I… am a writer.
This is something I’ve been struggling with lately. And damn y’all, I wish I didn’t struggle so much with so many things, especially when it comes to this writing business.
At the same time, with each struggle, whether internal or external, mental or emotional, I learn something new about myself. This is a really good thing. And… by the time I’m 100, I should have my path pretty much figured out.
In all seriousness, though, I have been struggling with relevance in regards to book length. Can I still call it a book if it’s a novella? Do I call it a story? Is it worth publishing? Charging for? Is it worth even bothering at all?
I have written short short stories before… 3000-5000 words.
I have written longer short stories, too… 10000-15000 words.
I have written many novellas… 18000-40000 words.
I have also written 45000, 50000, almost 60000 words.
That novella line though… more than 25 of those in the years I’ve been publishing.
There are some authors who make a really good living writing novellas. They publishing 10 or so a year. They charge $0.99 for them most of the time. And they’re usually part of a series, released in quick or at least methodical succession. This is something to learn from. Something to watch closely for someone like me who writes novellas.
My writing productivity has fallen off the last few years as all of you know. Self publishing has made me incredibly uncomfortable and doubtful in my ability to write. While it’s giving many authors a sense of power, it’s given me a great deal of anxiety and stress and way too many ‘what the fuck am I even doing anymore?’ moments. This has to change. There is no choice, no other option but for it to change.
And as the two big small press publishers have closed their doors in the last 60 days and the books that had been published with them revert back to me… It’s the majority of my catalog. 15 titles between Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. I have several titles that have reverted to me from Loose Id as well. All of them… there’s 18 in total… They’re novellas.
It’s my preferred length. That’s obvious.
I can write longer. I can write shorter.
But there’s a lot that can be done with novellas. It’s something I’d forgotten. It’s something I’d pushed to the back of my mind in the face of conversations that talk only of the success and desire for novels of 70000-120000 words. I don’t write that. I don’t even read that most of the time anymore.
Then, I began looking again at those who do write novellas and who do find success with them. And I remembered a conversation I had with someone in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds division about the success that writers are having writing novellas in different worlds.
I suddenly felt foolish at having doubted myself and what I wrote. For years I made money and wrote a lot of words in a lot of different stories that touched a lot of different people who still talk about those characters and want them.
So, yes… I… am a writer.
And that’s pretty damn awesome. It took me a long ass time to come back around to that realization. And it’s a strength, not a weakness as I was trying to convince myself it was, as others tried to convince me it was. Maybe for those writers, it is their weakness. But it’s not mine.
I think I’m going to take a page put of Kathleen Kelly’s book in You’ve Got Mail and begin as though we’re in the middle of a conversation… Or, maybe I’ll just talk. Or maybe… Who knows…
I’ve been writing and wondering and second guessing every word, every phrase, every scene. Time is really of the essence and I don’t have it to waste. This is a busy writing year. Or supposed to be.
See, I’m going to end something in a way that will pass off the majority of people who read it. That’s just all there is to it.
It’s like in Stranger Than Fiction. Emma Thompson’s character Karen is at a point in her novel where she doesn’t know how to kill off her main character. She doesn’t believe in writer’s block, but she’s struggling to land on the death of this man.
I was struggling, too. Not on how to kill a character, but on how to end a book.
How do you end something when you never intended it to be what it became? How do you do that without passing people off? The truth is, you can’t. I can’t.
People will hate it. Readers will be disappointed. Upset. And that’s rather daunting for me and perhaps other writers as well. To know that I’ve written a tale that has made someone else FEEL something.
But if those who read it, dislike it… Then I’ve done my job. Then I’ve stayed true to what had evolved across the pages. Do I want that? To have my words disliked, my work reviewed harshly? No. I’d rather people love it. It’s much easier when they love it than when they hate it. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
Staying true to the work, to the words, to the characters… That’s my real duty. And once I freed my brain of the knots holding my creativity hostage, the What if’s, the Maybe I should’s, the Oh no, I can’t do that’s… That’s when I landed on what I am supposed to do, what the characters and events are leading me toward.
After all, it’s their story. Not mine. Not yours, the readers. But the story belongs to the characters.
One of my favorite lines in yet another movie, Wonder Boys, a classmate says of another’s writing, “He respects us enough to forget us. And that takes courage.”
I’ve quoted that line before on the blog and it has relevance here again.
I respect everyone who reads my books. I respect their opinions, whether good or bad. But I can’t write the story anyone else wants. I can’t only write the story that belongs to the characters who’ve come to life through me.
(Movie images courtesy of IMDB)
Which are you? Are you both? Is there a difference? If so, what?
I was following a discussion on Twitter the other night and a comment was made regarding this…that fan-base is different from readers and that a fan-base may drive otherwise dismal sales. Now, they were speaking of a particular author, but it got me thinking about this and has made me curious.
Who are you a fan of? Who are you simply a reader of? What makes you one or the other?
I have been a fan of some authors. I would buy every book they wrote without reading the blurb or knowing anything about the book at all. I’d simply buy the new one when it came out.
I have been a dedicated reader of some authors. I would buy the majority of what they wrote, but not everything and definitely not without reading the blurb and flipping through some of the pages.
I have been a casual reader as well. If I need a new book to read, I may pick up a book on a whim from an author I’ve never read or a book that I’ve been eyeing but wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the time reading.
I’ve drifted away from being a fan of most authors nowadays. I like a lot of authors, but very few are autobuys for me, and even still, some of my autobuys include one author’s series but maybe not another series by that same author or may not even be the same genre. For instance, I will autobuy Dakota Cassidy’s Ex-Trophy Wives series books, but I won’t buy her paranormal books anymore because her paranormal voice doesn’t work for me. If Julie Garwood still wrote her medieval romances I’d autobuy those, but her contemporary did nothing to draw me in. Julia Quinn whom I adored and read non-stop is no longer an autobuy for me because all her books started sounding the same, only the character names were different. I do autobuy all books by Cameron Dane, no matter what genre. I autobuy Ava March’s male/male ebooks, but not her NY historicals. I will buy all of Shayla Black’s books in her Wicked Ties series no matter what. These are just a few examples. However, not many NY books are autobuys at all anymore simply because ebook prices for most (set by NY publishers, I know) are just too high for me to feel comfortable spending on a digital book.
So, are you a fan or a reader? More or less of either? And who are some of your autobuys?
Are you curious about the title? Good.
The theme for Snippet Saturday this Saturday, December 4th, is Author’s Choice. I choose every week which book to pick from, so, I decided to do a poll of my readers. What book was your favorite? What book would you like to see a snippet from?
You have until Thursday afternoon to answer as I will be creating the post on Thursday night. The only two books off limits for this one are Arrested Holiday, which comes out on Tuesday, December 7th and Ink Spots because it’s still in edits.
Come discover love unleashed with Loose Id’s authors at the Coffee Time Romance Readers’ Retreat starting March 1st. Something will be going on everyday until March 20th. Learn about how your favorite Loose Id authors write, what they are working on, and more. Participating writers include: