I think most authors – most artists – would tell you that, at any given time, they have one core project that they’re working on. As you get further along, however, the designation of a “main project” gets a little blurred. For example, here are the main things that I’m doing right now:
- Writing the Next Book – currently, I’m adding words every day to a new book in the Wild Nines universe, mostly because it’s a story idea that came into mind and it’s one I want to tell. However, unlike the previous works I’ve done (and starting with Rakers), I’m not planning on doing the whole series out of the gate. Meaning one after another. Like drinking shots one after another, writing numerous novels in the same universe can get, well, nauseating isn’t the right word but, like the shots, it loses the edge. With both the first Wild Nines and Riven, I found I became so familiar with the universes that they lost some of their potential to surprise. So I’m trying to bounce around a little more. This novel is a chance to experiment – to “go home” to a place I’ve been before and see how it’s changed and what new stories there are to explore.
- Formatting and Covers – Rakers is sitting right in this stage. The text is pretty much done. Now it’s the little things – like adding in an author’s note, doing the formatting, deciding on the cover. It’s in the final stages before jumping out into the world, but there are a lot of little things that have to be done before a book can go from that shiny word doc on your computer to something buyable on Amazon. I spend some time working on this every day after getting the writing done on the next novel – I find that tackling more business-centric things is easier in the afternoons and evenings when working up the energy to spit out new chapters can be difficult. This exhaustion, of course, is an individual thing and, in periods of crisis, can be dealt with through suitable application of espresso.
- Managing various storefronts, promotions, etc. – And here’s the truly deceptive part about being an author. There are always tasks to be done in this area. Always. Whether it’s updating links on your author website or your online store, entering “about the author” details on various fronts, or making sure you’ve applied for various promotional opportunities… this is the endless timesink. I’ve found some success simply by taking two or three things that should be done in this bucket every day. More if I’m feeling particularly adventurous. With every published title, this becomes a bigger and bigger task (though commensurately more exciting!). It’s sometimes strange to think that by doing work (writing), you create more work for yourself (publishing and promotion) whereas in most normal jobs completing a task doesn’t, nesting doll-style, cause ten more to appear.
I could jot down more things here – like researching and plotting new books, listening to podcasts and reading publishing articles to stay up with what’s going on in the industry, or eating food (a mainstay of every day for me). Point being, it’s a rare and unproductive day if all I do is squeeze out more words. Sometimes, that thought gets a little depressing, because who doesn’t want to live in the romantic ideal of the scribbler by the sea, spending days listening to the waves and surfing their imagination, only to hand off a completed manuscript to an ecstatic publisher?
Then again, we don’t have to write it all by hand. So there’s that.