Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of non-fiction reading. This is because I'm trying to learn how to better share my books, make them look nice, and adapt them into other formats (ebooks and audio books). There are a lot of amazing tools and resources that enable you to do all of these things within several different budgets.
But one thing I’ve noticed over the last few months is that the type of non-fiction reading I’m doing has changed significantly since I first started out trying to write seriously. Like many writers I know (on Twitter for example), I read a TON of blogs posts and books about writing. I still do. Only now, the books I’m reading are very much about the business side of being an author. I can definitely see how once I made the decision to move in one direction (indie publishing) over another (traditional publishing), the kinds of resources I needed to help me do so shifted dramatically. I stopped reading certain kinds of blogs and started to seek out others that had the information I needed.
The more I understood about how the publishing industry operated (as much as anyone can understand the way the publishing industry operates give the amount of change it’s currently undergoing), the more inspired I felt. For example, one of the first books I wrote that will be published this June, is a young adult fantasy called The Fortune Teller’s Daughter. This book is just over 57,000 words long. I love this story, but when I was thinking about going the traditional publishing route, I worried about the length of it. In my mind, after nine or ten rounds of edits and working with a developmental editor as well as a proofreader, it was done. It felt done. It felt like the perfect length. But I was worried an agent or publisher wouldn’t see it that way. That they would want something more around the 70,000 word range, as this article suggests. And of course, like most writers I know—I’ve read Stephen King’s On Writing, which is a fabulous book but talks about him writing 180,000 word books which was very intimidating, but only because it was outside of my comfort zone of length (and also we write in very different genres).
Then I read this article by Dean Wesley Smith and it opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t the only writer struggling to fit into word length categories. It also helped me understand where some of these debates about word length were coming from. Check it out—trust me, you will find it illuminating (or at the very least—interesting).
What is the takeaway from this? For me, the takeaway is to keep writing, to keep reading and to keep working to become a better storyteller. After all, these are the things can help you generate and build trust in the stories you write, that result in a lot less second guessing and help you produce more work. And no matter which sources you are getting or seeking guidance from, these are the messages that seem to be consistently presented, which is comforting—at least to me.
And in case you’re interested, here’s a little infographic of the subtle shifts in the podcasts and books I've been reading over the last year, once I decided to become an indie author. (All of these resources are still valuable of course, I just find myself using one set more than the other).
What about you? How have your needs changed over your writing journey? Are there any resources and tools you find yourself using more than you used to?
Til next time—happy writing everyone!