Welcome to Indie Life -- the second Wednesday of the month! Time to talk about the realities of self-publishing in the middle of the ongoing sea change that ebooks have wrought.
I don't know about you, but I had Disciple kicking around in my head for years and years before I had it fully figured out and my writing chops were on the level that it needed. I've only self-published the first three parts, so far, but all six have been written. For me, the story is finished.
And to be honest, we were all happy to be done -- the characters and I. But now they're taking a well-deserved break and I'm at loose ends.
Starting over from scratch
When you had years to nibble at the world-building and character development, it didn't feel so big. You can eat an elephant, after all, if you do it one bite at a time. You had time to learn your characters' life histories, explore all the nooks and crannies of the world, and even develop all the second-tier characters.
But now you've got a few books on Amazon and you know how important backlist is when you're a self-publisher. You don't have five or ten years to write the next one.
That elephant starts looking kinda big.
Have you ever groused about how an author's characters are all essentially the same? Ever got tired of every story involving New Orleans somehow? How some writers keep going back to the same characters in the same universe and never let them have a "happily ever after"? (How many times can the same person save the universe, anyway?)
You can do that, of course. And if you love telling a certain kind of story -- traditional romances, for example -- there's no reason you shouldn't and there's even a gigantic market for it.
Personally, I think it's interesting to see patterns in your own writing. Lately, I've been reacquainting myself with one of my science fiction characters and realizing how much he has in common with one of Disciple's characters. They're the same MBTI type, if you've read my posts on that, but they are quite different in their execution.
But I don't want to tell the same thing over and over, with the same or only slightly different characters. I want to challenge myself. I have a writing bucket list. Do you?
Write everything down
You should already be doing this, actually. I use Scrivener (it rocks, buy it) and I have a file called the Brainstorm Zone where I write down all the scraps of ideas that seem substantial enough to work with -- a paragraph or two, at least. When I'm starting from scratch, I go over all those notes and see if anything might fit. Or, might fit after a little mashing up and re-tooling. You never know.
Never throw stuff away
I have dozens of trunked novels and novellas. Many of them have been lost to obsolete file formats and exist only as a tractor-feed, fanfold printout (I kid you not.) They are never going to be seen by anybody in their current state because they're clumsy, poorly written, and sloppy... but there are little interesting bits in there.
Don't throw your crummy old stuff away. Nobody will know you took a half-baked idea, finished baking it and added a few new gadgets.
Don't cut corners
I've built worlds from scratch, and I'll do it again. Just because I need to keep producing, as a self-publisher, does not mean that I should lower my standards or let things slide as "good enough." I am the only person holding me responsible for the quality of my work.
My readers deserve the best I can do. They're hard-won and priceless.
Have you started eating a new elephant recently?