Off stride a bit…

I confess I’ve been off stride this past week. Fact is, after cranking out better than 42K the first two weeks of July, the last week has been an absolute bust. Less than 1300 words for the entire week!

In all fairness, it’s been a rather busy week at that. My Mom came up to visit us, and we’ve had some car repair issues on top of the kids needing to be ferried all over creation (okay, it’s mostly my wife who’s done that last bit – though I’ve done a little), and we’ve had get togethers on back to back Sundays. All of which conspires to almost nothing written. It’s going to take some effort to get back on track. The word counts I booked prior to this by going over my minimal word count of 2k won’t be enough to cover the loss of an entire week, so I’ll have to stretch to pull this off.

Which brings up what I think is the real culprit behind the word count fiasco. On at least two of my stories, I’ve felt the plot lines sorta getting away from me. And I’ve faced a set back on a third – meaning the heart of the story hasn’t even begun yet because I’m still dealing with leftover issues from the previous novel. It’s been a little disheartening. I suspect what I’ll have to do is sit down and outline these two books, see if I can’t get a handle on what’s supposed to happen so I can avoid any rabbit trails leading to rabbit holes.

On a side note, and perhaps related to the discouragement over all, is the realization that I haven’t approached my writing career as strategically as I ought to have. The prevailing wisdom is to write an individual series, and then release books in that series close together (like months, not years as in the traditional model) to avoid confusing the reader. Writing multiple series is all well and good, but typically this is done one at a time.

On the other hand, I can’t exactly back off on the books I currently have available to just concentrate on one series or another. Well, maybe I could, but I don’t think it would be beneficial overall.

Jefferson’s Road is the closest to being done series I have, so there’s no question I’ll keep writing that. My Janelle Becker books are the best selling series, so it makes sense to keep doing them as well. Given that Topheth has sold so little to this point, I suppose I could pull it down, rename it something more recognizable (I’m thinking of “Burning” or “The Burning”), and then sit on it until I’ve got at least two more Janelle stories ready to go.

Definitely can’t do that with the Jonathan Munro Adventures, so those books are off the table as far as this is concerned.

That leaves me also with the Dragon’s Eye Cycle – a different genre, admittedly, and the Spilled Milk books.  Would there be wisdom in pulling these books and then re-releasing them when I have the rest finished? I doubt it with Spilled Milk, but Eye of Darkness, possibly. I might consider changing the title, and then re-releasing it under a pseudonym, so that I don’t confuse readers with what Michael J. Scott writes. I haven’t sold so many that it’d make a huge dent in matters, so it’s something to consider.

Of course, Turning is still out there as well. I haven’t pushed this one at all, and there are far more to write. I could pull it and then finish more before resubmitting it.

But the real solution, I suspect, is to plan out an entire story arc for a series, write the books ahead of time, and then only release them one a month once they’re all finished, fully edited, and covers professionally done and consistent. I have two unfinished books that might serve toward that end, so I’m not exactly starting from scratch here. It will take some tweaking to make these two books – both stand alones – fit into a single series, but I believe I can pull it off.

So this will be the next strategy, even as I work on finishing the current series that I have. I’ll let you know if I decide to pull anything down and then release more strategically in the future.

7 thoughts on “Off stride a bit…

  1. Sorry to be part of the derailing, but it was a really nice visit. Thanks 🙂

    As to the writing strategies, sounds good. I am kinda glad you’re slowing down (except that it is in any way disheartening to you) because it allows me a chance to catch back up with you in reading all this stuff you write!! 😉

    Question: why do you think it would be better to release your fantasy genre novels under a pseudonym? How does it detract from those books or your others if your real name is on them?

    • It was a great visit – hope my whining here didn’t detract from that!

      As for the slowing down, I assure you, it ain’t deliberate. I do want, however, to try to get a firmer grip on these unruly plot lines before they run off a cliff.

  2. As Greg said, why would you release it under a pseudonym? I think you should let your readers know that you can write across several genres rather than suspense/thriller/adventure/action/thing genre. James Patterson has published a few romance novels under his name (if you ignore that about half of his books are ghost-written by now).

  3. @Greg and @Dave:

    The prevailing wisdom is that publishing different genres under the same name is confusing to readers. I can see the point: when I read John Grisham’s A Painted House, I was expecting a legal thriller because, after all, it’s John Grisham. That didn’t happen, and as a result, I was disappointed.

    Of course, with the fantasy novels, it’s pretty clear that they’re fantasy, not some contemporary “Action-Adventure/Thriller” thing, so maybe the wisdom doesn’t apply.

    If the idea is galactically stupid, I’ll claim sleep deprivation. 🙂

  4. I think you’re on the right track with finishing a series before going on to the next. J.K. Rowling did pretty well.

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