A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.

Sigh.

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I picked away at the second book in my fantasy series while writing and publishing a few more short stories, two romance novels and a humorous novel. While I enjoyed writing these books and learned from each one, they were not what my readers wanted. They were NOT fantasy.

Discouraged, burnt out from lots of writing and with low books sales, I soldiered on. I completed Scattered Stones and published it in 2016 with little fan fair. During this process, other projects took my attention, and I tinkered with book three in the series, Revelations Stones.

I love this fantasy series, and I adore the characters. There’s a connection I can’t break. So, why couldn’t I focus on writing one book after another?

I don’t know the answer to that question. It might have something to do with the upheaval at home between 2014 and 2017. It might have been my like for so many topics and the explorer in me who wanted to see ‘what if?’. Or it might have been the shorter novels were more appealing because they were easy to write with little to no research. After all, I can write 40,000 words in two months and edit them in a few days. Writing and editing 130,000 words is a time-consuming, mammoth task. It’s both my romance and my humorous novels put together.

Scattered Stones Diane Lynn McGyverIn the end, I think it was lack of knowledge on what it takes for an author to succeed in this world of publishing with algorithms that look at the raw data only.

I have since learned it is more important to have three books in the same genre than to have six books in six different genres. In the majority of cases, publishing a book in a new genre pulls us back to the starting gate each time to build a new audience for our story. It’s difficult to make it around the track doing this.

It is vital we choose a genre we love and build a solid following before branching into other genres.

I know deep down I prefer fantasy above all other, and if I could write in only one genre, fantasy would be it.

So from here on into the unforeseeable future, I will focus only on my fantasy stories. The draft for Revelation Stones will be completed by January 31, 2019, and if the winds prevail, it will be published May 6, 2019.

This is my first goal for the upcoming writing season.

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11 thoughts on “A Hard Lesson Learned

  1. Oh Diane how I empathise with you. I’ve done much the same thing only I’ve skipped to different genre in full length novels instead, with peaks and troughs of success. However, an author friend found focusing on short stories in her crime / thriller genre and putting them out at very low cost (or free) did increase her sales and ratings and she was eventually snapped up by main stream publishing. There’s hope! I’ll put your series on my ‘to read’ list. best of luck with your writing Diana

  2. Would you think that an author that writes fantasy AND sci-fi would suffer the same fate, or only to a lesser degree?

    It’s been my experience that many (though not all) fantasy readers also enjoy sci-fi and vice versa.

    Interested in your thoughts.

    P.S. Looking forward to hearing more of book 3 becoming an reality.

  3. With any series, you can’t leave the audience waiting too long as the interest can fizzle out. If it takes too long for the next book in a series, I tend to forget who the characters were etc. I look forward to the third book in this series.

    • I agree, Darlene. This is more true with fantasy series where there are often dozens of characters even if there are only three or four main ones. I’ve learned my lesson, and this writing season (from September to June), I plan to put that lesson into action. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for the insight. I’ve been tempted down some writing tangents over the last couple years into crime novels and sci-fi. Still only unpublished manuscripts so far. Trying to focus on my own fantasy series.

    • Thanks for visiting, RSGullett. The attraction to other genres is hard to fight, but I highly recommend it. Fantasy is a versatile genre. You can romance, crime and mystery. I’m there just for the magic and dwarfs though. Good luck with your fantasy series.

  5. It was interesting to read about your revelation. What you say is true – when I love an author I read the next book because of the way that person tackled the genre I enjoy reading.

    • Colline, thank you for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love multiple books by one author as well, especially series. I think the longest series I ever read was 8 books long. Unless you count comic books. Then I’ve read dozens of Archie books and many Jonah Hex and Spiderman comics. If I love a series, when I reach that last book, I’m always looking for more.

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