Willow Winters is the bestselling author of the steamy new release, Imperfect.
If you told me a few years ago that I’d be a best-selling romance author today, I’d have laughed. This job is a dream I never dared to dream. If you told me that my husband would be my business partner and without him I’d crumble from the stress of this business, then I’d know you were lying.
It’s almost been a year since I started self-publishing. It’s been a crazy ride and one I couldn’t have done without my better half. His role in this process has changed along the way, and in ways I never expected.
When I started writing, it was only a hobby. I didn’t think I was really an author. Most days I wondered when Amazon would wake up and the executives would say, “who let this stay at home mom publish? Doesn’t she know this is for real writers.” I think it’s a natural process, to assume it’s a fluke when your first book does better than your wildest dreams and you get your first fan mail. It’s called the imposter syndrome and I certainly had it.
I only wrote at night, once the kids had gone to bed and dinner was cleaned up. Writing became my passion. I’m as Type A as they come and aggressive by nature. Although I felt like a fraud at times, my husband would tell me when I sat down to write how proud he was of me. I think it’s something I didn’t quite appreciate back then. As if he was supposed to say it, even if he didn’t mean it. I also didn’t realize just how motivating it was to hear him say that.
I continued to push forward, but as I realized how much there was to do and my to-do list grew longer and longer, I became exhausted. The laundry was the first thing to go. Before I started writing, the moment a basket was full, it was washed, dried, folded and put away that same day. Well that became unrealistic. After all, I had books to write and covers to design. I had emails to get back to and promotions to book. Who has time to fold laundry the night edits come back?
I’m not an easy person to work with. Type A personality describes me only if it’s in the boldest of fonts with “OCD” scribbled perfectly on the down stroke and balanced in cursive writing. I have high standards and short deadlines. As my passion for writing started bringing in a substantial income, I took a good look around and realized I couldn’t keep up my schedule.
I couldn’t take care of the kids and household all day and write all night, only getting a few hours of sleep before starting it all over again. I was failing and exhausted and I needed support. It’s not an easy thing for me to admit. I want to be able to do it all. I tried and for a little while I succeeded, but at the cost of my mental and physical health.
My husband saw how if affected me and I told him my worries. At first, when I asked him to help me, I felt guilty. He worked all day too and watched the kids so I could write. He started doing bath time on his own and story time most nights too. We were both at our breaking points, working hard together, but towards different goals in our careers.
Luckily, I could one-up him. I love writing. I love romance. I’m addicted to it and I love my job. Well most parts of it. There’s so much more than what meets the eye. And my husband, who worked as a chemist, well he didn’t love his job as much as I loved mine. When push came to shove and I begged him to quit and come help me, it was out of desperation.
I didn’t realize back then what a milestone it would be for us.
I asked my husband to invest in me. To be my partner and help me do it all – together. This past December, after ten months of me tackling this self-publishing journey alone, my husband quit working and became my business partner.
Now, I don’t know if this really rang crystal clear for you yet, but I’m OCD and I like things done correctly the first time. It took me nearly a year to climb the very steep learning curve. Hubby was jumping in with both feet and starting not knowing a darn thing.
There were days where I was frustrated and wanted to ring his neck. And I’m sure he’d tell you the same from his end.
It took a long time for me to give up control and trust that he would do things the way I like them done. Which, by the way, is not the way we run our household. We have a rule here: if you don’t like the way something is done, then do it yourself. That didn’t quite work when it came to hubby taking over some of the tasks, like going through minor edits, prepping newsletters and creating my website. I wanted things done the way I did them.
My husband is full of surprises though and I married him for a reason. He made being a partner in this business a priority and found solutions to problems I didn’t even know I had. It’s taken a lot of time and frustration, but now we work seamlessly and I know I’d crumble without him. The stress and anxiety of running your business, which in reality is what being a self-published author is, can be so overwhelming that it’s crippling. Burn out is a real thing and I’ve come close to feeling too overwhelmed and falling flat on my face. My husband has been there to pick up the pieces and give me the support I need, not only as a husband and best friend, but also as a business partner.
It’s a rarity in this industry, but it was by far the best outcome I ever could have hoped for.
This isn’t what we signed up for when we got married, not in the least. I never thought what started as an escape during my babies’ naps would flourish into a career. And I never dared to dream my husband would become a pillar I needed to survive in this industry. This last year has been a whirlwind, but a blessing all the same. And I wouldn’t have made it out alive without Hubby.
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3 thoughts on “A Partner in Life and in Publishing?”
Hi Willow – thanks a lot for sharing your journey of how you became a best selling author, from very beginnings. We sound a lot alike … well, apart from the best selling author part. It is as I imagined it. It’s certainly not all glitz and glamour. And you have a wonderful partner in your husband. Congratulations on your latest release. I will be picking it up. I must admit you’re still a new author to me, but having just read your story, and I did recently pick up VALETTI CRIME FAMILY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION…(haven’t read it yet), I will be picking up IMPERFECT.
I think it’s wonderful that you can work together without killing each other. I don’t think we could do it! Great job!!! Love your work❤️
Wow Willow, I started reading your post and thought someone was writing about my life… I only started 1 year ago and with my husband. I, like you love to write and my husband loves everything to do with his computer. Together, like yourself, we have launched 2 series, Dragon’s Gap and Pride of Lion Edge, consisting of 12 books and 3 box sets in total.
My story is probably easier than yours as our child rearing days are over and my books is now all we do. As boring as that may sound I know you know it is not.
I will check back for updates. Thanks for the read.