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Last Week’s WW: Where and How, Physically Speaking

Every author starts somewhere.  No matter how big, or how small, famous or flop, at some point, there is always a first book.  At some point, you have to gather all your courage, sign a contract or press the publish button, and send your story out into the world.  But is that enough?

I have this fantasy scenario. It involves me, somehow, doing everything right.  Having my book but together the best it can be, being satisfied with it enough to let it go, getting the word out, having some reviews ready to go, marketing it on free sites for the first day or something, having established writers think it’s great and spread the word to their readers, and then, bam, next thing you know, my debut novel is a hit.

That’s what I dream of happening.

The reality is more likely that I’ll hit publish, and my book will go largely unnoticed.

I’m trying to make the right moves.  I’m trying to do things at the right time and in the right order.  But there is a lot of information and advice out there, and a whole lot missing.  So, it’s hard to know what is the best course of action.

Marketing and timing.

Otherworlders is finished.  It’s been through 3 drafts, 2 reads by my Alpha reader, a polish, and now it’s getting an edit.  It should be ready to go.   And yet, I’m not ready to let it.  You see, I’m also working on my serial fiction story Skyland.  I’m halfway done, and, in some ways, I like this story more.  It’s probably because it’s what I’m currently working on.  And, as we write more, the writing evolves and gets better.  As I’ve said before, it’s possible that we are always at our best with whatever we’re working on, making our last project worse by default.

I read an article that said that the best time to release scifi, and I suppose any genre fiction that isn’t specifically tied to a holdiay, is July and August.  Well, it’s June.  Otherworlders could be go to go.  I’ve begrudgingly accepted that it is highly unlikely that I could get Skyland out by the end of summer.  Not with revisions and all, and working my regular, exhausting job so much.   Which means, if I want to put the book out at the best time, and I pass on releasing Otherworlders, then I may have to wait a whole year.

But I have no marketing plan for Otherworlders.  I mean, put it up for free for a day, showcase it on some Facebook groups and possibly some pay sites?  I’m a little lost with the how of getting it out there.

For the serial book, I’ve got a plan.  I’ve got a strategy and a model to follow.  The other day author Matthew Mathers told me to contact him when it was done, that he loves to help new authors.  But, if I publish Otherworlders first, am I no longer a new author?  Do I burn that bridge by being impatient?  Do I wait, and put out Skyland first?

Which brings up the question:

How important is a debut novel, anyway?  Is it mandatory to hit it out of the park?

I’ve read a couple articles the last few days that give this advice: you can make a good living at being a writer, even if you’re not very good at it.  The idea is that there’s nothing wrong with being a mid-lister.  That if you put out enough books, enough will sell, and those sales will pile up, and eventually, it’ll be enough to live on.

That may all be true.

But I want to be better than mediocre.  To be honest, if my books sold in the top 10,000 on Kindle, I’d probably be ecstatic.  I’m happy that my children’s book broke one million.  (though, that wasn’t a serious project).  But I don’t want to aim for middle ground.  I want everything that I put out to be my best work.

Debut novels have two advantages in my opinion.  They can be great, and you can be instantly known for having an amazing debut novel.  Or, they can be bad.  And your work will get better.  Hopefully that first novel won’t hold you back.  With any luck, being that it was your first, maybe people will cut you some slack?  If that’s the case, then it makes sense to put your first work out as soon as it’s ready.

I don’t have an answer this week.  Only a question:

Is it better to publish quickly and profusely, or wait until you have the best of the best of what you can do?  How can you ever know that you have it?

It’s something to think about.  And if you have any insights, please comment.  I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences.