This is a long one. Buckle up.
First things first:
It looks like I can only make pre-order available for the e-book, but I will be releasing the print version at the same time. If you want to wait for the print version, sadly, you’ll have to wait a bit. I may be able to do some kind of pre-order event on my own for print–like, order copies ahead of time and sign them and mail them out so you all receive them on the release date or something–but I haven’t figured that part out yet.
In any case, if you want to pre-order the e-book, please do so! And please forward to anyone who might want to pre-order it. The more downloads I can get the first day, the better chance of the algorithms catching on!
I’m so excited to unveil a brand spankin’ new logo for my fiction brand!
I haven’t ever had a genuine logo/icon combination for this side of my writing work, so this is kind of fun for me. I wanted something imaginative, and I wanted to incorporate my maiden (now middle) name, and I think this look encapsulates the kind of writing I do. All props to Robyn Hodgdon for her awesome work on this!
Will there be other changes to the brand? I don’t know. Maybe, but nothing imminent. I am working on some longer-term plans and ideas about the care and feeding of the fiction side of my work, and I think branding will be part of it all. But for now, we’re sticking with the current colors, themes, and other elements you already see.
Which brings me to update number three and the core topic of this post…
On Being Human
This may come as a shock to some people–most of all me–but I have a limited amount of time and energy.
To any of you who have been following me for some time, it is probably not surprising that I am once again complaining about the limitations of my time. I seem to swing widely back and forth between pouring all my time and energy into fiction and then worrying about all the things I’m neglecting and pouring all my time and energy into other things and complaining about having no time to write. This is not new, and it will probably not be the last time that I confront the basic limitations of existing in physical space.
However, maybe the thing that’s new and different this time is that my struggles are almost entirely centered around my own priorities and where I want or need to focus my efforts.
With three kids effectively out of the house and one kid closing in on her independence, I am no longer ferrying kids to school, scouting, or myriad other random events. I’m not volunteering anywhere right now. Aside from the care and feeding of one husband and four animals, it’s almost entirely up to me how I spend most of my time. I can focus entirely on fiction, entirely on freelance commercial writing, or some combination thereof.
For some time now, I’ve basically been putting probably half to two-thirds of my work hours into commercial writing. That’s worked fairly well in that for some time, I’ve had a steady stream of work coming in from some very reliable clients and haven’t had to really do any marketing.
I’ve spent the other third to half of my work hours on fiction, and when I say “fiction,” I don’t just mean writing and editing. I also mean blogging, setting up social media posts, miscellaneous promotion, and all the weird little administrative things one has to do when one self-publishes and doesn’t have a full team of people to handle formatting, ISBN management, copyright registrations, proofreading, and all the other miscellaneous things that come with the deal. Honestly, probably at LEAST half of the time I spend on fiction is spent blogging and setting up social media posts.
I had a lot of plans for fiction this year, and then I added to them. And maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the economy, maybe it’s my worry over Unquickened not really being done or good enough, or maybe it’s some combination all of those things plus being pre-menopausal, but this past week, I had to slow down and ask myself–“am I really spending my time in the wisest possible way?”
And the answer is an honest “no.”
I’m Not Doing What I Love
Here’s the thing.
My commercial work has dropped off a bit in the last few months. I was okay with that at first, because I figured that I could use more time to finish Unquickened and do a real marketing blitz and book launch and maybe also finish and release those Ian Mac Roy stories I wanted to do. And then I added a new project that was bigger than I initially thought it would be–namely, issuing new editions of Ravenmarked and Bloodbonded. I figured I would also need to spend some time blitzing and launching those as well.
Doing the social media and marketing for all of these fiction projects is exhausting. Honestly? I hate it. I like blogging, but the rest of it just sucks the life out of me.
And as I think ahead to doing MORE marketing–finding book reviewers, sending out e-mails and ARCs, looking for people to interview me, trying to plan big, shiny, attention-getting events, I just…
Well, basically I want to curl up with a book and some yarn and hide from everyone.
I just can’t do it, you guys. I just can’t write, edit, proofread, and do all the little required administrative things AND ALSO blog, set up social media posts, and promote the hell out of everything. Not only is it too much to do while trying to maintain client work, but it’s also not what I love to do.
And–and this is very important–no one really knows what makes fiction successful. So I could do ALL of that stuff and make nary a ripple in the world of fiction, or I could do all of that stuff and attract only one-star reviews, but the truth is that the chances of all of that stuff resulting in enough sales to quit writing commercial copy and hire a permanent team to do all the stuff I don’t like doing are slim to none.
You know what DOES result in a decent income?
And you know what I love doing?
Yup. Commercial writing.
Temporal and Physical Alignment
I have not been pushing the commercial side of my work for a while, but I think I’m ready to again. I can see the economic writing on the wall, and I want to focus more on the work that has some level of guaranteed income.
But also, aside from just the income side of the equation, I just really like writing for other people. The feedback is more reliable, the work is less personal, and the people are (mostly) delightful. Writing is so isolating, and yet with commercial work, I can connect with a variety of people from a variety of places with a variety of views and feel like I’m still “in the loop” in a more global sense. Plus, I get to research and write about interesting things from a wide range of industries and perspectives. At root, I’m a pretty curious person, and I like knowing a little bit about a lot of things.
Soooo… I’m realigning my priorities and focus to put things I love at the top of the list. Things I don’t love will go… not at the bottom, but much further down the list. And I’m only talking about work priorities here. At the top of the list, as ever, are the non-negotiables–family, faith, and self-care.
In the realm of work priorities, I’ll be restarting some moderate marketing activities to find a little more commercial work and focus on finding more good projects to sink my teeth into. This kind of marketing doesn’t suck my will to live, like fiction promotion does. I think it’s partly because I do more direct marketing with commercial work–reaching out to people one-on-one. That doesn’t feel as futile as just shouting “READ MY BOOK” into the void.
So going forward, the general writing priorities will be something like this:
- Commercial work, both current client projects and prospecting/marketing for more client work
- Writing, editing, and publishing the remaining books of The Taurin Chronicles
- Some moderate level of marketing/promoting The Taurin Chronicles
I figure that I can usually work about six to seven hours per weekday if I focus and don’t have anything else going on. Going forward, at least four of those will be focused toward commercial work. The other two or three will be fiction and administrative stuff–bookkeeping, taxes, filing, planning, and all the other weird little things self-employed people have to do. Any time I have leftover, or any spare hours I have on weekends when I’m bored and not reading or knitting–those can go into promoting my fiction.
I know this is counterintuitive. If you want to sell books, you have to promote, right?
But honestly, why bother when I have a perfectly good way of earning a good living that I love doing? Why not just keep the fiction as a hobby, fund the things I can’t do from the commercial writing income, and enjoy my life a lot more?
Because why do this at all if you spend too much time doing stuff you hate?
Maybe if I had a few more hours every day to do promotion, I could suck it up and bite the bullet and just do it. Or maybe if I liked it or had more faith that my novels could take off, I could take some time away from commercial writing and pour everything into fiction in the slim hope that something would catch fire. Maybe I’m just playing the safe game here by sticking with what I’m good at and not pushing the fiction.
I don’t know the answers to any of those things, and they’re all speculative anyway.
What I do know is that I love to write, and commercial work affords me the opportunity to write.
And so… that’s what I’ll do.