All those years of wanting to write and not being able to, at least for sustained periods of time, taught me a few things.
During the past few years I have spent my unhappy, tortured not-writing time doing research on various aspects of writing. Reading books about writing, listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos. Somehow even amassing a fairly large amount of knowledge about writing didn't actually lead to getting any writing done. Is that surprising? No.
Things started changing for me when I found Chris Fox and his write to market, indie publishing ideas. Wow, that really spoke to me and made the idea of being a writer (and an author) more accessible, and exciting. After spending so much time reading about how to write a query letter and how to tell good agents from scammers, this changed everything in my mind.
The publishing industry has completely changed over the past couple of decades. Everything print related has, really, but book publishing in particular. Like Chris Fox says, it just depends on what kind of writer I want to be. Do I want to be a writer who works with an agent and a publishing house and doesn't make enough money to quit my job sitting in a cubicle and looking at spreadsheets? Or do I want to write full time and make a living as an author?
It's so accessible now. Anyone, literally, can write something and throw it up for sale in the Kindle store on Amazon. Whether or not that person is successful is a different story, but if they spend a little time and money on things like an editor, a cover designer, a website with an email sign up and a newsletter, maybe some advertising, then they can make a living. And it goes beyond Kindle, an author can self-publish on iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and even use print services to get physical books into libraries, bookstores, schools.
I don't need to pay an agent. I don't need to give a publisher control over things like cover design, or including diverse characters, or dark themes. It doesn't need to take so long, often a year, for a finished work to be edited and released.
It's kind of amazing.
The whole "write to market" concept is to figure out what types of books I like to read, find out what types of books are likely to sell, and my target market is at the intersection of those two circles on my imaginary Venn diagram. In my case, that appears to be contemporary romance, medium heat level, with a "competence porn" aspect.
Competence porn is one of a million romance novel tropes; it doesn't mean porn. It's basically a book that showcases the expertise of the main character at something, usually her job. One example of this is Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susanna Nix, where the main character is a chemical engineer who works for the patent office verifying the validity of scientific patent applications. Ideally the competence porn part is something that is tied into the plot, at least peripherally.
So as of today, I have around 53,000 words written in what the romance novel market tells me should be a 60,000-70,000 word novel. It's currently a first draft mess, with the last two chapters still to be written, and a bunch of other chapters with chunks still missing.
My plan is to finish the first draft by early to mid-October and then spend a couple of weeks on the outline for the next book. Outlining this one helped tremendously; next time I want to have an even more detailed and specific outline.
Writing to market in the romance genre also means writing a series, so I'm going for three stand-alone novels that are tied together by workplace and overlapping characters.
For the next book I'm hoping to use NaNoWriMo goals and inspiration to increase my daily word count. I started this one the first week of May, so it's taken me five months to write. I'm simultaneously proud of myself for finally having started and for getting this far while also kind of beating myself up for not writing faster.
In the whole write to market, indie publishing game, it's a widely accepted benchmark to have a backlist of 20 books before an author can make a living from their indie published writing alone. I need to write faster. :)