RWA National: The Slow Writer

Successful author Courtney Milan, a former scientist and attorney, had some great advice for writers who don’t maintain a pace demanded by the changing markets and analytics of the hybrid publishing market. Milan reminded everyone that everyone’s definition of “making a living” is different. The key is to determine what your goal is and how to adapt your process to make it as effective as possible in achieving your goals. The current market is predicated on a 90-day release pattern. Fast writers can make that happen. Slow writers? Not so much.

If you’re a slow writer but want to increase your earnings potential, you’ll have to concentrate efforts in three areas :

The visibility window for current releases favors the fast. Lots of releases equals lots of visibility and higher positions on lists. This is where being slow can work to your advantage, as long as you have plenty of material on file. To maximize visibility, plan a visibility event roughly every 90 days. These events could include a new release, a change in pricing, or perhaps a giveaway. This keeps your name in front of readers and makes your work easier to find by the list bots.

Fast writers have more consistent income streams than slow ones. The slower you are, the more important it is to wring everything out of your book that you can, like translations and audiobooks. You also have to be practical and reinvest in your business so that paying for translation or recording services is possible. Resist the urge to spend all your proceeds; you’ll need that money elsewhere.

By far, the most important thing for a slow writer is to make people remember you as a writer. This isn’t a problem for fast writers whose names are in front of readers frequently. Slow writers need to focus on the back page of the book as a key to ensuring reader memory. At that point, they’re the most satisfied with your story and with you as a writer–use it to your advantage! Tell them how to subscribe to your newsletter.┬áProvide links to you other works (be sure to mention any connection to the current book, like, “If you enjoyed John’s story, find out what happens to his bad brother Bill in Next Fabulous Title.”) so your fans need to know where to find the next book.

In all honesty, the faster writers will always make more money than the slow ones unless the slow ones work strategically. Always be working. Manage your time well. Use software like Freedom to track your time and keep you working instead of Net surfing. If you can afford it, outsource tasks that take up time but don’t help your production, like laundry or cleaning or research.

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