In tour news, in case you missed it, yesterday I was hosted by Nicole Peeler where I talked about the Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle. Today I’m being interviewed by Sherri Meyer, my fantastic source who actually WENT DOWN TO THE ER of the hospital Gage goes to after he gets to Vegas and sent me detailed notes on what it looked like. Because she’s awesome like that. She even had a countdown timer on her blog for when I was coming to visit. How cool is that?
So the other day I mentioned my Ten Year Plan. If you’ve hung out here at all, you already know I’m big on plans and goals. It doesn’t so much matter if those plans or goals come to fruition, but I have a compulsion to make them. It’s all part of my freakishly Type A, organized personality. Sue me.
My Ten Year plan has changed dramatically since I got out of graduate school and started taking writing seriously. At that point I felt all this pressure of having wasted time doing all these other practical, sensible things (like finishing my graduate degree for a job I didn’t really want), and I was desperate to catch up. All these successful writers I knew were in their late thirties or older, having to put things off until after they had kids. I didn’t and don’t want to wait that long. I didn’t want kids in my twenties and I didn’t have them. I’m sure as hell not interested in putting my writing career on hold until my forties, staying stuck in a job I hate, just so that I can raise little crumb crunchers. That way lies madness. So when I got out of graduate school, I buckled down. I got a fabulous crit partner. I started finishing stuff. The goal was to produce something good that was going to land me an agent and a book deal by the time I had my first kid. At that time, it was about a five or six year window, so it seemed like a reasonable goal.
During that time most of my friends had kids. I adore all of my adopted nieces and nephews. They’re a great deal of fun to play with. Then I get to give them back. But the prevailing observation I had was that kids are a lot of work and the notion of being on a New York deadline while sleep deprived, nursing, and trying to juggle babies and evil day jobs was a recipe for disaster and a crappy book. It was like watching my dream get pushed further and further away. As if Fate was playing some kind of cruel joke on me. Ha ha! You’re going to be stuck in sucky jobs with a lousy boss and have no time to do a thing for yourself toward your own dream when you get home because kids require 24/7 attention and effort and you’ll have nothing left for yourself. (As a trained psychologist, I’m well aware that all of this is a big giant neon sign that I am not ready for kids.)
But I moved on. I worked on craft. I improved my work. I worked on expanding my platform. It’s all stuff that had to be done whether I succeeded this year or in ten. Then I met Zoe Winters, the proudest indie writer I know (in the best possible sense). I was totally supportive of what she was doing but I didn’t think it was for me. But she had such success building her following and platform by releasing her novella Kept that I thought she was onto something. I could release a novella, build a platform, and have a group of people who would already be interested when I traditionally published more of the series. Enter Forsaken By Shadow.
During the course of writing and releasing it, there have been a lot of changes in publishing, which I’ve talked about elsewhere. The end result is that in the current economy, it’s even harder for traditionally published authors to make a living doing what they do. Advice on agent and editor blogs lately has been overwhelmingly “don’t quit your day job.” Sorry, but that’s the goal. I hate my day job. I want to write, for Pete’s sake. And here’s Joe Konrath over here making money hand over fist self-publishing on Kindle (even if Publisher’s Weekly is in total denial about it). So the plan got adjusted.
Forsaken By Shadow is the first step in a new Ten Year Plan (starting this year) to begin building my grassroots following. Like many people pursuing an indie path, I believe in producing a solid product that’s been vetted by individuals who care about the quality of the work. I am providing a professional quality product. And I’m managing to do it all without a year or two delay between end of writing and availability to reader. That’s really appealing to me. Because while building a grassroots following is slow and takes more time than a big publisher funded media blitz, it DOES allow me to get more product out there faster. I feel like that allows me to make up for lost time.
So here’s the plan. Forsaken By Shadow is very slowly catching on. It’s gotten very positive responses across the board except for some person who left a drive by 1 star review on Barnes and Noble with no explanation as to what they didn’t care for. By the time I put out Revelation (the first full length novel in the series), I expect profits from FBS to have paid for my expenses to produce it (the $35 copyright fee, $50 cover cost, $30 in stock photos because I changed my mind, and $10 toward my promo contest). If I were to sell only on Amazon (my lowest royalty rate since I don’t meet the $2.99 threshold for the 70% rate), that’s 357 copies. I can totally manage that by November. It’s not a huge chunk of cash, but it’s exposure. Building a following takes time. Revelation will help build on that, expanding the fanbase. I expect to release a novella and a full length novel a year for the next three years, at the end of which time I’ll be having my first crumb cruncher and expect to be able to replace my two-part time jobs with the passive income stream from sales from the then (theoretically) 6 released works.
I have no idea what having a kid is going to do to my production (other than the obvious decrease it), so I’d probably expect to dial back to one SOMETHING a year until my kid is old enough to go to school. I do not respond well to lack of sleep, so I expect that first year to be BAD. In any event, going with a rate of one book or novella a year after having a kid until he or she is school age, and then back to a schedule of 2 a year, in 10 years, I should have fifteen titles out under my name. And I fully expect that by the time I’m 40, I will be earning enough off those titles to quit the evil day job I hate and write full-time. And I’ll have earned a justifiable pppppppppppbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttttttttt to my mother, who said I couldn’t make a living writing. Because I’m such a grown up about that.
So that’s it. That’s the plan. And if New York happens to come a knocking, I’ll listen. If they make a good enough offer, I’ll take it. In a decade, maybe publishing will have pulled its collective head out of its butt and realized that ebooks are the wave of the future and not something to try to bury.