Is perfection a detriment? The fear of putting out something less than perfect leaves a lot of 80-90% projects on the sideline. Though we all strive for 100% in school, haven’t you ever received a B and thought “Oh thank God!”
I went to a writing conference in Pittsburgh where indie authors talked about launching their own publishing career without traditional publishing houses. To say these men and women have won the game is putting it lightly. They write full time, they travel the world, and they’ve reached a point where they don’t just have to write for the market. They can develop any passion project they want and their fanbase will thank them for it.
The advice that really stood out to me at this conference was don’t be paralyzed by perfection and there is no such thing as a kiss of death in this industry. Obviously what they meant by the latter is there’s no kiss of death based on product alone. If you write a bust you can recover. If a pen name loses an audience you can launch another. It always will take hard work but the worst thing you can do is not produce.
Does this advice work? Let’s think about it, have you ever seen someone put out content constantly? Some of it is garbage and others hit home? Have you seen a YouTube star blow up out of nowhere, then go to their channel and see they have videos going back years and the first videos look like they were filmed on their laptop’s camera.
It all comes down to branding. Trial and error, finding the right audience and making content for them. In writing there’s this strategy called the first 1000 fans (or something like that). I know to the casual hobbyist or to someone new to writing that may seem like an overwhelming number to achieve but once you get your feet wet and start making your first connections you realize just how attainable it is. Why is this number relevant? Because it turns your brand into a self-sufficient vehicle. If you have 1000 fans (not subscribers or followers but actual fans who love your work and share your content) then you have the best marketing team in the world at your fingertips, ready to come to your support with every tweet, product launch, or publication.
You can only start building this audience when you have content to share, and if you wait until your content is perfect you will not have enough. I’m not saying to go out there and purposefully put out trash, but I can tell you from personal experience that people resonate with effort and authenticity. If they feel you’re genuinely trying to help them, entertain them, or relay a specific message it will resonate with some people, and those people will be the start of your fan base.
Now, I’m no expert, I’m just an author documenting his own efforts and sharing his story with others in case they want to try but I can tell you though I am not at 1000 fans the numbers are growing. Since that Pittsburgh conference I released an 82 page novella. I would’ve probably come up with some excuse not to release it before that event. Maybe send it to a second editor for more input, or try and bulk up the word count to make it an even 100 then hold off on the release until I had a supplemental reading to attach to it and build up some universe, all the while delaying the production of all my other manuscripts. But I took the advice they gave me, made a cover on my own for free and released it. Since then my goodreads numbers have grown, my amazon ranking has gone up, my subscriber count on my newsletter has gone up, and I’ve had a little more change in my pocket (I even treated my girlfriend to food with the royalties). Again nothing substantial, but progress. Tangible progress and the sort of affirmation that makes me want to continue down this path.
So here’s a challenge to anyone reading this. Take a chance and put out something new. It doesn’t have to be a book; it could be an article on here, a video on Instagram, a new feature on a website or a youtube channel. Anything authentic that maybe you’ve been too nervous to try. You might be surprised by the response you get.
Well, it still needs a title but I just finished the rough draft of the project I started 10 days ago. It’s not long, in those 10 days I wrote close to 32,000 words, which translates to between 120-140 pages. It was a lot of fun to write though. I really love the story, I think the plot is pretty solid, the characters all have good motivations and overall I think it’s gonna be a fun read. I also have an idea in mind for a second book, which I think would be cool cause if it’s the same length I can package them together and have a full length 200-300 page book in two parts.
As for what I need to work on, well the ending is a little rushed. I know I can fix that in the edits but with the rough draft, I just wanted to get an ending on the page and worry about making it pretty later. It reached the point where it felt like the sooner I reach the end, the sooner I can start focusing on making it good instead of just prolonging it, cause no matter what it would need to go through multiple edits so might as well reach that stage a day earlier than planned.
I’m really excited to start editing it because I really feel like this story has a lot of opportunities. It’s a YA reaper tale. The main character and his best friend are 13 and his older sister is 15.
I think as far as characters are concerned his sister and best friend are the flattest. I need to give them more depth and development in the edits. I think their main guide is the richest character I wrote, the neighbor and the main villain are tied for second most in-depth and the MC is third most.
His parents probably should be improved in the edits too. At the moment they don’t even have names. At first, I did that purposefully cause I was thinking like Charlie Brown adults but I think it might just make the story weaker since they are a big part of the MC’s motivation to take the quest.
Anyway, I’m excited because my goals for the summer were to publish two novellas and one full-length novel. So far I’ve published one novella, I just finished the rough draft of my second novella, and the novel is written it just needs to go through severe edits. Since it’s only June 2nd I think I’m doing alright with my schedule.
I know 4000 words are nothing to some people, but it’s a fair amount for me. These past three days now my numbers have all been over 3000 words, and it hasn’t felt particularly demanding.
Today was a day off for me so I obviously had more free time than usual but this technique has worked for me in the past even when I work full time or go to school.
It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, all I’m doing is focusing 100% of my attention on writing for short bursts of time then rewarding myself with a brief break. I’ve discovered one good way to time your breaks is to watch a show on Netflix (preferably one of the sub 30-minute shows).
Rather than trying to present this as polished advice it would probably be more beneficial to just write out my day so you all can see what I did and if it would work for you.
I started my day with a baseline word count to give me a bit of a cushion: 1000 words. From there I rewarded myself with a 22 minute break and watched an episode of Death Note.
I wrote 600 words following that episode and repeated until I reached 3200. I then gave myself a longer break to finish some errands, get out of the house, feel like an actual human and when I returned I knocked out the final 800.
The reason I liked this approach so much is it’s quantity focused not time focused. It doesn’t matter how long or short it takes me to write those 500 words, it’s the goal I set and the goal I have to reach. The break is then time driven because 22 minutes is enough to recharge, get some coffee, and let ideas percolate.
Why I think this idea worked so well is that I never fully exhausted my mind or my imagination. The ideas were still flowing when I took my break so writing didn’t feel like a chore, it was something I was chomping at the bits to get back to.
Anyway, I hope this helped.
Thanks for reading.
So, I started my second round of edits on The Absolute. Some days I feel like I’m making amazing progress and others I just feel overwhelmed. Like sometimes I look at the draft as approaching a final product and see the edits as just tiny additions, maybe a couple new chapters–a few hundred or thousand words a piece.
Other days I see the whole book as a negative word count. A hole I need to climb out of before I can start writing the real story it’s supposed to be.
Today is one of those middle days, where I feel like I can see everything I’m supposed to do clearly, but struggling to take that first step, because it would mean actually having to commit to a strategy.
On the other hand, I am in the slash and burn phase of my edits on The Pathetic Tycoon. It’s a little wordy but there’s definitely a story there. The antagonist and one of the protagonists are perfect foils for one another.
One the heir of his family’s massive company. The other a criminal who wants nothing more than to be legitimate–wants nothing more than the life the protagonist has but was refused at every turn. Basically–if the world wants him to be a criminal than he’ll be the best they’ve ever seen sorta deal.
The third thing I’m working on is my first short story for the Workshop This segment of the blog. It’s a fantasy/fairy tale. Takes place in a world with reapers. The path to the afterlife has been compromised so they aren’t ready to let their father take it. Instead, they embark on a journey to fix it. I’m excited because, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I really want to write more short stories. I’ve overlooked this part of writing for so long and really feel like the better I get at writing short stories the better writer I’ll become.
That’s all of my updates. At least for my R.K. Gold pen name.
QT Pi is still much of the same. Trying to finish the outline for the second book in the Unplugged series. The problem is it’s actually a LONG book because I’m full on world building. The first story was just that–a story taking place in the universe. It’s more like the first part of the novel I’m working on now and will probably be re-published in this novel.
The other project I’ve pumped the breaks on but have written about half and outlined most of the second half is the book 1 of the Mr. Magical series. This is probably my lowest priority at the moment but it’s a fun story to tell so I’m doing my best not to forget about it altogether.