I know by now how to be a successful indie: Write under one pen name, ideally in one series of novels, hits the needs of a target market that is large enough to make a living, and publish on a regular schedule (four books a year or more)
But it’s not me.
This year I have written and published one YA fantasy, one contemporary romance bordering on women’s fiction, one dating advice book for men, three books for self-publishers (one on AMS, one on ACX, one on CreateSpace), four books on Microsoft Excel, two holiday romance short stories, and also revised and republished a series of seven erom short stories.
That adds up to 365,000 words so far and the year isn’t done. I still expect to publish at least two more non-fiction titles before the year is out.
Even though I’ve been seeing steady improvement in sales and income year-to year, my failure to just pick a direction and stick with it has been bugging the shit out of me. I mentally beat up on myself on a regular basis for what I’ve viewed as a failure to focus. It’s one thing to not know how to succeed (which was me for the first couple years). But to see how it’s done and still not do it? I mean, what the hell?
Turns out, though, that my writing across a ton of subjects and genres is actually just part of who I am.
I think I’d mentioned already that I took a course this month called Write Better Faster that’s offered through the Lawson Writer’s Academy (https://www.margielawson.com/lawson-writers-academy-courses). The course uses a variety of personality tests to see what kind of person you are and then talks about the best way for you to write or edit or plan, etc. based on your type.
Part of being me, for example, is being a pantser. And being an emotions-based writer. And needing my own workspace. And getting stuck in loops where I check on sales, internet, FB, sales, etc. and get nothing done.
But another part of being me is being a Strategic-Learner personality. (Strengthsfinder: https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/home/en-US/Index) And part of that is a desire to keep learning new things.
With my writing that’s manifested as wanting to learn something new (like AMS ads), writing about it once I feel I have, and then wanting to move on to something else.
(It also explains why some day jobs have been horrendous fits for me even though the pay was good.)
Does a part of me wish I were that single-minded writer? Oh, absolutely. Can you imagine publishing 365,000 words a year in a successful series?
But it’s not me and it’s not what interests me about writing. I like the challenge of writing and creating a world that works. Or of finding a way to take the knowledge in my head and put it in a form that others can understand and learn from.
Ideally, I’ll get to the point where I can be me as a writer and make enough to not stress about money, but it’s a relief to realize or reaffirm who I am and how I experience my world. Next step is to give some thought to how I use what I now know about myself to move up to that next level.
So that’s where I am today. Accepting who I am and what I need from my work to be happy.
(And I cannot recommend this class highly enough. Seriously. If you get a chance, take it. It is well worth it.)