Monday, January 24, 2011

Successful Writers Produce

This should come as no surprise to many of you, but the successful writers out there produce. These people are not one hit wonders.

But here is the twist to the discussion today. These writers will always be juggling several plates at one time. You will never see a break in their writing and there will always be a project somewhere in the works. They will be writing one, plotting another, editing one and, in turn, their agents will always have something to market to their current or next editor.

As an agent, it becomes very difficult to market an author when we only have one story to send out. Essentially, we are faced with that old saying of putting all of our eggs in one basket. This also means that if we only have one project, then we work like crazy on that one and then sit back and "wait" for the author to get the next story done. This isn't going to work.

Along the same lines, successful authors produce fast. Unless you are writing a piece of huge fiction of epic proportions, a story shouldn't really be taking you years to write. This is even truer for those writers that have finally sold to an editor. They want to see those stories always coming across their desk. The more they get your name out there, the more they can build the hype. If, however, you can only produce on a year, that gap between books is huge for losing any excitement about your name.

I was just talking to one of my writers this last Friday. We sold her first book in early December. But, while the editor was looking at it, she had completed 2 more books, and started a 3rd. To add to this, after she had recieved the revisions from that first book, instead of waiting to hear about book 2 and 3 for revisions, she took those comments and went to work on those next two books. Oh, and in the meantime, had written another (early draft form) and has plotted the new series.

When I spoke to the editor, her comment was as expected, "That is what I like to hear in my authors."

Is that you?



  1. Excellent post. I write best when I write every day and set goals for myself. About two weeks ago, I got The Call for a novella (as part of an anthology with several friends). While waiting for the others to finish their stories, I moved on to the next and continued working on a contemporary I'd started about the same time. Our Call turned into an eight book contract--just for 2011. I already have three stories done and two more ready for polishing. My contemporary is finished and out for critique and feedback. All in six months. Sitting around waiting doesn't help you or your writing.

  2. This is a great post, and yes, serious writers are always writing, with many projects in the works in different stages. It also helps to know how to allot that time, and when (sadly) to abandon that great idea that isn't working.

    It's good to hear an agent pleased to work with authors with multiple projects. For those without agents looking for one, of course, the challenge often is being told only to pitch one idea at a time!

  3. -I spilled ink upon a page and formed some words. My life was irrevocably altered. I became a writer.-

    I appreciate this post.

    What you're proposing isn't only to have writers juggle stories around, but their entire lives as well. Can it be done? Absolutely, and I believe by everyone. There's really no trick to it but dedication. With me it's a simple rule. Don't write because an agent or editor are asking you to. Write for yourself. Just let the muse take you for a long ride, and do it because you love it, because it tickles you down to your toes to hold that finished manuscript in you hands. It takes passion to be a writer, and we all have an adundance of that.

  4. Scott,
    This is a great post, and so very true. I heard something along these lines at the Pro-Retreat at RWA last summer. "Don't get caught up in querying and submitting that you stop writing. You've got to write the next book!"

    I think it also goes back to a post you did a few days ago, about there coming a point when you have to put a manuscript away and go on to the next project, or you risk revising yourself to death. I think that's a lesson all writers have to learn... that it's never going to be "perfect" in our eyes. But for me, over-revising results in revising my voice right out of a story. When I finished my last book, I printed it and read it through one more time, making revisions as I went, before I began querying. I made a promise to myself when I was on that final read-through that when I finished that, I was DONE. I would put it away and start the next book, and I would not re-visit that manuscript unless/until I was asked by an agent or editor for specific revisions. I'm glad I did that. By making that decision early, I freed myself to move on to the next book with a clear mind and a great deal of excitement.

    This is my first comment on your blog, so I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it. You are very gracious to all of us out here in the "writer world". I'm part of KY Romance Writers and looking forward to hearing you speak at our chapter retreat in March!


  5. Another great insight into the industry. Thanks for the info, definatly info I will put to use in the future.

  6. It's good to read all the other writers comments. I usually finish one project before I start another, that's the way I was taught from an early age—but—I'm just into the fifth chapter of my WIP and there's another character sitting at my side pressing me to write her story. I keep pushing her away, saying not now, wait!

    How do you keep everyone in their place when you have several going at the same time, with out becoming confused. I like my desk neat too!

  7. Mary, I find sometimes that other character's story leads to a better first story. The contemporary I just finished is supposed to be the last in a single title series. Some of the conflicts gave me ideas for the previous stories or "fixed" a problem in a couple of those WIPs.

    And sometimes the story WANTS to be told. As I said in my other comment, I completed this contemporary in six months, while working on the novellas. The story came fast and steady. I think it's the best writing I've done. More emotion, better characterization, good pacing. I love the way it told itself to me.

    BUT...I like working on multiple projects at one time. That strategy doesn't fit everyone's personality.