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Saturday, February 9, 2019

What to do next?
An author's dilemma

Normally I just post a promotion for one of my books on here, but today I am going to do something different. I'm going to rant a little. Not anything political or change the world kind of thing, more a personal thing.

When I started in this industry back in 2014 I was stunned when a publisher wanted my first book. I was so excited and scared all at the same time. I had no idea what I was doing and unfortunately the publisher really didn't offer me much help.

Because of this my first few books, although I still love them, were a mess. An editor and readers nightmare as far as I am concerned, and to this day whenever I read any of those first few books, I still cringe from all the errors. I can't wait until I get those copyrights back. The first thing I will do with them is to send them to my new personal editor and I will go over them with a fine toothed comb to make sure all the errors are fixed.

After getting hit a few times from readers about the poor state of the editing, which I had no idea I had any control of at the time, I finally reached out to other authors who also wrote for this publisher. Some told me it was unfortunate but something we had to deal with, while others told me, no, if you are not happy call the publisher and tell them.

So after that I started really paying attention to my books as they went through the process the publisher puts them through. I went as far as finding a personal editor and paying her to go over the books even after the publishers editor's went through them twice. And to my shock, my editor still found so many errors.

I was already paying the publisher to do that work, so why should I have to pay another editor to do something the publisher was already being paid for? Well, for me it was about product and my name being on that product.

I, like most people, work very hard for their money and when I spend that money I want to make sure I get the best product for that money. With that in mind, as myself as a consumer and an avid reader, I was and still am so completely honored when someone spends that hard earned money on one of my books. So to honor them, I want to give them the best possible product I can. So the extra cost was and is still worth it to me.

As the months passed and I put out more books, I was still not happy with the editing of my books with my publisher and after many emails and phone calls with them I realized no matter what I said nothing was really going to change, so it would be up to me to make sure my work went out with the least amount of issues.

Now, I must say, no matter who the editor is, there will always be mistakes. People are human and mistakes are a part of being human. I do not expect anyone to be perfect, just to do their best. And honestly, I have been through a few personal editors over the past three years for one issue or another. Only once has it been about the work that was being sent back to me, or should I say the lack of work. So as a business decision, I had to let her go. Not that she was a bad person, because she wasn't. She was a very nice lady and I liked her a lot. But it wasn't personal, it was business. So I had to find someone else.

Now since then I have had some great editors who I have absolutely adored as people and respected as business associate's. Unfortunately, because of personal reasons for my past two editor's they needed to step back and focus on their families, which I completely understand. To me and anyone who knows me, or reads my books, family is the most important thing in the world to me.

So a few months ago I found and hired another amazing editor, and so far things are going fantastic and I love her to death. She is very professional, does and amazing job, her prices are reasonable, and the time she takes to edit my work is reasonable. I don't see me changing editor's again any time soon unless something unforeseen happens.

But in actuality, editing is not really what my rant is about today. It all started because of my publishers lack of care when it comes to editing. As I kept working and putting books out and getting frustrated, other authors started telling me that I should think about doing other books beside the series I was working on and gaining a big following for, despite all the editing issues.

I heard many times that I shouldn't be a one trick pony and give my readers more options. So I started writing other books. A stand alone and another series, but I still had to send them to the same publisher and still had to go through all the problems and headaches.

But I continued on and kept writing because I love it so much and more series began to come to me and grow, but I didn't want to send them to the publisher anymore. So I started asking around and doing research and began self publishing. Best decision I ever made.

But now everything was totally on me. Hiring an editor, which I already had, getting a proofreader and finding a cover artist. Then paying all of them. But thank the stars above it all worked out wonderfully for me. And the fact that I was an art student when I was younger and I have a degree in Photography, all helped and I have been teaching myself how to do covers. So now I do work with one cover artist for some of my work, while I do some of my own covers.

Now that I have my foot firmly placed in the self pub world and I pretty much know what I am doing, my big dilemma is what book to write next?

That is really what my whole rant is about and an issue I know many other author's face. When I was told not to put all my eggs in one basket and to offer my readers more book options, I started a few series. Now, as of today, I also started another two series. My readers don't even know about these two yet. LOL.

Also, three years ago I started working with another author and we joined to do a small series of 6-8 books. Yeah well, that series was such a success and the readers love it so much that they yelled for more. So what was supposed to be a quick little series has now turned into us working together for three years and 3 spin off series to that original series, which now is up to I think book 12. All together in those four series we have written about 26 books in three years. Plus each writing our own personal books. No wonder I'm tired. LOL.

The good part about it is we work so well together and we both love the series and the characters we created just as much as our readers do and we are having a blast writing these books. But that means the dilemma grows.

Which book next?

Now, I am a fluid writer, which means I don't write an outline when I write. I don't break it down like some authors do and have everything planned from start to finish before I start writing. Some authors make lists, they want this, this, and this in chapter one, then so on for each chapter until the end and once they have all of that then they start writing.

Not how my mind works. Neither does my co-author on those other books I mentioned. She works exactly like I do, which is why I think we get along so well and work good together.

So, I am a fluid writer. Ideas pop into my head and certain characters will talk to me. Whole visions of scenes will come to me with those characters talking as I am driving, or in the shower, or cooking dinner, then I will quickly go write those ideas down.

With those in mind, the story starts to build in my head and as it does and the characters start talking to me, I start writing. Sometimes I can go 4-5 chapters with them whispering in my ear before they stop talking and give me a break. Sometimes that break is a day or two and other times it can be weeks before they start talking again. Which can be a real pain in the ass at times.

Sometimes I have multiple characters from multiple series talking to me all at once and I can't keep up and I write for days jumping around from one book to the other, writing a chapter at a time in each. Then I need to go back the next day and make sure I didn't put the wrong people in the wrong books. LOL.

Then there are other times when no one is talking and writing each sentence is a struggle and like trying to pull healthy teeth. Very frustrating and can last for weeks at times.

But then I hear the grumbling from readers about when the next book is coming out. God bless my readers, because I swear to god I really have the best readers in the world. But I do get so many request sometimes that I get worried I will disappoint them. In one week I will be contacted by say ten readers each asking when the next book will be coming out, but they each want it from a different series.

Yes, I no longer have that one series and now have many, but boy it does make it harder at times. I do have 32 open works in progress all from all my current and now two new series. Each has at least 3 chapters written, some more, but none nowhere near ready to be finished. Then there is the one that all my readers are yelling for, but that one hasn't spoken for months, and others have, so the focus goes on the ones that are talking.

So that is my dilemma and my rant, I feel like I am letting my readers down by not getting out the books they want, but at the same time, because I am a fluid writer, I don't force it. I will never force a story because I can tell you with a hundred percent certainty, that the readers can tell when you do. There is a change, even slightly, in the way you write or how you let the characters talk and interact with one another and the readers will pick up on it. So I will never force a story and always wait for my characters to talk to me.

So the point is, the frustration is real, but it's the reality of the beast that is this industry. So which book do I write next? Which series do I try to focus my mind on and put out the next book? Which of the 32 open works in progress will I finish next? I haven't got a clue, but I can tell you this, having this problem is a real problem for writers, but in the grand scheme of things it's really not a problem and I should be happy that this is my issue and not something bigger.

So, which will I work on next? Hmmmmmmm. Now that is the question.


For more information on Maggie Walsh and her work, please visit her website at:
www.maggiewalshauthor.weebly.com


1 comment:

Tina Donahue said...

You can't force a book that won't be written, Maggie. God knows, I tried to write according to style for a few houses and never could crack that particular nut.

If a publisher doesn't take care with editing, you definitely do not want to be with that publisher. When there are errors, the readers will blame that on you, no one else.

I'm glad you found another way around your dilemma. Write what's in your heart. IMO, that's the only way you can please your fans.