Saturday, March 14, 2009

Welcome Lesley-Anne McLeod

Scheduling Releases

It's very nice to be here at Prairie Chicks! This blog is awesome and I'm so impressed by the Chicks' dedication to it, and their insights on the writing experience.

My fourth Regency romance 'Novel Byte', titled "Emilina's Conquest", was released by Uncial Press yesterday. A 'Novel Byte' is a piece of short fiction, 5,000 to 10,000 words long that is sold for a low price by the electronic publisher--quick reads for a small charge.

I will have another of these short reads, "Lost in Almack's", released by Uncial Press in the fall of this year, and in 2010, they will publish another full length Regency romance by me. I have seven 60,000+ word Regency romances 'in print'; that is, available as e-books. Three are sold at Awe-Struck E-Books and four are available at Uncial Press.

My production over the last eight years seems substantial but that is because I had three manuscripts in storage when I broke into 'print'. I was able to improve them and sell them after the first one was accepted. Since that initial burst of activity, I have produced one full length manuscript a year, with an occasional shorter piece thrown in.

That intense level of creation got tiring. So eight months or so ago, I had a serious think about the next two years. How hard did I want to work? How much time did I have? What could I produce? The author is always constrained of course by the process of her creation. There are slow writers, fast writers and phenomenally productive writers.

For an unpublished--pre-published--author the question is always: when will I be published? For an established author the question becomes, how often should I be published? (I am assuming here that you have a choice, that you are well-connected with a publisher who will go to contract on your proposals.) The really tricky questions are: how often do I need--as an established writer--to produce a new book? How long can an author be out of the new release spotlight, and still be recognized when she returns to it? Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Conversely, is more really better, or does the reader become tired of the author if she releases too often?

My suspicion is that you really can't produce too much or have too many new releases. If readers like your work, they'll buy every book you release as long as the quality remains high. And with that in mind, you have to consider when crafting a novel becomes churning out a product. If you are working too fast for your own creative ability, the quality of your writing will suffer. Better to produce less than allow that to happen.

I don't have the answers to any of my questions. Maybe you can help me form
ulate some. But I did come up with a plan that worked for me. I decided to write two Novel Bytes for 2009 and a full length Regency for 2010. I quite like that schedule, and I may propose it to my editor again: two Novel Bytes for 2011 and a full-length book for 2012. But the writing might not all be Regency romance--I think I have some other stories in me as well!

See more of Lesley-Anne McLeod's thoughts on writing and regency romance at The Regency World of Lesley-Anne McLeod (blog). And be sure to visit her website for information on her published works, the regency world (great resources listed), articles for writers, a regency coloring book, free stories, and even a contest.


Tara Maya said...

It's a really good point. I used to imagine I would churn out books just as fast as I could come up with ideas. I can write very fast at times -- 50,000 words in two weeks. But (1) that was before I had kids and (2) I forgot to take into account that I don't write 50,000 words EVERY two weeks. After a creative burst, I find I need a break.

I am trying now to work to a more disciplined schedule, rather than spurts of manic inspiration followed by long lulls. It's hard.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Good morning, Lesley-Anne. I decided to check in here tonight since we're heading into the city in the morning and there goes the day. :)

Thank you for joining us today. I enjoyed reading about your schedule. One of the agent blogs I follow talked about learning how to pace yourself now because once you're pubbed, not only will you have your writing to do, but there will come a time - if you're successful - when you'll have one ms in the creative process, one being revised, one needing edits and then your galleys arrive to be done yesterday!

So, you're very wise to know what you want to accomplish and stick with it. Have a fun day.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Tara, I'm just like you. During things like NaNo and Book in a Week, I can shoot out 50K in a week or two but then I procrastinate when it comes to revising them.

I like that phrase - spurts of manic inspiration. That's me. :)

Janet C. said...

Welcome Lesley-Anne. It's so good to have your here today. And great post. I think new writers are often unaware of what it means to be published - that now you're writing based on proposals and/or contracts. I know I was before I started doing all this 'research' (that's what I tell The Husband as I spend hours on the computer :)

Using the schedule you have created for yourself, do you see room in there for the exploration of other stories, other than regency? And what does your editor need from you in order to contract those two novellas and one full - a synopsis, an outline, a proposal?

Looking forward to the day.


Captain Hook said...

One goal I've always had before even trying for publication is to have at least 3 "completed" manuscripts, at least another 3 in various stages of revision and another 4-5 in rough draft phase.

My cousin is a published author who ended up being dropped by her agent because she was such a slow writer and after the first 2 books, had nothing for 10 years. So that side of the being ppublished issue I had an inkling about.

It's good to read your opinions about it though.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Anita and Captain Hook make good points. I'm working on the full length mss for 2010 right now, but within a couple of weeks I'm going to have to put that aside and do the finishing touches to the 2nd short piece for 2009, "Lost in Almack's". As well, I'll be overseeing the cover art for that short piece, and doing the blurbs and taglines for it. Then I'll go back to the full-length mss while waiting for the final edit of LinA. When they arrive I'll do those changes, start promo for LinA, and send some copies for review (the publisher sends most of the ARCs). It's a merry-go-round, and something you need to consider as you prepare to enter the published world.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Janet, I don't have much time to explore those other stories I'd like to write. They are historical also, which requires more research, as well as the writing time. I'm not sure how I'll handle it but no doubt it will become clear somehow.

My editor at Uncial Press knows me pretty well by now, so I only had to provide brief proposals for the two shorts and one full length mss; something to show I had a full story line in mind--beginning, middle and end--and that they held together. It's nice to get to this stage; it will be a shock if/when I go to a new publisher with a manuscript.

Silver James said...

Good morning, Lesley-Anne...well, afternoon now. I meant to come back and comment but I got caught up in revisions while the house was quiet this morning.

I think a lot depends on the length of the manuscript. Ripping off 60,000 words for a category seems pretty easy, while churning out 100,000 takes...almost twice as long. LOL I know several authors who had back-to-back-to-back releases--a new book for three months. They spent a couple of years getting ready for that. Talk about multi-tasking!

It is hard, once you have a book sold, to switch back and forth between the current WIP and the manuscript. (At least for me it is!) No matter how big a tantrum my Muse is throwing to get to work on the fresh stuff, my editor is tapping her fingers on the desk waiting for my revisions. What's that old adage? Writing (or genius depending on who's talking) is 1/10 inspiration and 9/10 perspiration. Writing is a job and setting realistic goals is a smart thing! Thanks for the great advice.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Yes, Silver, you're right, writing is a job. And controlling those 'spurts of manic inspiration', as Tara calls them, is part of the job. Those spurts can alienate family and make life difficult. If you can channel them and make them last over several days for two hours or so at a time, you'll be much better off. Sometimes it helps to stop writing at an exciting point and make it fun to come back to the next day.

I actually find revision more enjoyable than first draft. I don't write long and then cut, I start out short and build on it. And I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, so getting the framework down is the hard work. Building on it is the fun part.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Welcome to the Chicks, Lesley-Anne! I really enjoyed getting this insight into your work schedule. It's one thing I always wonder about when I'm published. I worry if I'll be able to get as much written as will be expected of me. I just remind myself I haven't exactly been able to learn what my writing pace actually is during these last few years, and I've been learning a lot about streamlining the process as I go. I sure hope it pays off :)

For myself, I have no problem waiting on a release if I love the author, but it's getting to that point in a career that's tough. If the writing maintains its quality, the frequency of releases isn't a problem, but there is also a point where I'd feel overwhelmed. I mean, if they're all well-written, compelling books, and an author is putting out several a year, how am I ever going to read them all? :)

Hazel said...

Well, I am literally awe-struck (if you'll pardon what could also be construed as a pun).

Since my writing process is far from the stage you are describing, Lesley-Anne, I could say, "What I wouldn't give for your problems!" However, you have laid out the issues very clearly, and I can see that the novice has no idea what is involved after that first ms is accepted. I can only hope that rubbing shoulders with some of the published authors that we have the great fortune to read on blogs and talk to in meetings will help the rest of us when, not if, we reach that same stage.

Thank you so much for your inspiration.

Karen said...

Great post Leslie and thanks for guest blogging at the Chicks.

I can see how a person needs to be realistic and honest with themselves about how much they can do. Thanks for the insight into your writing world.

Like Tara, I'm working hard at developing a realistic weekly writing schedule. One that I can carry through into the spring and summer months which is when I traditionally get next to no writing done.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Thanks, Hayley! Yes, I know the frustration of waiting for a favourite author's next release. There are several authors I'm waiting on right now, Laurie R. King, Lindsey Davis and Katie Fforde among others :)

Publishers have problems too with new releases. And Uncial Press seems to be among them at the moment. "Emilina's Conquest" isn't up yet. I'm waiting to hear when it will arrive, live and for sale. :(

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I read a very good quote the other day that I would like to share with you.

"No tears in the writer,
no tears in the reader."
Robert Frost

An important thing to remember as we write our stories. :)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Lesley-Anne,
Thank you for joining us! It's great to have you here.

I'm struggling with some of the issues you mentioned. Aside from writing new material, and doing edits and revisions on upcoming books, we are also expected to promote the books we already have in publication. Keeping a website in shape and participating in other promotional activities can take a fair bit of time. But it's something we need to do to keep our names out there.

Like Tara and Anita I too have creative bursts , but for the most part I'm a pretty slow writer. It drives me crazy, but I think it's just the way I operate.

Good luck on your new releases.


Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Thanks, Jana and all of you, for your comments and questions today!

The new release is up finally,

Now on to the next task in this writer's world...

Suse said...

Hi Lesley-Anne, thank you for sharing the reality of a published writer's life. As an unpublished book-length writer, I can only imagine what it would be like to have several books in different stages. I think it's somewhat like being pregnant. You know your life is going to change when the baby arrives, but you really have no idea until you take that baby home.

I think you're smart to plan what you're prepared to write in the next couple of years. If you don't put up boundaries, people will expect more than you can give and that isn't always good for you personally. You care about the quality of writing you send out, and I as a reader appreciate that. Good luck with your writing goals.

Prairie Chicks Write Romance said...

Just popping in to thank Lesley-Anne for guest blogging with the Chicks today. As an unpublished writer, I appreciate the glimpse into the life of an author.

Best of luck with your new release "Emilina's Conquest", and "Lost in Almack's" when it's released later this year.

A note for our readers - Lesley-Anne will be back for another guest blog on April 25th. I, for one, am looking forward to her post then.


Caffey said...

Hi Lesley! Sorry I missed your chat here but always can find the post so I really don't miss it! Congrats on the new book! These make for a beautiful weekend day read! Your historical are so much a comfort read for me!

I'm not a writer but interesting to know how you come to do deciding about how many books to get out there. I know I often am asking 'When is the next book' and I thought maybe I shouldn't ask that because I sound greedy! I learned more and more how much it takes for you authors to put your books together. I do love reading novella and Bytes reads between novels. So I enjoy those novellas that come between some novels for some authors. For example, they put out two books a year, and getting to read a novella between those six months is a treat for me! I've seen others have more books out a year some just one. I never think there are too many. But I don't care for a very short story except for maybe reading it on the author site (sometimes it didn't feel justifiable to buy some like 12 pages or so). But if no books are coming out in a while, I do still like to get the newsletter each month. I think that helps to keep the author in touch with their readers and whats coming and other news. Too I love them to recommend other authors that may like write historicals, that they read, so that we have recommendations in between their books! I love hearing what authors I read, what they read! So all that is important to me. Hope this helps! Loved reading all the replies too.

I'm looking forward to visiting here again!