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.
I still need to come up with a good title for my reaper novella. The current working title is Big Boy. . . . . so yeah it needs some work. Especially now that the MC is thirteen and not eight, so calling him a big boy just feels kind of creepy.
I’ll start with the good news. I am ahead of schedule on the garden fantasy book. This is my fifth day of writing and I just hit the 18k word mark. It would be SO cool if I could hit the 20k word mark today, but I’m not gonna stress about it. I already hit my 3k minimum for the day so I’ll probably get in some much-deserved reading time. I’m currently beta reading the 2nd book in my friend Lauren Lee’s Demons of New York series.
The bad news is, not only do I need to come up with a title for my reaper tale (though I do have a cover and it looks pretty sick) but I’m running behind on my edit goals for it. As you can probably put together from the paragraph above, I’m running behind on edits because I’m running ahead on a rough draft. I’m doing my best not to stress about it, I don’t think the reaper tale requires any major changes, I just need to add a little more depth to each character so it’s more a tale of interesting characters than one of a pretty plot.
since I’ve proven I can’t effectively edit one project and write another at the same time, I’ll probably relieve the self-imposed stress I’m feeling and just focus on writing the rough draft first. It’s easier to take a break from editing than it is to take a break from a rough draft. One is all about objectivity and the other is all about momentum (at least for me).
At least I have a week before I move down to New Orleans for the summer and in that time I’ll probably crank out another 20k words, but ideally, I’d like to finish the rough draft by then.
Remember my summer goals: I want to publish two novellas and one full-length novel. I already published Third Life. My reaper tale will be my second novella (about 120-130 pages) and my full-length novel will either be my garden fantasy or Skipping Over Sundays.
All in all, I’m pretty optimistic about where I am right now.
As always thanks for reading.
It’s funny how something so simple like basic arithmetic goes write over my head sometimes unless I’m looking right at the results. What I mean is, obviously writing every day has its perks, but writing a little more than you’re used to can yield major returns.
When I first started writing (late 2014 early 2015), I had a daily goal of 1000 words, not bad, and I would play with that sometimes going up to 1500 sometimes just settling for 1200. Anyway, I always wanted to hit 2000 so I finally started doing that and of course, the product finished sooner (twice the speed duh).
Then I bumped my daily word count goal up to 3k (where I currently am now) and of course, I finish books even faster cause DUH! The 32k novella I just wrote was completed in 10 days (the final day I wrote 5k).
These big chunks were easy to understand. I mean everyone knows writing 3000 words a day will hit a goal 3 times faster than writing 1000 words a day, but what if you started adding a couple hundred words to your daily word count goal. Nothing overwhelming, I’m talking next time you write and you hit your goal and 200 more words. What would that do for you?
Well, assuming you write daily that’s an extra 1400 words a week for possibly five-ten minutes more of writing.
I know this is pretty basic stuff, and almost insultingly simple to put down in a blog post, but I’m writing this because it’s one of those things that’s so simple I’ve completely overlooked it for so long. I’ve hit my goal and called it a day instead of putting in an extra ten minutes, which by the end of the month could earn me an extra 6000 words.
It’s why now I say my minimum is 3k but usually, I write 3100 or 3200 and the results are so obvious it’s cool. It’s fun to see how quickly you reach your goals just by adding an extra inch each day.
Anyway, thanks for reading!
Well, I finished all the edits on this 100 page novella and everything is going according to plan. 3 books published this summer is still a real possibility (yes I’m counting the end of May as summer cause it’s good enough for summer vacation). I just need to polish the blurb before I put it up for presale. Writing the blurb is SO ANNOYING my god. It feels like it took me less time to write my longest manuscript (apx 130k words) than to write this blurb. To those of you with blurb skills I respect you, I mean we’re supposed to honor short story writers but you’re the real champs.
I’m only letting my website and my newsletter know this, but Third Life will be on sale for $0.99 through presale and the three days it’s published but after that, it’s bumping up to full price.
Funny story about Third Life, I finally got the balls to write it because my author friend Lauren Lee needed a sprint buddy. She was working on her Charlotte’s Pact Series and needed a boost of momentum. My original thought for Third Life was a world where individuals had three hearts over their heads (like in video games) but they could lose lives for the most mundane tasks, like not cleaning their room, and the main character was going to search for a guru who found the key to eternity.
I kept the three lives idea but created a world of warfare between two tribes, one outside the walls fighting to return the bodies they borrowed from the world to the ground so the earth could find balance, and the other inside the walls fighting to maintain a lifestyle of strict discipline.
So I would like to thank Lauren Lee for getting me started on this book.
The rest of the summer will go as followed: Writing and editing a novella currently titled Big Boy and revising my full-length manuscript formerly titled the Absolute but now titled Skipping Over Sunday.
I’ll probably do writing sprints for Big Boy (definitely want a new title for that one, too similar to Little Big Boy by Max Power). So if anyone wants to do some writing sprints with me while I work on the rough draft please let me know.
As for Skipping Over Sunday, the story is done I just need to find a way to make it compelling cause at the moment I’m worried it’s too boring.
If all this goes according to plan I may even try vlogging. I have this idea where I’d vlog a pantser novel from beginning to end just to show anyone interested in writing a manuscript how attainable that goal is. I’m not saying it’ll be very good but the words will be on the page and from there you can choose to polish it, revise it, play frisbee with it, or burn it.
As usual thanks for reading! I look forward to writing more blog posts this summer. There’s something incredibly satisfying about writing and publishing something in the same day.