Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Insecure Writer's Support Group


Alex said to share our fears and/or a word of encouragement. I hope to do both.

One of my greatest fears right now is that my YA series, The Circle of Friends, will be the only fiction I ever write. I didn’t even intend to write YA. And it’s been such a battle.

YA needs to be edgy, paranormal, controversial, salacious… and my books are none of these things. They have realistic elements, but I didn’t want to delve into the darker things. I wanted to inspire. I’m an optimist who believes in happy endings.

I’m also aware of the improvements I’ve made over the years as a writer, but I know so many will miss that. The best thing I ever wrote was the fifth and final book of the series, and I’m sure many will never get to that book, even though all of the books are stand alones.

And after my experiences with one non-fiction title (and I’m working on another) I realize how hard it is to sell fiction. Non-fiction is so much easier. So while I have an idea for another fiction book (it already has a title, Four in Darkness) I doubt I will ever write it.

I guess if I could offer any of you encouragement or advice, it would be to diversify. Not necessarily in genre, but in what else you do beside write to make money. I’ve been a professional speaker for five years (and member of the NSA) and that is what pays the bills. I also do private consulting and book formatting. But it is these things that keep me going, keep the money coming in so I don’t have to get a J-O-B.

You might not make enough money to quit your job, but with the market changing so fast, diversifying is a good idea. And if you’re an author, you are an expert at something - capitalize on that talent and knowledge!

36 comments:

  1. I think diversifying is great advice. I'm trying very hard to get a 'proper' job right now.

    I wish you the best of luck with your YA series.

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  2. Wonderful to read, I wish you all the best with your YA series.

    Have a good day.
    Yvonne.

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  3. I'm going to be the odd person out here, but I hope you're not going to give up on your fiction! You do a fantastic job with your public speaking and nonfiction...and you can sell your fiction alongside it on a bookmark, etc. You don't have to direct market it. Hope "Four in Darkness" will get written. :)

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  4. Elizabeth, thank you. I hope the spark of enthusiasm for fiction returns.

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  5. When I read this, "YA needs to be edgy, paranormal, controversial, salacious" I thought I was in trouble because I don't have those things either. Great post, need to diversify.

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  6. Why worry if you write any more fiction since non-fiction sells better and it's what you feel more comfortable with? I can think of a half dozen books you could write just from reading your blog over the past year that people would benefit from, you have a knack at the how-to kind of thing, and that's not an easy skill.

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  7. Diversification, I think, is the key to being successful in any career these days. With the economy the way it is, you have to do what you have to do to make money.

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  8. Diane, your whole post was wonderful encouragement.

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  9. Diversification has additional merits...such as exposure to things you can later write about. I wish you the best, regardless of what type of writing you pursue!

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  10. I hope you continue writing, too! As long as your other ventures are successful enough to keep the bills paid, why not?

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  11. Diane, if the fiction calls to you, I'd say write it and don't worry about the "market." If not, let it go and keep doing what is working. For me, I have to write what my heart compels me to write, but luckily, I'm in a position where I don't have to earn money. If I did, I'd be sunk. Diversify is great advice for those who are making writing a career.
    Karen

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  12. Not every teen faces such dark issues--I hope mine never have to--so I like that your series keeps things a bit lighter and more hopeful.

    Diversifying is an excellent tip. Seems to be a misconception out there about money suddenly rolling in upon publication. And working at other things is what gives us the life experience that keeps our books so very scintillating, right. ;)

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  13. Great advice. Fiction is fun, but it is so competitive and requires convincing people to read. The non-fiction provides the platform of expertise that can allow the selling opportunities of speaking engagements and the like where it's easier to put your book out there for the folks who want more of what you have to offer. These days I don't think anyone can be overly diversified with things changing the way they do.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  14. Great ideas! My JOB is pretty good, so I'm not desperate, but I'd much rather be writing, or doing related work as you are.
    I know that paranormal is "hot" now, but I have fond memories of reading YA that was very real-world. I hope that there's still an audience for it, but these things are all cyclicle, eh?

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  15. Well, there is one other route - wait until you retire to start seriously trying to get published. Saves the worry about the whole J-O-B thing.

    Unfortunately, that also puts you at square one at the ripe of age of...um, never mind.

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  16. Great advice! Thank you for sharing.

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  17. Man, I don't know HOW you could give up on fiction. I write scientifically by day and I don't get nearly the same kind of satisfaction from it. I get a different kind, because I believe in the science, but it's not so tied to who I am--the core of my being.

    I am the wrong sort for any other kind of serious non-fiction, and DEFINITELY nothing live... I'm shy and retiring, you know... erm... But seriously, my brain works at about the speed I can type.

    I am diversifying to the extent that I have a couple genres going--one that i think is pretty easy to keep writing in--bread and butter (mystery) and one I hope to someday hit homerun status with (YA--yes, dark and edgy, but I see a lot of YA that is happier--coming of age and such)

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  18. Clarissa, that just seems to be what sells.

    Karen, thank you.

    Matthew, that is true.

    Nicki, they are far more positive than most of the YA I've read.

    Will, then I hope it cycles back soon.

    Hart, right now the non-fiction is coming easier and I know there's a market for it.

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  19. Can I count creating the support group as diversifying? Hope you don't give up on your fiction writing.

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  20. Great post... I say do a little bit of what you fancy, whatever that is, as well as as much of whatever pays the bills as is nesessary. And for those lucky few where these two things are one and the same, go pat yourselves on the back and try not to look too smug :)
    Lx

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  21. I've pondered writing a non-fiction book, but honestly, I don't know what I would write. A cook book? DIY? How to perform your own denistry? Splitting Atoms for Dummies?

    I'm just not an expert in any one thing. Guess I'll have to stick with fiction.

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  22. Laura, I'm too crazy busy to be smug!

    Splitting Atoms for Dummies - LOL! That's a good one, Stephen. Maybe you should write it.

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  23. Great advice. I write two different genres of fiction and that keeps my motivations fresh.

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  24. You're so right about nonfiction selling much better than fiction, but I have no desire (at this point) to write nonfiction. Best of luck to you with your YA novel. There's nothing wrong with inspiring books, not at all. There are lots of teens who like those more than the dark stories. I like both!

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  25. I second Karen Walker's comment. If you time is taken up by non-fiction projects that make money that's not a bad thing.

    I think we make time to do the things we love. No matter how bogged down I get with kids, cleaning, and stuff, I still read. It's my passion. Now I just need to push a little harder to give my writing that kind of dedication!

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  26. I'm slowly writing a teen inspiration novel. Interestingly I read it was the most published genre in Christian Fiction. Gosh, I hope I get it finished before I'm 50 but, either way, it's a story idea I feel compelled to finish, and learn from too. If your next fiction idea brews to over-boiling, I hope you consider writing it down! Photography is my other 'non-lucrative' activity, and thankfully I have a job to support the gear. But it sure we be nice to be making a few dollars on both...!

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  27. Lynn, I guess I'm lucky I have made money at both.

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  28. I'm afraid I write too slowly to produce the amount of fiction I have in my head.

    There. I said it.

    Can I have a drink now? :)

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  29. You can make money from writing? All this time I've been writing for free. I can't wait to quit my day job.

    I found you through the blog hop. I hope to join in soon.

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  30. Thanks for sharing, Diane. Finding that something that I'm an expert at is the difficult part, especially since I'd be looking for something fairly unique and worthy of talking or writing about!

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  31. It takes a lot of courage to admit about one's fear. Thanks for sharing.

    For fiction writing, I agree with you. I like optimistic and happy ending ones too. I know vampires are hit now but I don't particularly like them. That's why I'm not writing it. I prefer to write what I love.

    Perhaps you can write for seniors. With ageing population, it will be a big target group and I think many of them like more optimistic fiction to read.

    Every Savage Can Reproduce

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  32. Why does YA have to be paranormal? I've read very good YA books that have not been on the paranormal side. There are those kids out there who might find that refreshing. My daughter and her friends got a lot of flack for even looking at Twilight. Didn't stop them from reading it, but I know lots of teens who are looking for the non-paranormal element as well.
    Anyway, off of that rant, I have at least 4 fantasy books waiting in the wings, part of a series. I also have a couple of other genres I am writing in as well and I absolutely agree with your diversity comments. Have to be diverse. Good luck with your writing!

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  33. Simon, I'll get you a drinking cat next week.

    Enid, that's a thought.

    Caledonia, I'd like to find those teenagers who like optimistic books without vampires.

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  34. Chiming in a bit late here, but I believe this is important not just for writers, but for modern consumers in general.

    I'm an engineer, and I tell new-hires to remember this: You do ~not~ have a job -- you're just between layoffs.

    I keep my feet in several camps, enough that if one folds I can make a go at the other camp. I program, write, I'm an engineer, and I have some other marketable skills. Heck, I'm even a pretty good carpenter and after a year or so of apprenticeship I bet I could make a fine go at cabinetry or other general carpentry projects.

    A man at a bar once told me this fine piece of beerly advice (which is the best and most honestest advice you'll get, over beer that is) -- you should always have FOUR sources of income.

    There you go.

    - Eric

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