With 30+ titles under Penname and SKQ, I’ve got more IP than some small presses. As such, I begin to appreciate the problems they have with properly marketing all of their catalog, but more importantly, I’ve become my own Acquisitions Editor.
WRITE AND RELEASE
There’s this idea in Indie Land that you have to write, release, write, release. Write.Publish.Repeat (a great book BTW) encapsulates this idea. But the truth is that you *don’t* have to publish, and you definitely don’t have to publish everything you write the moment it’s done. Especially if you’ve written less than, say, 5 novels… your main focus should be on writing.
I think in the earlier indie days, there was more to this idea – back in 2011 when I started out, you could write just about anything, throw it out there, and if you kept doing it, you’d find an audience. Part of this was because the supply was still low, ebooks were still new, and that early adopter reader was pretty forgiving.
Ebooks are now a maturing industry. Indie works have gone mainstream, readers are more sophisticated in demanding better works, and the supply has gone way up. All of which means that just writing any old thing and throwing it out there, over and over, is unlikely to get you the traction you need to sell enough to make this a profit-making venture. (Although fast publishing, if you can maintain it, can still work its own kind of magic.)
Which brings me back to acquisitions… you can and SHOULD write what you wish. In fact, you HAVE TO… you need to go where the joy is with this work because that is where you will be inspired, and this job won’t be a job but your life’s work. If you’re dragging yourself to the keyboard, rather than dragging the keyboard with you wherever you go… you’re doing it wrong. You need to be IN LOVE with the writing again and always. If you don’t publish for a while because you’re getting your groove back as a writer.. that’s okay! In fact, it’s brilliant. And if you’ve put on your acquisition editor hat and decided what the market needs and want to commission a work from yourself… make sure it’s one you can excavate and find joy in.
For me, I commission almost all my works from myself now. As acquisition editor of my own small publishing empire, I analyze the market to see what will sell and commission some of those works. So I end up publishing as soon as something is written, but only because it’s already in the publishing plan, ready to make money as soon as it’s released. But, as acquisition editor, I also know it’s important to support my talent, to help them realize their potential (the “them” being “me”). So I fully support publishing those works that don’t have a market (necessarily) or that might go places in the story that are outside genre expectations. The SKQ Press is very author friendly. And if my talent needs to just write for a while without publishing, I make sure they know that’s okay.
(Pennames make it easier to talk – and think – about oneself in the third person.)
Your works never go away. They don’t die or age. Don’t rush to publish. You can give yourself the gift of time to grow as an artist and then publish smart after that. Your Acquisitions Editor will tell you that those two things actually go together very nicely.