was still in high school, so they have characters and storylines that are more aligned with my current age.
So, at the same time that I announced I’d be taking a break, I also announced that I’d be creating a secret pen name, to write a secret book, and recording the ENTIRE process in real time! And over the past 14 months, I took every screenshot, video and document and compiled the 12 month process into a 2 hour mini course… and added it to my book launching course for authors as a bonus!
The book is now out, it’s called KINGDOM OF SIRENS AND MONSTERS, and the pen name is Tara Quinn (IG Handle: TaraQuinnAuthor)
P.S: I got the name Tara Quinn from Tarquin, which is what my mum was gonna name me if I had been a boy 💀 (seriously though Mum, WHAT is with all the weird names?)
2) My Business Started Booming
If you know me, then you also know I run a coaching business (Paperback Kingdom) where I help authors to understand the business side of publishing, become better writers, marketers and CEOs of their author brands.
With my energy not spread so thin, I was able to really knuckle down and focus on my business this year. I worked really closely with a coach, focused on simplifying my product suite, and ended up increasing my income by over 300% while simultaneously working less than I ever have before.
At the beginning of the year, I wondered if being an author coach who wasn’t active with their own author brand might pose a problem for potential clients, but it turns out I’ve more than established myself in the industry and proven my worth as a coach in this space, so it never ever came up. Business is thriving, I’ve been able to grow my team, and I’m on track to triple my income again in 2023.
3) I Did SO Much Reading
In previous years, I’ve been hustling too hard and making below minimum wage to show for it, so it never really felt like I had time to do the things I loved to do.
But this year, I decided my first priority would be to spend my weekends doing things for myself again. After all, what was the point of being my own boss and having “time freedom” if I was just going to spend it working 24/7?
So I started reading books again. And I ended up reading about 32 books this year (I’m probably forgetting a few though.) I listened to audiobooks on roadtrips, read late at night, on my days off, in waiting rooms, and pretty much everywhere I could. I forgot how nice it is to get lost in a good book!
4) I Redid My Patreon
After leaving my publisher, my book rights for Starlight Chronicles reverted back to me, but that also means I need to republish the series.
I wasn’t quite ready to do that yet, as I wanted to rewrite the first book and go through another round of edits with the earlier books, so I decided that in the meantime I would put the books on Wattpad and Patreon.
The first three, full-length books are currently available for free on Wattpad (this includes Lanterns in the Sky, Starlight, and Essence of the Angels.)
Meanwhile, the remaining four books will be available via Patreon for just $1/mth. Right now, you can read Starfall and Scattering in the Starlight over there, and I’ll be aiming to add the final two books over the next year or so.
On top of that, I started posting more frequently to Patreon, which means readers aren’t just getting access to books, but exclusive blogs, teasers, insider guides and info, and tons more.
5) I Updated My HP Fanfiction (Finally!)
I have this super popular, Harry Potter fanfiction over on Wattpad that does embarrassingly well. It was originally meant to be a series, but with all my book deadlines and business commitments, I ended up stopping uploads halfway through the second book and left the fanbase hanging for over two years.
I’ve always felt pretty guilty about that, but I didn’t want to half-ass the book when I wasn’t feeling inspired to write it. And to add to my general business, I had conflicting feelings about continuing the series while J.K. Rowling was out here acting like a tool on Twitter.
But eventually, I decided that I am not her, and I owe it to my readers to finish the series. So I surprised them by completing the second book and dropping the remaining half of the book all at once for them to binge.
6) I Got My Social Life Back
I know I sound like a real loser when I say this, but I have very few friends and I rarely get to see them because they all live so far away from me. However, this year, I’m proud to say that I had many outings and lunches with my friends, and I even got invited to not one, but THREE parties (which were a lot of fun!)
I feel like I’ve finally found a work/life balance I can get behind, so I’m very happy I took a year long break and my goal is to keep this balance as I ease back into writing and publishing books for my main author brand. After all, the last thing me or my readers need is another year long burnout.