In May I wrote my first ‘State of My Writing’ post, which is really a sort of check-in with myself on how I’m doing with my work-in-progress. Since then—by my rough count—I’ve banged out about 53,000 words in my newest WIP, which means I’ve fit one NaNaWriMo into five months.
In some ways, 50K words is awesome—no matter what. Writing a book is an incredible feat of discipline and determination for anyone who has a full-time job. If you’re a moonlighting novelist, give yourself a pat on the back. Really whack that shoulder blade…leave a mark! For the last few months, I’ve sacrificed whole chunks of my life to writing. I’ve fallen off the face of Facebook, and vanished from the Twitterverse. I’ve spent months’ worth of lunch hours typing with my laptop pressed awkwardly to my steering wheel. (I hate writing in a parked car. Not an environment that’s conducive to creativity.) My Netflix queue is overflowing. I’ve been playing Bioshock Infinite for five months. At this rate, Booker DeWitt is never getting his ass off that floating city!
Which brings me to the depressing part of all that toil: I’m not really that close to being done! My hope was that by December, I could have a rough draft of this Idyll sequel nailed down, an estimated total of 80K words. Then I’d dive back into my first Idyll book and edit it with some new insights into where the characters end up in book 2. I’d release Idyll and Turning (my other novel), and already be percolating on a second draft to my sequel.
I’m really excited at the idea of going from a unpublished nobody to a nobody with three novels on my Amazon Author Page. And I’m excited at the idea of releasing those books in fairly close succession, so that the excitement (hopefully) of one book can build off the excitement (fingers crossed!) of the others. Ah, the freedom of being a independent author, of choosing the shape of your own obscurity.
In addition to writing, I’ve been swamping my head with self-publishing advice. I read ‘Write, Publish, Repeat,’ which has some great advice in it, but is also a little insane (these guys write like a dozen books a year, and they recommend you try to match them). I’ve also been listening to the ‘Write, Publish, Repeat’ authors’ podcast, and the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast, which I’ve really enjoyed. I’m letting this swamp of advice soak in (see the way I brought back that earlier metaphor?), absorbing these insights like a sponge (OK, I’ll drop it now), and I think I’ll write another post on where I net out on all of it.
My biggest bit of wisdom, right now? As a fiction author, your primary marketing pieces are your book. Edit them, get a great cover, and make them available to readers as soon as possible. Because books are like a Twitter account or a blog site…it takes them a while to find an audience. And you can’t find an audience at all until you’ve put something out there.This is kind of a direct contradiction of my ‘hoard three books and release them in close succession’ strategy. But I think it makes sense. And I’ve heard the advice ‘publish your first book as soon as it’s ready’ from multiple sources. I shouldn’t expect an immediate splash of accolades and sales from my first launch as an author. Even if the launch involves two or three books. It’s not going to happen.
So does it make sense for me to stop writing on this sequel and focus on my other books that are closer to being ready? I’m not sure it’s ever a good idea to stop mid-stride on a book if you have momentum going. Hmmm, I’ll have to think on this…