Writing about my writing helps me process what I’m writing.
Okay, that sounds like something
from out of a current politician’s mouth. But if you think about it, it makes
sense. Starting today, I’m going to be writing about my current project, my
WIP, which happens to be a cozy mystery set in Sugar Pine Station titled Secrets & Scents. (More about that
Each day, after I reach my word count goal (or a day or two
later as I reflect back on my progress), I process what I’ve accomplished by
writing about it. And I share it on my blog. It’s not out of arrogance, as if I’m
some sort of bestselling author with pearls of wisdom to dispense. It’s just a
way for me to think out loud about what I’m learning.
If readers get a kick out of it or other beginner writers
like me are inspired or learn a thing or two, all the better.
And yes, I’m a beginning writer. I’m a full-time professional
writer, but I’m just starting out. I have not reached my million words of
fiction yet. Probably close to 400,000. But if I reach my goal over the next 18
months – writing a book a month (about 60k words per) – I’ll cross that threshold
next summer. Will I be a better writer by then? I should hope so!
So one way for me to improve is to write about my writing. I’ll
then compile these journal entries into a non-fiction e-book and make them
available free to those who buy the novel I’m working on. Pretty clever, eh?
Once I’m done with Secrets & Scents,
I’ll publish it and there will be a link in the back of the e-book for readers
to click and download this completed journal. I’m also blogging about this
daily, so the entries will also be online, free to read.
Okay, about my current project.
Today, I basically outlined the story and set up Scrivener so
that I could easily view the character descriptions, setting, plot points, and
any other notes I have to help me write this novel. This will be the first time
I’ve written a whole book using the program. In theory, I like the flexibility
of Scrivener over Word (which I’ve mostly used in the past, and am using for
this non-fiction project right now) because I don’t have to switch documents to
read over my outline. In Scrivener, everything is right there on the same
screen, within reach via the sidebar.
But I’m a bit worried about compiling all the chapters into a
cohesive whole with Scrivener. I know how to format Word so that when I upload
it to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) it produces a nicely formatted
e-book. Not so sure how to do it with this utility. Welp. It’s all a part of
the learning process and becoming a more professional writer and businessman.
You read that correctly. Independent writers today are in
business and need to approach their career with their eyes open. It’s not all
about writing. That’s the most important part, of course. Without a product or
service, you can’t sell anything. (Ponzi schemes excluded.)
But there’s also one’s social media platform and public engagement
(which is what I’m doing now by posting these journal entries), promotion,
branding, marketing, and sales. And then there’s more writing. The best
advertisement for your book is to write your next book. I’ve heard that a
number of times from different sources, and I believe it.
I didn’t believe it in the past. Because I knew nothing about
the business of writing. Still don’t. Still learning. One thing I’ve realized,
though, is that a lot of people – and I mean a lot of people – like to read series of books. I’m ambivalent about
series myself, and so I never gave it much thought. But in today’s market,
unless you accidently (intentional word) stumble yourself into writing a
bestseller, those making a living at their writing are writing in series of
This was a revelation to me. Really. I’m not quite an early
adapter, but I’m not a laggard, either! I do come around after a few knocks on
the head telling me to wake up.
So when I semi-retired earlier this year with the intent of
writing full time (and making money at the career), I took a hard look at my fiction
output up to that point. My backlist. My oeuvre.
My ego was quickly deflated when I realized I’d only written
two books (and a bunch of story collections and a few novellas). And those two
books were basically episodic short stories tied together into an overarching
whole. Not a novel start to finish. And nothing written in a series. One book
was a magical cat cozy mystery and the other was an epic fantasy adventure.
Those are different genres, by the way. (grin)
What to do? Which genre should I focus on? The advice I was getting was to drill down into the niche of my choice and produce five or six novels in that series and then launch a related series of 5 or 6 books, same genre, connected characters and setting. At that point, I’ve been told, you’ll start finding your audience and your audience will find you.
That made total sense to me. It was what I saw happening on Amazon and indeed, writing a long series of books with the same characters and setting and basic plot structure was what authors have been doing for ages.
Think Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries with PI
Kinsey Millhone; Janet Evanovich's numbered mysteries with bail bondsman
Stephanie Plum; Patricia Cornwell's crime novels with ME Kay Scarpetta. Or Lilian
Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who" cozy mysteries.
Are you sensing a trend here? I like cozies, mysteries,
crime, thrillers. I also like science fiction and fantasy, and westerns, and
romance. Argh. I needed to choose.
Expand my fantasy book into a series or expand my magical cat cozy stories into
It’s obvious which one I chose. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how I