The Journey…It Is Changing …by Susan Lute

Things are changing. This is not a surprise to anyone involved in publishing today. When I published my first book in 2003, there were few expectations or options in regards to where I would publish. Epub was possible, but it wasn’t the vibrant entity it is today. You had your New York publishers, and that was pretty much it. Sourcebooks a fledgling company out of Napperville, Illinois was the newest kid on the block.

In 2012, the year of the dragon and change, there are so many choices. If I was a college student graduating today, wanting to pursue a career as an author, I wouldn’t have to look solely to the Legacy Publishers, as we call them now. E-publishers are alive and thriving, and the new kid on the block, self-publishing is giving her big sisters a run for their money.

But even in self-publishing, the journey is a winding road. Taking on a new day job…which I like a lot, btw; it’s interesting and challenging, and has perks that make the temporary lengthy commute worth it. Almost two months into it, I’m asking myself some hard questions, the first of which is when do I carve out time for the writing?

This is a question writers revisit over and over along their journey, because life is ever changing, especially now, when most of us don’t have the luxury, or the personality required (that would be me, lol) to stay home and just write. As you would expect, this has led to new discoveries and decisions that must be made.

I used to think writing for traditional publishers was a crazy, out of control life. It’s been a long time since a writer could just write the story, turn it over to their publisher, then start the next best seller. Believe me when I say, Indie publishing can be a mad, pull-your-hair-out, merry-go-ride. There aren’t enough hours in a day to keep up with everything everyone says you should do. This led to my newest epiphany. If you find yourself in the same harried place, whether you’re a writer, reader, or other artist, join me. We can stop. And have coffee together.

Here are the hard questions I was forced to ask myself this week. How many books do I have to publish a year to be successful? I know the big selling authors, and publishers are saying, as many as you can – four to six is ideal, but is it worth what you lose? The joy of writing the story? Can I get the joy back? If yes, how? Can I be a weekend writer, be happy with that AND successful? When can I get off the merry-go-round?

My answers in reverse order. I CAN get off the merry-go-round. I have the power, and in fact, that’s the first step. There are certain things you have to do as an Indie author to make yourself discoverable – the new catchword. But you don’t HAVE to do everything. It’s better if you don’t. For your sanity if nothing else, but especially to protect the writing. Do Not join every self-publishing group popping up on the net. Pick and choose wisely. Only become a member of communities that give back to its member rather than always soliciting something from you (see The Benefits Of Being A Commuting Writer for examples of stellar communities) Figure out what you love about telling a story and do THAT. I can be happy being a weekend writer for now. I’ll have to be more organized about it, and keep better office hours, but it can work. That’s an exciting thought all by itself! Can I be successful putting out two thoughtful, well written and packaged novels a year, rather than four to eight hurriedly finished books? You be I can! You can, too. Our novels are our calling cards. They are us presenting our true selves to the world. They have to be the VERY best we can do. That one decision cleared away the chaos and brought the joy back.

You can agree or disagree with me. I’d like to know what you think, because I believe this is the most important talking point at the moment. Can you produce your best work by rushing through the process because ‘they’ say that’s how it has to be done? Or, can you get off that merry-go-round, and write a novel generations from now will still be reading? Will that be your success story? I hope it’s mine.


About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on June 24, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Coffee sounds wonderful!


  2. Who is THEY anyway?

    I just returned from a marvelous writer’s conference in Crested Butte, Colorado. Agents, editors, and NYT bestselling writers all available for about 60 attendees. The word on promotion across the board was “No one can do it all well. Pick the one or two outlets you actually ENJOY and do them consistently. Most important keep writing the next book. If you don’t have another book to offer, you might as well not worry about promotion.”

    In terms of how many books a year, I think that is completely dependent on genre and book type. Category writers are pushed to write at least three books a year, and many do six just to earn enough money to be full-time writers. But, remember category books are 55-65K words. Larger books, 75k-100K, many authors only do one per year. If you can two, I think that is marvelous! The push from a publisher to do more is for series–only because readers are impatient. But then, a publisher will wait for a year to put out a series so they can do them back-to-back.

    I agree that quality over quantity is definitely the right way to go. I hear you on balancing day job and writing. I’ve been doing that for the past eight years, with varied approaches. At the moment my promise to myself is one three day weekend per month devoted to writing. During that weekend my goal is to produce a minimum of 30 pages (10 pages a day). Since I made that promise to myself, it has worked excellently. I’ve always produced at least 30 pages (often more). More important, it has assuaged the guilt of not writing every day. Because I travel so much, there are many days I can barely stay awake beyond my work day requirements. Writing on those days would just be silly.

    Hang in there, Susan. All of us full-time day job and writing jobs are hanging with you.


  3. Thank you. I feel better already. I don’t have to do everything. It’s the most exciting time to be a writer, but it’s also the most confusing.


  4. I think writing because we love it and telling stories we feel compelled to sell is the best road. Carving out that writing time also seems crucial.

    I love your thoughts on being choosey when it comes to the many options available to authors. It can be easy to get impatient, but it can hurt us, our crafts and our careers. Thanks for sharing your insight! We can all learn from authors, particularly experienced ones. 🙂


  5. Su,

    Even as a newly ‘full time’ writer, I have already had to step back a few times and remind myself that I can’t and don’t need to do all the things that other authors are doing.

    I don’t have a personal assistant, lol, and I am on deadline to get 3 books out in one year. That is a huge step up for me, right there. So Goodreads events, etc, will have to get along without me for now.

    Will I pub faster in the future? Possibly. Will I do more online promo? Undoubtedly.

    I so agree with your quality over quantity, because we’ve all read at least one book by our fave big name authors where they must have been in a huge hurry, because they sort of phoned it in. That was obviously okay with the publisher, but not the readers.


  6. Gina Fluharty

    This is my new mantra. Thank you.


  7. Great advice! “THEY” are not you, and it’s YOUR journey.


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