Book Releases, Elle Says Stuff

Two new books, lots of thoughts, and the future

Whoops, I had two books come out since my last post.

  • PRODIGY is a novel about a surly genius AI programmer who takes on a project to perfect a sex bot, which includes a wunderkind live-in assistant that he eventually falls for.
  • OF BONES & TWILIGHT is a novella full of rural magic and smut and cross-country travel. (AKA Elle imagines a story where RDR2 has more gay witches and beast men)

These might be the last books I self-pub for 2021 and I have some thoughts on that. Okay, a lot of thoughts.

I’m still pretty green to self-publishing, much less the queer writing community as a whole. Gotta say, self-publishing is absolutely terrifying! And I’m saying that as someone who can do everything from the ground up—the writing, of course, but the book design, cover, promotion attempts, etc.

I’ve never felt as vulnerable as I did when my first book released. I could see from the KDP reports that it was being read, that people had bought it, but when a few ratings trickled on Goodreads, I had that moment of “oh shit OH SHIT WHAT I AM I DOING I CAN’T HANDLE THIS.”

Thankfully that feeling has died down considerably, and I just wanted to talk about some of the things contributing to that, among other thoughts I have at this point in my writing process.

1) I set up my Twitter writing account in November 2020, right about the time I had done exactly enough research on self-publishing to say, “Shit, I can do this.” From there I just sort of binge-followed authors whose books I enjoyed or whatever suggestions Twitter threw at me.

Somewhere between my first book coming out in February and working on the next three that were scheduled to release by June, some priorities in my personal life began to shift. I started having a lot of inward questions about my gender presentation, which is in no small part due to the fact that my day job has had me working from home since mid-March 2020. I realized not having to put on business casual clothes, with the added pressure of also applying makeup, was actually a huge relief. That only contributed to further internal dialogues with myself—namely, I no longer felt comfortable being perceived as a woman, or feminine in any way. I’m convinced writing from male perspectives absolutely played a role in this mindset and that’s definitely a blog post for another day.

The realization that I was trans realigned me to start following more loudly queer writers. And in the midst of all that, I can say as of writing this that I feel like I’ve found a nice little corner of writer twitter that feels like “my folks.” This has skyrocketed my confidence in my writing. And now I’m eager to write more transmasc perspectives—out of personal desire and affirmation, as well as the need for more transmasc voices in the writing market.

2) I’ve mentioned on other posts about how releasing four books in the span of six months started with more of a clerical error on my part. But you know what? I fucking did it. When I load up my Amazon author page and see those four books next to each other, I feel a huge spectrum of emotions—pride, confidence, terror, elation.

But most of all, I feel relieved. Because I’ve spent the first half of 2021 hustling to meet these self-imposed deadlines and now I can take several steps back and breathe. I stand by the work I published, but there were several instances where I wished I had more time. Maybe as writers we never really shake the feeling that we always could have done more for a book, done better by a story, but the crunch absolutely didn’t help in that regard.

When I set my three WIPs up for pre-order, they were mostly fleshed out in how I wanted them to go. But I overestimated my ability to give appropriate focus to what I needed to. One example: NOCTURNE’S THRALL had more interior book design, and I wanted that for my other books, but there wasn’t much time to play around with that when it came down to it. It took all I had just to get them all formatted into EPUB in time for AMZN’s pre-order submission deadline.

There’s a reason people take years to write books—you need that breathing room.

And next time I am FOR REAL not submitting something to KDP until the draft is complete.

3) It took these four books for me to realize where I want to stand in this amorphous writing community. Trad pub doesn’t interest me at this time; I am simply having too much fun doing what I want, and I especially do not want trad pub to be a barrier to more trans voices in the market. Do I wish I had the marketing and promotional smarts to flip my books to a wider audience? Of course. But I also bask in any attention I do receive. Reviews trickling into AMZN and GR feel sincere. I have no idea how anyone finds my books outside of my Twitter followers, but it feels like I’m doing something right, even on a small scale.


Finally—I want to talk about the future! I of course have about twenty WIPs on deck, but I’m going to let them actually simmer this time around. (Note: twenty is 100% an exaggeration, but it is more than five and that feels like A Lot.)

I’m hoping to get back to reading more regularly and reviewing things that I thoroughly enjoy/wish I had written on this blog, because I find great merit in examining why I like things or why they click with me so well. I also have a mighty urge to support all my wonderful Twitter mutuals’ writing.

I also maybe kind of want to design book covers for other indie authors? It’s something I enjoy so much even though I am not professionally trained in graphic design.

I also want to work on posting more casual writing—be it something serialized, or fanfiction, or what-have-you. Because despite all this “needing to breathe” I need to do, I am a teensy bit addicted to that instant gratification of putting something out there and getting an immediate reaction.

But mostly I just want to continue settling into this feeling of community, and contributing positively in whatever way I can.

So uh, watch this space? I’m sure I’ll be getting into a multitude of shenanigans for the back half of 2021, and I’m so excited to share every bit!