Showing posts with label time management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label time management. Show all posts

Jun 22, 2016

An Author's Bucket List

Panel at Printers' Row 6-16
 In the preface to Iberia, James Michener explained that he'd conceived the idea for the book decades before, made a bunch of notes about it, and then put it on a shelf because he had too many other things going. I think many authors have the same experience: too many ideas, not enough time. I always tell people I'll die with ideas for more books in my head.

It takes time to make an idea into a book, which is why, though we all might have "a book inside us," we don't all write it down. It's a daunting task, and even if/when you do write it down, it needs editing and reworking, over and over. Even books that seem light, like cozies, require multiple drafts. (I know there are authors who claim to write it down only once. A: I don't believe them and B: if it IS true, I'm guessing they work it over many, many times in their heads before they make that one draft. The rest of us can't keep all that stuff inside--we'd explode.)

Some ideas are good but difficult to plot. I have a couple of books that I started and had to leave because I eother don't know where I want it to go or how I'm going to get there. A book I released last winter, DOUBLE TOIL & TROUBLE, was years in the making because it was a romance (not what I'm known for nowadays)  and a sequel to MACBETH'S NIECE. I wanted to finish the macFinlaech story, but each girl's story unfolds in turns, and I hadn't been able to make them come back together in a balanced way until inspiration hit--years after I began it.

I also have ideas that are cool but I just don't have the time right now to write them. With three series going, there wasn't time to write the mystery about the woman recovering from a coma or the sequel to SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD I'd started back when an agent first took the book on. She said, "Get to work on the sequel NOW!" I did, but I never finished it, and that agent never sold the first book, so the second one's been lying around 3/4 finished. Maybe this fall...

There are other ideas, some vague, some partially done. It might be true that they don't deserve to be completed if they haven't fired my imagination enough to do it, but on the other hand, I'm by necessity a compartmentalist: I work on the book I'm working on until I'm happy with it (or until a publisher is!) That means the uncompleted books on my bucket list are probably deserving, they simply have to wait their turn. Now that I've finished the Dead Detective and Loser series, and now that my publisher for the Simon & Elizabeth series has announced they won't be publishing any more mysteries, it might be time for some of the books on the bucket list to get their turn at bat.

Oct 26, 2015

Plain Talk for Writers: It Takes Longer than You Think


What takes longer, you ask?
Everything.
It takes longer to sell a book than you'd like.
It takes longer to produce a book than you estimate.
It takes longer to become a familiar name to readers than you expected.
It takes longer to to keep up with promotion than you ever imagined.

Let's look at those one by one.

Sell the book. Five years is the estimated average time it takes a writer to find a publisher. If you're hoping for a big publisher, it could be even more. Yes, I know you read about an author who hit it big with her first book. Hooray for her, but most of us don't have that experience. We just don't talk about it because the average reader thinks if a book is "good enough," it's going to get published.
Yeah, right.

Produce the book. Once your book is accepted by a publisher, you're on their timeline. You can tell all your friends about it, but they're likely to have to wait more than a year to see the book in print. My publisher puts each manuscript they receive into a queue, and the publication date will always more than a year away due to the process: editing, re-editing, cover designing, formatting, submitting for review, and copy-editing. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
If you self-publish you're responsible for all that, and while that's beneficial in some ways, it's a lot more work--more time spent not writing.

Become a familiar name. Try this one: Who are Adam Johnson, Nathan Englander, and Eowyn Ivey?
They were the top three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013 (Johnson won it). If we don't take note of these authors' names, why would we recall the author of the murder mystery we read last week?

Keep up with promotion. Here's what I've done so far this morning: I checked my emails for both Peg and Maggie, answering some, deleting a lot, and sending out codes for one of Maggie's audio books. Then I sent a guest blog post to a fellow author who will use it on November 3rd. I wrote it yesterday, so today I proofed it, added links, photos, and a bio. Monday is blog day for me and Maggie. In addition, each day I try to follow some of the advice authors are given: tweet interesting things, post on FB, send a newsletter to those who opt in to learn what I'm up to. I set up my own book signings and talks, although people are finally starting to ask me to speak rather than me asking them. I'm also preparing for Magna Cum Murder this weekend, which meant answering the panel moderators' questions so they know what to ask about when I get there. In the back of my mind I'm searching for something cool to give away there (It's in Indianapolis) to make people take note of my work in the mash of authors who'll be there trying to do the same thing. (One author gave everyone in the room ten dollars. Impressive, but honestly, I didn't buy her book with it and I don't recall her name!)

The point is there's always something I could be doing to "make it" as an author, and a lot of it isn't writing books.

I'm not complaining. I love everything I do that connects to writing, and I would never discourage anyone from doing it. It's just that it's always a surprise to me when I think, "I can have that book out by the end of the year." ...It's almost the end of October, and I'm not even close.


How Doth She Bigotry? Let Me Count the Ways

    I left a conversation yesterday wondering how many ways one person can offend another in three minutes. I was outside sweeping my si...