The Weight of Perfection

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.

Garden Fantasy

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.

Simple Math Large Results

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!

Another Rough Draft Down

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.

Death Note

It took me long enough but I finally watched the series and WOW it was good! I’m sad it’s over though it makes me want to read the manga. The good news is there are plenty of other anime shows out there for me to sink my teeth into.

As for Death Note itself, I think it may have inspired me more than I first thought. I just opened my computer and outlined the first book of a voodoo doll series. Does the idea of a voodoo doll killer helping the investigation her own crimes interest anyone?

Please, your feedback is important! I wanna know what you wanna read!

That being said I am currently 15k into an MG reaper book. No clue how long it’s gonna be. If it’s only 20-25k I’ll probably turn it into a short series and box three stories together for a longer book.