Friday, January 3, 2014

My Crazy Writing Life - Day 3: I'm An Author, Sort Of

The label of author should be used loosely when describing me and my “work,” and perhaps I’m more of a hobbyist than a full-blown professional. As of today, I’ve published 117 different works, but don’t let the number fool you. It’s padded with foreign translations and compilations that help boost overall sales. Aside from that, the bulk of what I’ve written are children’s picture books, and I do not have a novel to my credit, only a few short stories and novelettes.

Despite this odd assortment of titles, I have found success. Back in January 2012, I sold a few thousand e-books and saw my sales skyrocket. At one point, I was making more from writing than my full time job, which prompted me to roll the dice and take a chance on this new, emerging opportunity. My contract at work was also expiring, so this seemed to be the best choice at the time.

Obviously, things did not pan out as expected. May’s earnings of $4,000 promptly became $1,600 in June. In July, I fought back voraciously, publishing another 21 titles, and getting my earnings back to $2,500, but it was obvious that the old approach was no longer working, and I would not be able to sustain myself any longer with writing alone. August came and I published a few more titles, while also widening my distribution channels. Although I made slightly more ($2,600), I braced for further reduction in royalties. When November finally ended, I could no longer break $1,000, and none of the new venues (Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo) had caught on yet.

Now I’m back to square one.

Also keep in mind that I am early in my writing career. Although I started writing back in 2006 (and I have the unfinished manuscripts to prove it), I didn’t get around to publishing (i.e., finishing) anything until October 2011. That’s when the fun began. Twelve months later, I had published 70 unique titles, primarily children’s books. My dream of being a published author had been realized to some extent.

But the honeymoon is over, and now it’s time for me to get back to the art of writing. Although writing picture books has been fun and rewarding (and paid well for a brief period), it’s time for me to finish my more serious works, notably Enura (a vampire thriller) and The Key of Neverhence (a fantasy epic). That’s not to say that I’m going to ditch children’s books altogether, but I am going to put a larger emphasis on finishing my novels.

There’s also something else that you should know about me: I am absolutely obsessed with prolific authors and their processes. Frequently I refer to Ryoki Inoue (the Guinness World Record holder for most novels published at 1,100+), Georges Simenon (a pulp fiction writer with over 500 titles to his credit) and Corin Tellado (a Spanish romance novelist who spent most of her adult life writing, and churned out over 4,000 novellas). These are my heroes. They show what can be done if one puts their mind to it. If I can have one tenth of their productivity, I will be enormously successful, and that’s another reason that I’m keeping these journals. By reminding myself of what others have accomplished, I will aspire to do more than I would otherwise. Perhaps one day I’ll join them; I just need to get organized and stay disciplined.

And publish one of my novels…

In terms of goals, I have a lot of them. My novelette The Christmas Spirit has been in development for over a year, and needs an ending. I need to get it off my plate as soon as possible so it doesn’t miss Christmas 2014. Braedyn Bunny and The Missing Eggs was supposed to be an Easter project, but after writing 2,000 words, I took a break, and never returned to it. See a pattern here?

My Little Pet Dragon Ness, Secret Agent Disco Dancer and Aveline and the Great Pumpkin Bash (all sequels) have been started but aren’t close to completion. The Key of Neverhence is a 77,000-word manuscript that needs a major rewrite, but I’ve only done about ten percent of it. Enura is 75% complete, and is probably the closest thing that I have to a completed novel, but I got sick of it, and stopped development altogether.

If there’s a theme to my backlog, it’s that I need to finish what I start. I began all of these projects for a reason. In my mind’s eye, I saw each as a success. Now is not the time to doubt, get lazy, or start new projects instead of finishing existing ones. I must clear the slate so that I can make room for another batch of half-finished projects. Isn’t that always the case?

Beyond that, there’s a million other projects that I’d like to work on. The Key of Neverhence is only the first in a series of series, some 30+ books in all. I have another line of children’s books that adds at least a dozen more titles, as well as faery literature, science fiction action adventure, horror stories, tons more fantasy novels, etc. If I want to finish any of them, I must condition myself to be more productive and less judgmental. Otherwise, these ideas are going to hang around forever and drive me crazy.

And I’m halfway there already…

Reminders for the Feeble-minded
  • Finish what you start.
  • Don’t give up on incomplete works.
  • Don’t create new projects to avoid old projects.
  • There’s a reason why you started each and every project. Identify what you saw working in your head and expand upon it.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just because you’re not thrilled about something you’ve written doesn’t mean it’s bad. Show it to someone else and get their input. You may find that with a few tweaks everything snaps into place or that there’s nothing wrong with it in the first place. As Dean Wesley Smith says, “Authors are their own worst critics.”
  • And if all else fails, open Microsoft Word and just write. It will become clearer what to do with it later.
Day 1: 1,035 words
Day 2: 1,045 words
Day 3: 1,035 words
Total: 3,115 words

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