I love writing commercial fiction. Today, we’re living in a golden age for writers. You can make great money writing fiction — more money than seems respectable, sometimes — because you’re just having fun telling stories.
That said, the amount of income you can make depends on your ability to get yourself and your writing organized.
“I want to write well..”
Before we get into organization, let’s get one misconception out of the way. Students say to me (when I suggest that they publish as regularly as they can): “Yes, but I want to write well…”
There’s a school of muddled thinking which implies that if you write a lot, and publish a short story a week, and a novel every few months, you can’t write “well”. You’re prolific, so you write junk.
Commercial fiction, is by definition, commercial. It’s entertainment for pay. Way back in the mists of time, when I started my writing career with romance fiction, someone told me that they thought my latest novel was a “penny dreadful.” That stung. I’ve remembered that comment all these years.
It never occurred to me to be proud to write entertainments. Then I became a copywriter, and realized that the results of your writing matter more than anything else. Today, I’m proud to write commercial fiction which entertains.
Your sole goal in commercial fiction is to entertain readers. We hope that you’re writing “well” — whatever that means. You can judge how well you write easily enough: are you making sales?
Enough of that. Let’s get organized. 🙂
Get organized: upcoming, current, and published
You can organize in any way which works for you of course. I’m describing a system which works for me. Tinker with your system, until you’re publishing regularly, and can meet your publishing goals without angst.
You need to not only store your upcoming, current and published projects where you can write anytime, anywhere, but also ensure that they’re safe. If your computer’s hard drive dies, you need to continue working, while you get the mess sorted out.
I use a combination of Evernote, Dropbox, and Box to store my projects. Whatever you decide use, ensure that your materials are protected from computing disasters.
1. Create a publishing plan
Everything starts with your plan. Work out what you need to publish, and when. Update your plan regularly. I keep mine in a spreadsheet.
2. Keep your publishing balls in the air
Currently, I have two books (ebooks — let’s call them all books) with an editor, one book I need to upload to Amazon today, and two books which I’m revising.
I also have another three books (client projects) in various stages of completion, because I’m waiting for feedback.
In addition to that, I’m bundling some stories I wrote and published last year, under various pen names. The stories are in KDP Select, so I’m yanking them out of Select, so I can publish them broadly — that is, on other ebook retailers as well as Amazon. (If you publish something in KDP Select, you’re giving Amazon an exclusive.)
3. Review daily, and do a comprehensive review weekly
I’m ghostwriting fiction for clients, as well as publishing my own. This means that things can drop through the cracks. That’s annoying. So I review where I am each day — I just look at where I am with each project. I do a more comprehensive review on Friday afternoons, so we can send reports to clients.
I do reports for myself, as well as for clients. If something comes up, and I can’t work on a project for a day or two, I need to be aware of where I am in that project.
4. Schedule, and write… every day
Writers of commercial fiction can’t afford to be temperamental artistes. Writing isn’t brain surgery, nor is it digging ditches. All you need to do is put your rear end in a chair and write.
I’m as guilty of goofing off as the next slacker, but when I do that, I work late. Or I write more tomorrow, to keep my publishing schedule on track.
Keep writing: there’s gold in commercial fiction
Look on your writing as an investment. You’re publishing yourself, so you don’t need anyone’s permission. Nor will your books be yanked from bookstore shelves and remaindered.
You’re the boss. You’re in total control. You can do it. 🙂
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