So, I finished a short story last week and put it up on Amazon yesterday. Should be a cause for celebration, right? Well, yes, but not the way you might think. You see, this short is one of four completed-but-not-edited manuscripts that I’ve been sitting on for an unconscionably long time.
In my defense, two of them are part of a trilogy and until I finish the third book, I can’t finish editing the first two. Ah, the hazards of being a panster. But, still. Sitting on manuscripts because I can’t get off my butt and publish them is probably not a good career move. That’s why I wrote the short in the first place.
I’ve been stalled out in a few areas of life since The Great Move. Since most of them aren’t writing-related, this isn’t the place to talk about them, so I won’t. Suffice to say that I’ve been moderately productive in terms of ‘butt in chair, fingers on keyboard’ but the lack of publishing-related momentum and tangible results (see my post from two weeks ago) has started to take a toll.
But even laziness can be put to use. I was plowing through Georgette Heyer’s regency romances like there was no tomorrow, and decided to make one of my own. Something low input and low output, that I could finish in a couple days and publish a week later (I like to wait a few days or more between finishing the first draft and editing, so I have some distance from the story).
The great thing about romance is that- for me, anyway- it’s basically write by numbers. The characters don’t have to be stock versions but they can be. Ditto for settings and plot. Sex scenes are hard (Pipe down, you in the back! I hear you sniggering) so I leave them out. And happy endings are a given.
So I sat down at my computer and thought for a moment, and Miss Marianne Stanhope showed up. Now, what sort of trouble could a regency girl get into? Lots of options, but only a few that can be solved in less than 10,000 words. So I decided that she should find herself embroiled in… but I won’t spoil it for you.
Finishing The Flight of Miss Stanhope took a couple of days, and even though it was an easy write, typing ‘The End’ was such a relief. Because I’d finally finished something. Finding a cover for it is a whole ‘nother issue, but after seeing my atrocious attempts at cover art, Sarah has taken pity on me and offered to do them for me. So a major stopping block has become a scheduling issue, and the story went up the next day.
It’s a little early to tell, but the mere act of publishing something, even if it’s a teeny little short that I wrote in four days, has improved my mood and my drive to do more. Not just putting words on the page, but also on the publishing front. I can see the way forward, and if I can keep from getting lost in the weeds, I’ll be able to put out a book a month for the next five or six months.
Other commenters have mentioned that once you have 8- 10 books up, particularly if you publish them within a year or so, it’s possible to slow the pace of publication to a couple books a year without much loss of income. I haven’t yet reached the point of learning if this is true, but it sounds reasonable. Amazon’s algorithms pay attention to popular books and authors, and put them near the top of search results and on-page ads, where people are more likely to see them. Also, each new book brings in new readers, who- hopefully!- like your latest book and go through your entire backlist. Bonus points if they tell their friends about the awesome new author they discovered. Word of mouth is a real thing, and not just among geeks. Even my non-geek friends occasionally tell me what they’re reading.
There’s a snowball effect in writing and in publishing. Which makes sense- the more you do something, the easier it becomes. Now I just have to convince myself that the same principle applies to learning how to do cover art. While I’m doing that, you should check out The Flight of Miss Stanhope, now available on Amazon.
Marianne Stanhope is in trouble. Her family is urging her to accept the attentions of a most odious suitor, so she turns to a gentleman of her acquaintance for aid. But Mr. Firth has his own reasons for assisting Miss Stanhope, and it falls to her childhood friend Mr. Killingham to convince her that she’s made a dreadful mistake.