Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG Wednesday: The Start to a Great Year

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thank you again to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of the group. The first Wednesday of every month is dedicated to this group of supportive writers. If it's something you're not familiar with, then please click on Alex's link above for more information and to sign up!

I’m excited for 2015. I began this writing journey at the end of 2008 with an idea for a young adult series, and this will be the year I finally finish. I hope to have all four books released sometime this summer, hopefully early summer, but everything seems to take longer than anticipated. I won’t beat myself up over a couple of months. Mark my words: it will get done this year!

This week I received the cover for the third book, Doria Falls, and I’m very happy with how well it came out. So now there’s just one cover to go. The covers are visual representations of finished books for me, so they’ll light the necessary New Year’s fire to get this final book done. I’ve put off all promotion with the writing of these last two books just because that would have prolonged the writing process even longer, which was too hard to accept. These books are my training wheels, and at this stage in the game, it’s much more important to focus on bettering the craft than selling books. When I’m more competent and confident, I can find the more appropriate balance.

There are quite a few things that these books in the currently evolving publishing environment have taught me. Here is a short sampling of what I’ve learned:

  • Long books are not my friend: When I started writing, I was inspired by the Harry Potter books. There was something cool about having 700 page hard covers. With most books for self-published authors being sold as ebooks, that coolness factor becomes irrelevant. For me as a self-published author (and at the pace of which I write), it is better to have two shorter books available than one longer book. SUSY Asylum clocked in at 120,000 words, which is quite a bit longer than the other books in the series. Going forward, 60,000 – 70,000 words is a more appropriate length, which in turn will help me add more titles to my backlog.
  • Don’t end on cliffhangers: I will no longer write books that end on cliffhangers because I don’t write fast enough to keep readers happy (or at least I won’t while I still work fulltime). I actually like cliffhangers, but they don’t currently work for my writing. With the books in my current series having cliffhangers, I felt like I had to finish the series before moving onto something new. If I decide to write a serial at some point, then I’ll most likely use cliffhangers (but that’s another discussion entirely).
  • Don’t create a new Createspace file for a reissue: When you create a new Createspace file/page for a reissue it creates a new Amazon page for that book. I did that with Provex City. What I didn’t know at the time was I couldn’t delete the old page. So now I have one Provex City paperback Amazon page that simply says “currently unavailable.” Also, if I unlink that page from other formats of the book, I lose all the reviews originally written on that page. Amazon will not move reviews from one page to another even though they’re for the same book (just different formats). This was a frustrating lesson.
  • Don’t pay for ISBNs: This one goes along with the bullet point above. I created a new Createspace page (which in turn creates a new Amazon page) for the reissue of Provex City to give it a custom ISBN number. I wanted the option that if Provex City ever made it into libraries, then it wouldn’t need a new ISBN number. This is just a waste of money. If my future self published books make it into libraries one day, they’ll just need to be reassigned a new ISBN number. Why worry about that now (and pay $99 for it).
  • Try new genres: The digital bookstore of ebooks make an author’s expansion into multiple genres easier than ever. Why not intentionally try to reach more readers? Some genres may sell better than others for you. You may write some genres better than others. You may enjoy writing some genres better than others (which may not be the genre you started with). So why deprive yourself? Sample all the flavors.
Those are enough of my mistakes for one post, but I am thankful for the learning experiences. Though the day I stop messing up is most likely the day I quit--it's all part of the process, the journey, the adventure. Give yourself permission to screw up because at least you're trying. 2015 can be the greatest year ever or it can be a year that passes by without incident. You get to decide.


  1. That's a bummer about the Amazon pages.
    I learned quickly that I will never write a long book. Somewhere around 75,000 words is my comfort zone.
    Two more books - you can do it, Michael!

  2. Happy New Year, Michael! Congratulations on Book #3. I know you will crank out the next two. And I'm with you, long books are not my friends either. Love reading them but wow they are hard to write LOL.

  3. You really had my attention with the cliffhanger thing, It takes me a while to finish a book too so I’ll seriously consider this. What an educational post! Thanks for sharing and congrats on the series to come :)

  4. There's great advice in this post! I'm glad I clicked on it. I can't wait for your third book. If it's as good as the first two, I'm sure I'll be spellbound. And you know what, cliffhangers are fine. GRRM gets away with it so why not us?

  5. You go!

    Gah, what a bummer about the Amazon pages (and annoying).

    (did you know you have captcha on?)

    1. I think I fixed it. Thanks for letting me know. I know I've turned it off before.

  6. Everyone makes mistakes. People who say they've never made a mistake won't pass a lie detector test, I tell you.

    Thank you for sharing your tips. I agree that many super crazy long books would be better off if they were cut into two books instead.

  7. That's a great list of lessons. Did you try writing to Createspace? They may be able to fix the Amazon page for you. It wouldn't hurt to ask. Can't wait to see the new book! Yeah, I found keeping my books under 85K is optimal. If you do write cliffhangers, have the others ready to go.

  8. Great list! What a lot to learn. I'm sorry about the second page issue on Amazon. I bought a block of ten ISBNs (from Bowker, so I wouldn't have to worry about that issue... Sorry I'm late on IWSG. Happy New Year!


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