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10 Years in Publishing: 10 Lessons Learned

26 January 2016

From author Sara Rosett:

My first book came out in 2006. It’s amazing how much has changed since then—no digital versions and audiobooks were on CDs—but certain things remain constant like the advice to write a good book and then write the next one. I’m now a hybrid author with two self-published fiction series as well as my traditionally published series and have learned so much about the craft of writing itself as well as about publishing and readers. Here are my top ten lessons learned:

1. Beginning is always hard

I love the imagining, the plotting, and the planning, but then it comes time to put fingers to keyboard and I’m always right back were I started—the blank page. I’ve learned it’s best to just start. Get something down. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.” I don’t have that same what if I can’t do it again? feeling that I had as I began my second novel, so it’s gotten better, but beginning is still scary.

. . . .

3. I can write faster

When I began publishing ten years ago, I wrote one book each year. The thought of writing more than one book seemed impossible. I couldn’t imagine writing even two books a year. Then ebooks came along and I heard about people writing several books each year and even a book a month. Crazy! But then I found out about the prolific writers’ habits and routines. They were usually extensive plotters and were fast drafting…well, that made a difference to my thought pattern. I was a plotter—not an excessively detailed plotter, but I worked from a plan—and if I was just getting my thoughts down and pressing on…then I might be able to do it, too. Mindset is everything. Once I decided it was possible for me to write more, my output increased. (The fact that I had readers waiting for the books helped, too!) From 2006 to 2011, I released one book a year. From 2012 to 2015, I released ten novels, one novella, and have two more novels in post-production.

4. “Shorter” books are okay.

This point is related to writing faster. When I began in traditional publishing, 75,000 was the minimum word count for my genre. It was important for the book spine to be wide enough on the shelf. With digital books, length matters less. Readers want a great story and—as long as the story is a good one and feels complete—readers don’t care if the story is 50,000 or 75,000. Agatha Christie thought 50,000 words was about the right length for a mystery. I have to say that the more I write, the more I agree with her. My self published books usually come in around 55,000 to 65,000 words and I haven’t had any complaints from readers.

Link to the rest at Sara Rosett

Here’s a link to Sara Rosett’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Self-Publishing, Writing Advice

6 Comments to “10 Years in Publishing: 10 Lessons Learned”

  1. very interesting. certainly congrats on increased number of books of quality. For many even one book a year is very difficult, let alone several a year. The emphasis on plotting was interesting, as your way of speeding up.

  2. For some plotting may help, for others it simply becomes roadblocks as you try to keep the story running between the set lines. For others an ‘end goal’ is all that should be set with maybe a couple way-points in between with the rest of the story free to roam the available area.

    YMMV as they say …

  3. Just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying Rosett’s Murder on Location series, and I’m glad I don’t have to wait a year before reading the next installment.

    I’m still trying to speed up my own writing process, and some of the tips in this article are worth trying.

  4. Anybody have a definitive take on “Shorter books are okay”?

    Smashwords and others continue to point to data showing that longer books sell better in most genres, and especially in SF/F it seems that 100K is the minimum. I’d sure love to believe that shorter is okay, though, because personally I start to struggle after 50K.

    • Lyle Blake Smythers

      Scott, I think that 100K pertains more to your epic fantasy, grand fight between good and evil type books, the Lord of the Rings/Wheel of Time/Game of Thrones kind of thing. I certainly see urban fantasy and all kinds of science fiction that are considerably shorter, say 75,000 words and up.

    • Bella Forrest is killing it with urban fantasy novels in the 65,000-75,000 range (guesstimating a 300-page book will average about 250 words per page).

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