Last week I put up my hundredth short story, and it feels like an ideal moment to pause and take stock.
I started this site/blog back in 2016, a few months before publishing my first book (Dark Glass). From what I understood at the time, regular content was vital. So I planned to add something each week, alternating between short stories and posts on various aspects of books and reading. At the same time, I continued working on novels and other stories, while also learning (constantly learning!) about various aspects of marketing and advertising.
With a family and a full-time job, it was a lot to take on. But I persevered. I’ve added new content every week while also completing nine novels (and a few other books).
It’s been getting harder, though. Over the first couple of years, I’d have a few posts and stories in hand, but recently I’ve found myself working on them at the last minute, sometimes only starting the post or story a few days before my self-imposed deadline. That might show some kind of work ethic, but it doesn’t always give time for sufficient editing. Nor is that kind of pressure sustainable.
So it’s decision time.
Writing books is far more than tapping away on a keyboard. There’s planning, then writing, followed by many rounds of editing. After this, there’s marketing—cover, product description and back cover copy, advertising and so on. To do this effectively requires both time and money. The whole publishing/writing industry is in constant flux, so I also need to keep up to date (I do this mainly through a number of podcasts.)
As I’m not a full-time writer, I need to find a way to make it self-sustaining without risking burn-out. To do this, I need to focus on two areas—producing stories and finding readers who will appreciate them.
The first of these areas—producing stories—is the ‘writing’ stuff (including planning and editing). I’m currently working on a trilogy of books, with the aim to publish them in the spring of 2021. Work’s going well, but I need to be focused, and use my time effectively. I can’t afford to be side-tracked (too often).
The second area—finding readers—involves some ‘book production’ (cover and product description) along with all the marketing stuff. This is huge, and I know I can’t do everything. But producing books isn’t free, and I need to cover these costs somehow—so I have to market. At the moment I’m spending a lot of time understanding Amazon Ads, and I don’t want to lose momentum in this.
While my website/blog could come under marketing, I don’t feel that the time spent is adequately compensated by the benefits (getting my name out there, finding new readers and so on). So it’s no longer a priority, and I’m scaling it back.
That doesn’t mean I’m not going to add anything new. I’ll still write short stories (they’re fun to work on, ideal as a break between longer projects, and a great way to improve my writing), but I won’t tie myself to one every fortnight. Nor will I limit myself to 1000 words. And I’ll still add posts, but only when I feel I have something to write about.
This might not be too infrequently, though. I’m constantly learning, and one of the best ways to consolidate learning is to summarise it—which, for me, means writing it down. If I have this stuff already written, then why not run it through a couple of editing passes and post it?
So I’m not going away, just shifting priorities.