It’s that time again! Time for my monthly (if belated) keepin’-it-real post about my writing progress. This time, we turn our attention to May, in which the writer does lots of career/publishing research-type things. I also had some important story/series breakthroughs and made solid progress on the writing front.
Marketing My Girls. Back in April, as I recalibrated my writing schedule and started pulling myself out of the writing doldrums to which I’d fallen prey during the first bleak months of 2015, I also knew it was time to start marketing My Girls. In April, I researched agents and ranked them based on those I thought would be the best fit for me and for my work. In May, I took the next step, submitting queries and partial manuscripts to the first several agents on my list. Nothing to report yet, positive or negative, but if I start to get rejections, I’ll move onto the next set of agents/agencies on my list. And I’ll have to do it, since it’s all on my marketing spreadsheet, and we all know the spreadsheet rules!
Drinking From the Fire Hose That Is Self-Publishing Information. As (I think) I’ve mentioned previously somewhere on the blog, I’m seriously considering the self-publishing route for my in-progress historical romance series. This would not be after trying the traditional route, it would be instead of it. If I do this (and as with all things I discuss doing on this blog, I reserve the right to change my mind), there is SO MUCH to learn. I don’t even…I can’t…Where the hell do I even start!?! If you have any self-publishing resources you find useful and easy to understand, please share! Thus far, I’ve joined a few self-publishing loops, have begun following some self-published writer blogs, and have been tapping the hive mind of my successfully self-publishing friends.
This research has already yielded useful results for me. If you’ve researched self-publishing, you’ve probably heard that getting out multiple books per year to keep your name in front of readers and engage them in series is an important way to get traction. While that might still be the case, I’ve learned that due to Amazon’s ever-changing and ever-elusive algorithm system, rapid-release publishing (putting out a new book in a series every 30 to 60 days), is no longer necessarily advantageous.
That changes a lot in my plans, in a very good way. I don’t have to have all 5 books (leading up to number 6, which I hope will be a novella) completed, critiqued, and revised by the end of 2015, as I’d previously planned (and have long since abandoned). The new plan is to have the first two completed, critiqued, revised, and off to a professional editor by the end of the year, and a first draft completed on the third. It’s called breathing room, people, and sometimes we have to give ourselves a bit of it.
Writing the Books of My Heart. If I had to pick one word to sum up my writing progress for May, I’d have to choose self-awareness (a hyphenated word counts as one, right?). When I came to the conclusion that I could relax my ridiculous deadlines (which of course I could have done all along because they were my ridiculous deadlines), I knew I could spend the time I wanted and needed to spend with each book to fully enjoy the writing experience. For me, that enjoyment doesn’t mean loving writing every day, or even most days. But it does mean feeling eager and excited to reveal and resolve the unique puzzles each book presents. It means challenging my skills and finding ways to improve my writing craft with each new story. And it means spending enough time in each story world and with each character in that world to fall in love with them.
Years ago, when I was new to this fiction-writing game, I chose each ‘next story’ by what I thought I needed to do at that time. ‘I will write x because it will teach me y, and at this point, I really need to learn y’. Or, to a considerably lesser extent, ‘I will write this because I have an idea I like that fits a trend in publishing and if I get it out fast enough, I can still catch that train’. Now I’ve reached a point in my writing process where those considerations don’t even cross my mind.
There will be something to learn and improve with each and every book. If a book is especially challenging, I’ll pull up my big-girl pants and rise to the occasion. And as far as catching the latest trends, that rarely worked, even in the olden days of trad-only publishing. The advent of e- and self- and consortium-publishing has meant readers and writers who’ve never followed a trend in their lives can now find each other. More than ever before, I choose each story because I love it, and every book I written for the past few years has felt like ‘the book of my heart’. My goal for the rest of my writing life is to always feel my WIP is the next book of my heart. If there’s any wisdom to come with the unavoidable aging process, maybe this is it.
So how was May (and the first half of June) for your writing? What progress did you make? What lessons did you learn?