It’s been four months and you’re dead to me now
When I first started writing in this genre I read one of those “how to succeed as” posts. Okay, truth be told there might have been more than one – there might have been fifteen-hundred. Or five thousand.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I spent some time doing research, as I can go off on a two-hour Internet journey for details on something I’m only going to use in one line of a novel, see: peanut oil. And, I admit, at the same time I can completely forget to redo my research when I change something important in the story, like a make of the MC’s car, see: Road Trip (whoops).
Regardless, it’s something that we all do if we’re serious—the “how to succeed as” research, I mean—and I’m not knocking it. It’s smart, it’s reasonable, and I’m grateful that people other than myself do it or, well… what would the point of these posts be, right?
This particular post to which I referred to in my first line (and then went completely off course for the next three paragraphs) stuck with me, though. It said something that made me panic a bit. Without digging it up because I can’t remember who wrote it or where I saw it, the gist of the message was that if you don’t release a novel every quarter, you will lose your audience. There are so many new releases, it went on to say, that if your readers aren’t seeing your name on a new cover once every three months they, (being the fickle critters this author believed them to be) will simply forget you exist.
I took this as truth.
Now, I can’t say why I believed it. My readers are not fickle, they are certainly not simple, and very few of the “big guys” in mainstream-writing release a new novel every quarter. Once a year is far more likely, as anyone of us who have waited for that next new book from Mr., Ms., or Mx. Very Favourite Author can attest to.
Yet, there I was, diligently tapping out story after story, novel after novel, desperately trying to maintain a self-imposed quota. I was lucky: I had a lot of time to kill once the eight-to-five was done, I had no outside influences to slow me down, and I had a 2′ x 3′ patchwork of story ideas on Post-Its on the wall beside my desk. It helped, of course, that my novels and stories ran between 40,000 and 65,000 words. They weren’t tomes, by any means. Still, it kept me busy.
Then something happened. Two things actually.
One: I gave myself an ulcer. (Stress? What stress?) That was not entirely unsurmountable because let’s face it, I could ignore or at least temporarily quell the burning, bleeding hole in my guts. But the thing that truly screwed up all my plans, was Wolf, WY.
Suddenly the story got bigger than I was used to, and not just in word count, although that definitely played a part. There were notes to keep in order, and world rules to keep in mind, and characters ages to remember, and personalities to wind through multiple ideas, and… well, the short of the long is: the writing got harder. Harder to do, harder to imagine, and more than once I found myself having to go back and “fix” things that I’d forgotten about (thank the gods for my awesome beta reader that remembers way more details than I do).
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it. I love it, in fact; the three-book series that I realised Wolf, WY would be by the time I got done with the first novel is now expected to have a second three-book series that will take place after this current time line, along with a sequel series to Thicker Than Water that takes place even after that time line which has the potential to be its own who-knows-how-long-book series.
The problem is, they took/are taking longer to write than my previous one shot novels.
You can imagine my panic when I found out that the second novel in the Wolf series was going to come out a full seven months after the first one. I’d missed an entire quarter, you see. Not by days or weeks, but by months. All my hard work was going to be thwarted by my own lack of ability to write faster!
Then something else happened. Something weird. The readers I occasionally shared an email or a DM with kept emailing and DMing. The people that commented on my blog posts kept commenting. The reviews kept being posted (I woke up to a beautiful one just this morning) and as I began the process of setting up a blog tour for the second Wolf novel, Wolf en Garde, not a single review site that I’d worked with in the past sent back a message that read, “Who IS this?!”
How could that be? How have they not forgotten me?
That’s when it hit me… these “how to succeed as” posts are just one person’s opinion on what it was that made them successful in their field. They are guides, not holy grails, and in all truth, the writer has no idea if what they’re saying is even accurate. They just *think* it is.
Would the author that wrote the blog post about releasing every quarter still have been successful if they’d released a new novel twice a year? Or once a year? If they had waited, and still been as successful as they are, would their post have read that their secret to success was taking the time to reach out to their audience instead? Or that they succeeded because they made sure to take an hour every afternoon to take a spiritual journey through the Forest of Fantastic Plotlines?
No one knows. Not for sure. The only look that is truly 20-20 is hindsight, and even that look is fogged over in speculation. All we can really do is continue to share our insights, our beliefs, and our failures in the hopes that we are somehow helping and not hindering.
But at the end of the day we must remember that we do what we do because we love doing it, and it has to work for *YOU* the writer. Always keep in mind that my blog posts about “how to write” and “what to do” are just my ways of wishing you all the luck in the world and reminding my readers that I want them to be happy and successful.
And if you find something that does work for you, please share. Share with everyone that you can, because it just might work for someone else as well.
Before I leave, a question for you: How often do you, as a reader, like to see a new release from a specific writer; do you feel that several new releases get overwhelming, or can you just not get enough? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.
Henley’s newest release, Wolf, WY hit the market on October 21st and is now available for pre-order at your favourite online book retailer. Check it out on Amazon, or directly through LT3 Press. Wolf, en Garde, the second novel in the Wolf series will be released on May 18, 2016.
For more information, please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.