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How to Publish with Depression


Woman with shoulder-length brown hair and bangs wears a black jumper and leather jacket. She sits at a wooden table reading a book A Lot of People Live in This House. There is a stack of the books on the table.
Author Bailey Merlin reading at her book launch

When you run at life full tilt for months on end, it really feels as though nothing will ever stop you. For some, that's a good thing. For others, that marathon pace is torture; you will do whatever you can to convince life to call off the dog pile. And then life does, and you're left with the smoldering wreckage of the vehicle that got you through the race. After over two and a half years of nonstop speed: stillness. No one warned me about the whiplash.


Given the low stores of energy I'm working with these days, this post will not be as long as others of its nature. After getting married, working a full-time job and two part-time jobs, going to grad school full-time, and publishing a book in under 10 months, I find that I'm still sitting with a lot of thoughts and feelings that aren't ready to be made into something fit for human consumption. However, as many people with ADHD, when the dopamine factories shut down, here comes the crash.


In retrospect, publishing may not have been the best idea for me. Or rather, publishing without an agent or a traditional house may not have been the best idea for me. There is no insulation. While my small press did arm me with some ideas, support, and legitimacy, they do not know the inner workings of the industry as someone with decades of experience does. Hindsight is 20/20, and I was tired of waiting for someone to tell me I was good enough for them. I've had a lifetime of that, and it sucks more than a lukewarm response.


I look at the numbers (sales, followers, comments, friends), and I obsess. Nothing is ever good enough. I can't even make myself look at the reviews the book has gotten, though my manager tells me they are glowing. I just know how many reviews are on Goodreads. Nine. That's it. The book is barely a month old, and I'm terribly disappointed in its performance. I have no author friends to help get the word out. No one will read this blog, even. It's all so....soul-crushing. I'm tired of pretending it isn't. I'm trying to figure out how to be a published author with depression.


In truth, I'm looking to build a writing community. Facebook groups, Discord chats, and Meetups haven't yielded the relationships I'm looking for, so let it be known that I'm on the hunt for a group of authors dedicated to their craft, critical but kind, and funny in light of the bad days. I want to be that for someone else. Maybe it's you.


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