NOW what are you writing? But I thought you already started a book?

Can’t tell you how many times I get asked this question. By my parents, my friends, my daughter, my husband. I can understand their confusion sometimes, as I may have been talking about a certain book, describing it to them, being excited about it, and then the next time I talk to them I’m pimping an entirely different book. This creates confusion. I’m hoping to clear some of that up for my stalkers…er, readers, today.

Notice my sidebar? I’ve added another word meter for a second book, a YA I’m calling CM for lack of any better title at the moment. (Do NOT notice the fact that it has no words written yet. This is because I haven’t officially begun writing it.)

So the question begs to be asked, why are you starting another book? Don’t you have to write the second title in the Super Secret Title Trilogy (aka VGT)? Didn’t you start writing that just last week? Didn’t you just turn in another proposal for a DIFFERENT YA book a couple of weeks ago? WTF are you thinking trying to write more than one book at a time???

All those questions are posed to me with the best of intentions, I know (that, or they’re seriously worrying that my fickle creative self has gone off the deep end). But, when looked at from my point of view, it’s all about GOALS.

Another good question we have to ask ourselves is this: At what point do we stop making writing decisions solely based on creativity and start making those decisions with good business sense in mind?

For me? Now.

Before you sell, you have the ability to write completely creatively. You can take as long as you like. You can write the book of your heart if you wish. You can extend your own personal deadline endlessly if you choose (that’s the best part!). Once you’re sold, you have to take a lot of things into consideration. Editor-enforced deadlines, contract stipulations, etc. But you also need to take a look at what you want to accomplish as a writer.

I’ve sold one book. I have a 99.9% chance of selling the other two books in the Venus series. This is wonderful…thrilling!! This will carry me for several years. However, there is still approximately 15 months until the first of those books comes out. The second, giving the probable 6-month lag time common with series books, won’t be out for at least 21 months…the third 2-1/4 years away. I’m not under any huge amount of pressure to get those done. Especially since VGT (book 2), isn’t even under contract yet. (Any day now, though!)

While very wise writers would (and did) suggest that a newly published author not “dilute their brand” by trying to write in more than one genre at a time (and this is just a suggestion, because there are several fairly “young to the business” authors who do just that and do it successfully), I would have to agree with them. For the most part. But, when I posed the question, What do I do about the fact that my first chick lit doesn’t come out for so long, and it’s not like I can sell any other chick lits to any other publisher in the meantime? Do I have to sit around and wait? Even those wise authors agreed that maybe I have a unique situation.

So, this is the point where the business part of the writing comes in. What are my goals and how can I best achieve them within the time frame I have to work?

I’m lucky, in a way, that my first book doesn’t come out for a while. I have the benefit of time to work out my goals. Sometimes that isn’t the case. But in my case it is, so I’m taking advantage of it and using the time to position myself where I can best fulfill my chosen goals.

So, what are my goals? First, I want to write full time. Actually, let me rephrase that. I want to be able to support myself to the point where I can give up my job. (I don’t really want to physically, technically write full time, 40 hours a week). Not everyone wants this. As shocking as it may seem some people LIKE their day jobs. I would not be one of them. 

One of my other goals for the next year is to sell a YA book. The reason for this is that I can potentially write and sell (and perhaps even see on the shelf) a YA book before VENUS ENVY even comes out. Possibly. And the YA voice is very similar to my Chick Lit voice, so I would essentially just be writing Chick Lit for a younger audience, right?

To achieve this goal, I have to realize I cannot sell a YA book without proposing a YA book. And every proposal I write is not necessarily going to be a guaranteed sale. So, how do I up the odds…write more than one proposal. Hence the CM idea.

The CM idea has been tossed around in my head for a while as something I could write in several different genres… romantic suspense, chick lit, or YA. There were several reasons for choosing YA, not the least being that YA is HOT right now, selling like crazy, begging for paranormal, and this book fit there really well.

But what do I have to say about the YA proposal I turned in last month? So what. That’s what I say. It doesn’t have as hot of a premise as CM, and, well, frankly, though I like the story and would still like to sell it some time, I’m not nearly as excited about it as I am CM.

So this is the point where I make a business decision. Work up a proposal for a YA that has a much better chance of selling than the one I submitted to my agent a couple weeks ago OR sit on the one that’s already there while time ticks by, waiting for it hopefully to sell. The downside to the second option is that, if I sold that YA, I’d probably have to continue to write semi-sweet YA’s for a while. Another UPside in favor of choice #1, is that CM has series potential…another smart business decision.

Am I sacrificing creativity for business? No. I am completely psyched about the CM story. Not just because it’s marketable. Because it’s interesting, exciting, and a step in a direction I didn’t think I’d be taking for a while. I’m not giving up writing what I love just to sell a book. I’m just upping my odds of selling a book. Of accomplishing my goals. No fickleness involved. 

Anyone else out there making creative business decisions today?

Shannon