Crafting a Writing Career

In a perfect world, writers would, well, write. We wouldn’t worry about things like marketing, promotion, the vaguaries of contract language, platform-building, Tweeting for anything other than pleasure, whether the fact that a reviewer/agent/editor hasn’t answered our emails is cause for paranoia, or–God help us–long-term planning.

If you read yesterday’s pathetic, whining blog, you’ll know that I’m butting my head against the long-term planning wall.

I read recently that an author’s work is one part writing, nine parts business, and the business side of my head is trying to strategically look at how an author crafts a career. I’m hard-nosed and practical, which is maybe an odd trait for a writer. I will never churn out dozens of trunk novels, gaining satisfaction from the craft of writing itself and hoping someone, someday, will want to read them. I’m also not a languisher. I won’t spend ten years lovingly crafting a single work. Hell, I won’t spend two years lovingly crafting a single work. When I start a novel, I expect to finish it within six months, and then move to the next thing.

It’s the next thing–the next STRATEGIC thing–that has me flummoxed. (Isn’t “flummoxed” a great word?)

With the first two in a series sold, do I optimistically work on the third in the series in case someone wants to read it?

With an unrelated trilogy proposed and the first book written, do I start the second one hoping someone, somewhere, will eventually want to publish it?

Do I toss all that aside and start something new?

Do I continue to write short stories (a writing form I do not enjoy, by the way) to help work on that platform-building thing?

And what the hell am I supposed to Tweet about anyway, and why would anyone want to read it?

What will best benefit a writing career in the long run?

So far, my best advice (thanks, JenKBlom) is to drown myself in Snickers and Dr. Pepper (I threw in some Cheetos for good measure). And now, it’s time for the day job, where I shall happily go to work and edit a story on feral pig contraception. Feel free to make “pig skin” jokes; I am.

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man’s Curse; Black Diamond).

3 thoughts on “Crafting a Writing Career

  1. Okay, I know you’re a planner, but my advice would be to start the story that feels freshest to you. Which story is keeping you awake at night? Which characters are screaming the loudest in your ear?

    Whichever one you’re most passionate about right now is the one you’ll probably write best right now.

    So lick off that Cheeto dust and reintroduce your fingers to the keyboard.

    Then tweet about the random stories you write for work. Because I’ll never get tired of hearing about feral pig contraception. It makes me wonder what poor soul drew the short straw and has to introduce the pigs to their teeny tiny condoms.

  2. LOL at the image of feral pigs wearing condoms.

    I think you’ve gotten some great advice from a writer’s POV. As a reader, if I like an author’s series, I’m impatiently waiting on the next installment.

    Okay, there I said it. Take it for what’s it worth. Let us know when you’ve made a decision.

  3. Well, my awesome agent weighed in and her vote was: do a couple of chapters and proposal on the new idea, then get to work on the third in the series while she shops around the other proposal. And, Kat, I’m most excited about the new idea–my characters are yelling at me loudest–so that’s where I’m going first 🙂