The new year is upon us—hard as it may be to believe. Or maybe this year has felt long, tedious, and interminable. Either way, the end of the year is always a great time for wrap-ups and reflections. In the book community, book bloggers and readers are busy highlighting their top reads. Having debuted a novel this year, it occurs to me that this is also a good time to think about what I’ve learned.
So, without delay, here are the top things I’ve learned in writing this year, along with a lesson for each:
Indie publishing is a LOT of work!
When the year began, my intention was to publish my novel through a traditional publisher. Along the way, and after growing more confident about my ability to handle it, I decided to go indie. Sure, marketing would be hard, but I figured that’s something traditionally published writers have to do anyway.
But what I learned instead is that there’s a steep learning curve to the indie publishing world. Lots to learn, lots to do, and lots of mistakes to make. Fortunately, there is a huge writing community in the indie world that is supportive and can offer newbie writers a great deal of help. I relied a great deal on that writing community, both for help in the publication process and in the marketing world.
LESSON: There are many paths to publishing but none of them is the “easy” way—and anyone that says differently about indie publishing doesn’t know how much goes into it.
Diversification provides great opportunities for writers
When I first started my journey into indie publishing this year, I was very focused on launching my historical fiction print book career. Ebooks, while important, didn’t seem like that big of a deal and other genres, interesting, but not my focus.
As the year went on and I read more about the many formats, here’s what I discovered:
- Audiobooks are hot and going on eight years straight of double digits revenue growth.
- Short fiction continues to find platforms, with other writers finding strong sources of revenue from platforms like Radish and Kindle Vella launching in the U.S. for serialized fiction.
- Many successful writers have pen names in other genres in which they write to-market.
- The more formats of your book is available (ebook, print, large print, hardcover, audiobook)—the larger your potential audience will be.
LESSON: By diversifying your writing and publication formats, you can increase the opportunity to grow a loyal and dedicated reader fan base. What’s more, multiple revenue streams can support your main genre or other pen names. Next year, I plan on launching a series in another pen name as a result.
If you want a writing career, you have to treat it like one
Oddly enough, the last tip I’m writing about here is the last one I learned this year. It’s also probably the most important one. If your dream is to have a career in writing, you have to WORK for it. In other words, show up for the job. If you’re struggling to get your book written, show up in front of the computer anyway.
In the words of Stephen King, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
While writing has always been something I’ve taken seriously, the career of writing is a totally different thing. Career writing is about thinking of the long game: building a backlist, supporting your books with long-term marketing strategies, and dedication to writing even when you don’t feel like it.
LESSON: A writing career is a different beast from “writing and hoping to breakout someday.” The strategies that you put in place today can build the foundation for the writing career that you can live off of five years from now. And patience is key.
What are some lessons that you’ve learned about writing this year? They could be about craft—or maybe about the business of writing. Either way, take some time to scribble them down. They could set the path for your writing career in the future. Happy New Year!