I'm still a bit undecided as to what my next project is going to be. I wrote up a detailed (except for the ending) synopsis of the YA/dragon/deformed teen novel I've been kicking around and sent it out for feedback. An interesting thing occurred while writing the synopsis. Before starting, I thought I had a good idea of how the plot would progress. The plot changed as I started writing; becoming a better, more interesting story. Time and time again I sit down at the keyboard with a plan in my head and that plan changes as I actually put words into the computer. My fingers seem to know more about the story than my brain does! I also surprised myself—I managed to make a connection with another of my books. It won't be a strong connection, but it's there and that opens it up for a third book to tie everything together. The problem though is—will it sell?
Writers write because they must—it's an itch that just has to be scratched. But if we have a choice between working on a new novel that is part of a proven series and working on a novel that will turn a stand-alone into a 3-book series with unknown sales potential…well…it's a hard decision. If I go ahead with the YA (which might turn out to be more of a book for adults), I will pretty much have to write the third book in the series. That will delay work on a Dragonverse 3 by 3 years. I already have a tentative agreement by a prominent YA (Young Adult for those who don't know) author to take a look at the final product once it's done late next year. Her schedule and my writing schedule seem to be a pretty good match—at least for next year. Do I go ahead with this new story and delay work on Dragonverse 3? Do I forget about the new book as well as Dragonverse and work on another Peacekeeper (which has been doing quite well)?
Right now, I'm leaning heavily toward the young adult/dragon book mostly because it is the one that seems stuck in my head. I don't have a firm idea for the ending though and if I can figure that part out then it will be a go. I'm also waiting to hear back from Susan Forest to see what she thinks of the synopsis I sent her. I have been told by several people that my endings need more work. Nobody is perfect and everyone can learn by listening to constructive feedback. That's why I listen to my readers. The way I figure it, if someone takes the time to write to me to point out what I did good and where I can improve, then I'm going to take the time to listen to them. There are some writers who never read their reviews or reply to reader emails. I don't believe that's the right approach.
Although writing is a solitary activity, writers should not live in isolation. We need to interface with other writers as well as the people who read our words. Before going to Launch Pad, my only contact with other writers was the small number of people in the writer's group I attend monthly. The leader is a mystery novelist and most of the regular attendees are unpublished. Launch Pad put me in contact with a movie producer, a game developer, award-winning editors, and professional, published, and award-winning authors. Each and every person I've met over the years has had some impact on my writing. You may not realize it, but your brain is always learning. Take advantage of this fact and get to know your readers and other writers.
This past Saturday, my wife and I were at the local Barnes & Noble as we almost always are on a Saturday. There was an author there: Donald Templeman. He has 4 books out and he was promoting his latest. I stopped by and said hello. His intro pitch was perfect and I was tempted to buy a copy. Unfortunately, I simply don't have the time to read another book at the moment. We chatted for awhile and then I let him know I was also an author. He took my card and listened as I told him about Launch Pad. I hope to hear from him again. His books are getting good reviews and it would be nice to add yet another author to my list of writer friends.
There are rumors that the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) are voting on whether or not to admit indie writers into the organization. I'm not sure what membership would bring us, but being allowed to join would be one step toward acknowledging that indies are actual writers. Most indies work just as hard on a book as a writer who has been published by one of the major publishing houses. Fact is, if you're a good indie, you probably work harder. The publishing companies cannot be expected to sign contracts for hundreds of new authors every year. That leaves self-publishing as the only other avenue for writers like myself to publish their works and it's time the SFWA acknowledges that fact. I haven't tallied up my total sales recently but I'm sure I'm over the 100,000 mark--if not, I'm damned close. Why can't I join the SFWA?
I'll be keeping an eye on this and I will let you know if I hear of any changes in policy.