A year ago, I was pretty much convinced that it didn’t matter what I wrote, or how well I wrote it, it was just blind, stupid luck that some authors made money and others didn’t.
Lightning strike and all that, right?
I made it into a joke. When I would meet someone new, I’d say, “I’m a writer, which means I run a cleaning business. The two are connected.”
Folks would usually laugh, sometimes they would even promise to look me up. I didn’t hold my breath.
Just two months before, I had enrolled my daughter in public school for a year, so instead of taking her with me everywhere I went and homeschooling while I worked, I was alone for hours on end. I began listening to podcasts, first about managing an Airbnb and then, on a lark, I found several writing podcasts.
Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn didn’t click with me immediately. Compared to others she really seemed to go on and on in the introduction before the show. At first it was annoying, and then I started really listening to the intro and realizing it had some of the best information I could possibly get.
Her discussion of Canva and later of audiobooks were particularly helpful. I set about redesigning all of my covers. I then edited each of my books to include a book magnet (Schicksal Turnpike – which is still a free giveaway if you sign up for my newsletter), a request for readers to review the book they have just read, preview chapters for other books, and cleaner formatting.
And I have listened to each and every podcast she has done since, along with Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula and Dave Chesson’s podcast as well.
What I have learned from these podcasts has changed my belief system. I can write for money, without selling out. It takes:
- A decent manuscript with compelling info or characters
- A book cover that is attractive to that genre’s readers
- A book blurb that pulls readers in and gives them a taste of what is to come
- Book ads that are effective at catching potential readers attention
- Time and patience as I figure out all of the components listed above
And every month since November 2017, I’ve made money. It still isn’t “quit your cleaning biz and write like a madwoman” life-changing income, but it is INCOME.
And talking about money, and wanting money for my art, isn’t selling out, it’s reality. You don’t go to work for free, do you? You don’t love your job so much that you don’t want to do anything else and would take a 100% pay cut, do you? I didn’t think so. And I love writing, but I also want to make money at it.
Audiobook in Progress
After a particularly challenging afternoon – one that included schoolbuses, sirens, kids yelling and some damned truck beeping as it backed up – I abandoned my ghetto-style recording studio in the attic in disgust.
For the past two mornings, I’ve woken up at 4:15 in the morning and recorded several chapters at a time of Gliese 581: The Departure. Except for a ten minute long break when there was something big going down out there in the world (per the festival of sirens I kept hearing) yesterday morning, I was able to get the eleventh chapter finished by 5:30 this morning.
My body isn’t the only thing that thinks being up at 4 a.m. is a bad idea. My voice isn’t very excited either. It takes some time to get into the swing of things. I’ll keep this up until I have the entire book read into audio form.
Then comes the dreaded task of trying to edit it. This is perhaps the most challenging thing I have done in a long time.
First Person in Progress
I remember the first time I ever wrote anything in first person – it remains a snippet of story, told from multiple views, of a band of teenage friends who are all sharing the same dream. I shared it with my dad and the only thing he said was, “Never write in first person, it’s a publishing no-no.”
And at the time, that was true. More than two decades later, it most certainly is not the case. First person, while still odd to read for some diehard readers and writers, is no longer an industry no-no.
And when it comes to the YA genre, it is rather widespread.
As I was reading the Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige series, I was also wrestling with Book One of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan, a 12-book series I have fleshed out. It felt awkward, contrived, and stilted at times. I had picked it up only to set it aside in frustration a few days later, unsure what needed to change, but convinced it needed something different.
And as I read the Dorothy book, which were written in the first person, it struck me that perhaps that was what I was struggling with. So I am now on the third chapter, moving through it, converting it from third person to first, and it feels better. As I read it in my head it also sounds better.
I’m hoping to make progress on it. The key moment will get when I hit the end of what I have written to date, in a couple more chapters, and whether the words will flow easier then.
The road ahead is fraught with marketing, learning more about effective ad copy, audiobooks and, yes, even some more writing!