Writing My Way, Prolific or Plugger?
I know there are writers who pop their books out quickly. They write series and their fans are waiting for the next sequel. Hurry and get it done while you have them on the edge of their seat. Many are self-published, so they keep their own schedule. Many are e-books writers. It’s instant gratification with no waiting or rejection involved.
I had supper with a book club friend last evening. She asked me several questions about the entire process of an idea, the mechanics, editing, publishing. I realized as I answered her questions every author would answer from their own point of view, experience, style.
I’m not a prolific writer. I’ve been writing, i.e., working on stories, for a long time. For instance, in summer of 2016, 4RV Publishing will release two “new” books. They’ve been under contract with them since 2013. One, Rebecca & Heart, was one of the first things I ever wrote for publication. In 2008 Rebecca & Heart attended the Children’s International Book Fair in Bologna, Germany, with Brubaker & Ford, who were very excited about it. The week before they left, they asked “What else are you working on?” I told them about Avery and Gunner, historical fiction, Civil War for kids. They were very interested. So interested that while they showed Rebecca & Heart around they also promoted Avery. Two major publishers were interested and wanted a contract with the new author. They also wanted Avery and Gunner to be in five small books, one for each year of the war, instead of one large book. I worked on that as weeks and months went by. When the five books were finished they told the agents about some changes to be made to make it “edgier.” They were specific. I couldn’t do that. Avery was a Quaker, the year is 1861. “Edgy” isn’t who Avery is. They decided to pass, and they passed on Rebecca & Heart as part of the package. Since 2008, Rebecca has been submitted and rejected and rewritten in bits and pieces. The story I submitted to 4RV in 2013 barely resembles the simple little story that went to the Fair. Meantime, I wrote Blue-Eyed Doll, which 4RV snatched up immediately. So, in 2016, I’ll probably hear, “You are so prolific!” again.
Readers have no idea that Rebecca & Heart was written eight years ago, and Blue-Eyed Doll was almost two years in the writing process. Avery’s Battlefield and Avery’s Crossroad, in two books, took five years from beginning to contract. I’ve written a third, after many requests. It went to the editor in March and is in the reading queue for July. Once she reads it, she may reread it, take it to committee, and perhaps by fall I will know whether it will be published, and Avery’s Peace will probably not be out until the following year. So 2016 could have three releases. “Wow! You’re so prolific!”
Meanwhile, back at my desk, I answer the “What are you working on” question. In my file, I have: Missing Spokes, currently with a publishing company as a contest entry; I won’t know anything until July or August. If it’s rejected, I’ll be rewriting that one, again. Walker Hound of Park Avenue has been circulating, edited, rewritten, since 2012. I first wrote it in 2010. I submitted it yesterday. Henny Penny Looziann, a picture book, is ready for someone to look at. Waiting With Elmer, I think the best thing I’ve written, is ready to go after three or four years of tweak and polish. This summer I plan to write a nonfiction about a woman who, at age 15, was with the French Resistance in World War II.
Other authors have totally different styles and experiences. The ebook revolution has taken out the wait, the uncertainty and the rejection. Write it, put it on the internet, sell it for 99 cents, and you get instant fame and fortune. Give it away free, after a zillion downloads you get ranked on Amazon and zowie, you’re a best seller making real money.
But some authors still do things the old-fashioned way. Some of that has to do with the author’s goals. My goals involve schools, libraries, museums; longevity. I love books. I don’t read books on my kindle, and I don’t collect free or 99 cent ebooks. I pay for books I want to read. I want my books to be read by people who love books, and I won’t release them until they are the best I can make them. And that takes time. No, I’m not prolific. I’m a plugger.