Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been listening to different podcasts geared for writers. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient with my time.
1. Edit As I Write
The idea is that you do the creative writing part on Day 1. Then on Day 2, you spend 15-30 minutes going over Day 1’s writing. You rewrite, delete, and proof anything that pops up as needing work. Then you continue writing the story. On Day 3, you go over Day 2’s stuff then write. And etc, etc.
The reason I want to try this is because going back over my story once I finish it takes me a long time to do. It’s easy for me to be motivated to write. I love that part. I’m not a fan of the editing stage. It’s necessary. I do it so that I have a second draft to hand over to my editing team.
I’m sure this will slow down my average daily word count. Based on last year’s word count total of 518,794 words, I average 1,421 words a day. Now, I’m not in the camp of authors who believe you need to write every single day. I do better if I take about two days off a week. Those aren’t scheduled days. Sometimes I have time to work on the weekends. Sometimes I have so many errands to run during the week, I can’t get to writing even though the kids are in school. So I write on days when I have the time.
Also, I don’t make the same word count every day that I write. On some days, I write as little as 250 words. On other days, I manage to get almost 4,000 words in. Rarely do I hit more than that. But this isn’t about churning out as many words as possible in a single day. It’s about being a marathon writer.
Now that I’m adding the “edit as you go” approach, I’m not sure how that will change my word count during the year. The nice thing is I have a daily writing journal that my friend Stephannie Beman made. So I can keep track of my progress, and at the end of the year, I can see how things have played out. I’ve been using her journals for a few years now, and it has really helped me stay on target for my writing goals for the year. I highly recommend it to writers who would like to have a “one stop” place for keeping their projects organized.
2. Writing More For Pleasure And Less To Market
For those who don’t know, there is a HUGE discussion in the writing community over which is better: writing for pleasure or writing to market. Writing to market is when you tailor your storyline (character tropes, plots, etc) to the market you intend to sell to. Some genres (and certain elements within that genre) are more popular than others. So often, writers will go to the market they believe have the best sales potential. I happened to get lucky because my first love is the historical romance market. Writing historical westerns and Regencies were already something I got immense pleasure in. What I would do is narrow down certain storylines and character tropes that I thought would appeal to the most people.
And then I ran out of ideas. And worse than that, I got burnt out because I was chasing trends.
Now, that’s not to say I didn’t have fun while doing this. I did. But I think it’s only something I can do once in a while. I don’t think it’s something I can do all the time. I get energized when I write stuff I’m passionate about. These stories tend not to sell as well as the others I write. So I had to make a choice. Do I continue to write to market or do I concentrate on storylines that I’m itching to write?
Just so everyone knows, there is no right answer in this discussion. This is something every author has to decide for him/herself. This year, I’m going to take on stories that most appeal to me. I’ll see how things go. When I write what I want, I never run out of ideas, and I don’t get so exhausted that I take a couple of weeks to a month to regroup. I’m sure some authors can write to market and stay energized. We all write differently, and we’re motivated by different things. I’m going to try writing for passion this year, and I’ll see where that takes me.
3. I’ll Be Giving Some Time and Attention To My Pen Name
I’m still going to work primarily in romance. Like I said, it’s my first love. Always has been. Always will be. But my second love is thriller and horror, especially in the YA area. Some have a paranormal edge. Not really vampires and werewolves. But there’s some magic involved that seems somewhat reminiscent of fantasy. I’m currently having a couple of author friends familiar with those genres read over the old stuff I did back in 2004-2006 to tell me where those stories fit. I’m also going over and rewriting them as needed.
This pen name is not going to be my main focus because it’s not where I make money. But I thought it would be fun to branch out and do something different. It’s part of my decision to write more for pleasure and less to market. Since I don’t want my pen name’s stuff to get mixed up with my romance stuff, I’m separating them out. This is why I have the pen name, and I created a different website for that name.
I have learned a lot over the nine years I got into publishing ebooks, and what I’ve learned is that books need to target the right audience. It doesn’t mean an author has to write what is super popular in that market, but the story, the covers, and the description have to fit in with that genre and what the market expects. For example, as a reader, when someone tells me they wrote a romance, and I find out the romance is only 30% of the entire story or the main characters don’t end up together, I get pissed because it was not a romance. Romance has certain rules. Other genres have certain rules, too.
That is why I’m having outside help in giving me direction and guidance with this pen name. I want to fulfill the promise I’m making when I market my YA books to a certain audience. Case in point, the other day I learned that 16 and 17 is the ideal age for characters in the Teen market. My characters were 18. The first thing I did was lower their ages to 17. Based on the research this YA author did, 18 is a black hole because the character is technically an adult, but that’s yet too young to qualify for the New Adult market (which is more in the early 20s). There are a lot of things I’m going to have to learn in this new genre I’m dipping my toes into.
Anyway, I was listening to a certain podcast, and the author, who’s has decades of experience, said that a writer should focus on the story they want to write and then ask others where the books fit (genre-wise). So that’s what I’m currently doing.
As for what I’m going to be doing that is the same…
I am going to stay wide. That means I will keep publishing my books on all the retailers I can. The big ones are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords. There are smaller ones, like Scribd, Inktera, Library Direct, Overdrive, and others. At this time, Smashwords doesn’t distribute to Google Play. My small publisher has the books I have with them over at Google Play. I’d like to get more of my books over there, but we’ll see.
Anyway, I say all of this because I had considered putting some of my new books in Kindle Unlimited. I posed a question about it on my profile page on Facebook and again in my private Facebook group. About 65-70% of the people said they go to Amazon for their books, and there were some who said they would only read my stuff if it was in KU. But after serious discussions with other authors (some KU, some not), prayer, and research, I decided to stay wide.
I understand why some authors are in KU. I certainly don’t blame them for it. I was awfully tempted to join myself. But, deep down, I feel that the decision is not right for me. So I’ll miss out on some readers who will never check my stuff out since I won’t be in KU.
One thing I’ve learned in the past nine years of self-publishing ebooks is that there are a lot of hard decisions authors have to make. Nothing is black and white. There will be pros and cons to every choice. I’m hoping that self-publishing across all retailers will still be a viable option for many years to come. I don’t know if it’ll play out like that. Depending on who you listen to, you’ll hear different opinions.
What I gathered from my research over the past couple of weeks is that nothing is guaranteed. You have to do what you think is best, and you have to work hard. The surest way to kill a writing career is to give up writing. My plan is to write until God calls me home. I don’t mean this to sound grim. I would like to die while doing what I love most, and for me, that is writing. I can’t remember who the author was that died at the desk while writing his next book, but I thought, “That is the way I want to go.” If I can do that, then it means I had a lot of fun right up until the very end.