Monday, September 24, 2018

The Great Experiment

The Great Experiment

I would like to invite you along for the ride as I attempt my "Great Experiment!"

What is "The Great Experiment?"

Well, first a little background for those of you who don't know me.

The most important things to me as an author are writing unique, one-of-a-kind fiction--the quirkier the better--and trying new things creatively. I like to set up writing challenges for myself as I embark on each new project. 

They are craft-related goals.

I'll try writing a different genre, experimenting with a new format, change up POVs, blend storylines in a novel. I try to do something totally different creatively and push myself as a writer.

Example: A few years ago, I decided to write a romance with characters in their late 50s/early 60s--not common at that time, and in fact the characters were considered way too old and not appropriate for romance. That was a challenge I couldn't pass up. I also made the couple fairly unlikable characters, and attempted a short-format as an added test. Could I make readers root for this couple by the end of the book? Believe their love story? And accomplish that with 21,000-words?

Could I do it?

I really had no idea, but the challenge was worth the risk and fun to boot.

Shockingly, APPLES SHOULD BE RED did extremely well. It's not for everyone, but the unexpected aspect got it attention and it received many excellent reviews, awards, even a potential film deal, etc.

That was an experiment with a happy ending. (In the matter of complete transparency, I've attempted many projects that failed and have ended up in the trash bin. As one does).

My outside-the-box thinking also applies to marketing/promotion. I am not interested in "playing the game" as far as typical promotion/marketing/branding. Believe me, as an introvert extraordinaire, if I could reinvigorate the "Hermit Model for Authors"--living alone in a shack in the woods--I would be all over that. 

As I came to terms with these truths about my own personality, I realized that the "stuff authors should do"--at least for genre fiction--is not a good fit for me. Most of these things make me uncomfortable.

The list includes aggressive promotion, writing-to-market, joining secret author groups that offer the "holy grail" (HOW TO MAKE A BESTSELLER LIST), attending huge reader events, and so on.

I decided I wanted to make a new publishing model for myself that focused on personal connections with other authors and readers, in smaller, more intimate groups. Not based on the need to sell/make money, but for authentic friendships to form. I also wanted to make connections with a more eclectic group of people, including scientists, artists, musicians. Creative and curious people in all different types of professions/with various interests.

I know, this strategy is sucky if you're trying to make tons of money. But if you're just trying to be happy and creatively fulfilled--which are my personal goals--it's a good plan. 

What I'm wondering now is this...if you don't "play the game" and follow these lists, if you try something totally outside-of-the-box, can you still find an audience and a modicum of success?

Here is my overall game plan for this publishing experiment...

1. Minimal social media accounts.

2. No street team. 

3. Speaking engagements: yes (especially small groups...super fun for me). Book readings: Yes (that's my favorite). Huge reader events: No.

4. Focus on unique fiction, original material.

5. Focus on stand-alone books.

6. No writing groups/loops focused on marketing/promotion.

7. "Small Batch Whiskey" model for sales/branding. High quality, small batch, unique one-of-a-kind product, and focus on connecting with small groups not massive followings.

8. Home-grown website.

9. Authentic branding.

10. No author/reader groups.


Don't bother me...I'm in my shell!

Current goals...

1. Finish BLUE, which is so far out of the box it probably needs a new galaxy.

2. Upon completion of book...Query agents/publishers. I had a small publisher when I first started writing, then branched into self-publishing. I think this book would do well with a more traditional approach. Worth a try, and if not, I can self-pub it.

3. I have a very unique plan for promotion, which I'll discuss as it happens. 

4. Continue to do things that make me happy...give workshops about self-care for authors, craft, etc. Travel. Meet new people.

5. FLEXIBILITY in terms of work/life balance. If my family needs me, they come first.  

So, this is the experiment. I made up my own rules of engagement. Will this work?

I have no freakin' idea, but it's worth a try.

For those of you playing at home, you can follow me on this blog/website for updates. I'll try to post on Mondays with an update for the week. I also have wonderful interactions on Facebook, pretty much the last-man-standing for my social media accounts. Friend me there if you're so inclined.

I would love to hear about your goals, achievements, and progress. Join me here to share. Are you creating a tailor-made plan for you? Are you following a more traditional path on your writing/publication journey? Let's chat. 

Share your weekly goals and let us know how you're doing, what's working/not working. WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIMENT?

Thanks for following along...


P.S. First Week of Updates

1. Status of BLUE: at approximately 10,500 words

2. Work on edits for existing sections, add new section switching POV from boy to girl. 

3. For folks interested in a sneak peek at BLUE, here's a link.

4. Hygge goal for the week: Make miniature terrariums with ferns/moss donated by neighbor.