Monday, June 7, 2021

Advice to the Frustrated Author



We all know that writing is not the way to get rich fast, but I’m sure everyone following this blog has been frustrated with writing and publishing at least once. I know I was. Several times.

The good thing is that I’m stubborn as a mule. If I want something, I work to get it, even if it takes ages. I shudder to think how many of you give up because the headwind is too strong.

 So here are a few words of encouragement:

Things will get better!

Your Indie sales are low? Agents reject your queries again and again? That’s all too familiar to most of us. If you don’t mind listening, I’ll tell you a bit about my journey.

 When I started out Indie publishing at a time where the concept was still alien, most people told me I’m crazy (I am but that’s beside the point). I hand-sold 1000 copies of my first ever novel (a historical novels based on genealogical research) over the next 2 years, and the feedback I got was great. BTW, the novel is still selling today.

 So, enthusiastic as I was, I thought I was destined to become a good mid-list author. I got an agent and wrote more novels. One by one, they were rejected. And that wasn’t a question of quality. To prove the point: I got phone calls from German editors who apologized for not accepting my novel despite their strength. They had guidelines from their admin that told them only to buy historical novels set in the Middle Ages, or fantasy novels that were set in a Tolkienesque world.

 I returned to self-publishing, and since I was bilingual, I wrote my novels in English. I had no idea of cover design, copy writing, or marketing, and never heard of rapid release, eMail lists, or writing to genre. I only wanted to tell stories that other people liked. Sure, I found some rabid fans but no financial success.

 After Indie publishing more than 12 novels, 14 novellas, and a stack of short stories, I sat back and re-evaluated what success meant to me. I had learned a lot since the gold-rush times of Indie publishing and realized that my love and my strength lay with short fiction. I prefer writing short stories and novellas, and my fans love those tales for their rich small-scale worldbuilding. So I started honing my short tale craft and began sending out my stories.

 To my great surprise, the very first one I sent out was snatched up and included in the IWSG anthology "Voyagers: The Third Ghost" and the editors loved it. Nearly at the same time, the Swords & Sorcery online magazine bought my story "A Twist in Katlani’s Plan". And a few months later, Dean Wesley Smith bought one of my short stories for his Pulphouse Magazine (it’ll get published sometime later this year). There’s no question of what I’ll be doing for a while yet: I’ll be writing short stories, sending them out to paying markets for some time to come.

 Sometimes being mule-headed has its advantages. You just have to find the right direction for your inner mule. With that in mind:

Cherish your mulishness and write with joy!

Katharina, commonly known as Cat, was raised in the middle of a forest in Germany where she and her three brothers roamed and dreamed. But even tomboys grow up, and therefore she got an education, programmed a forest growth simulator, and returned to the love of her life, her now-husband, with a rather useless PhD in science and the head filled with strange facts about our world.
When her best friend unearthed a box of historical documents about her family that reached as far back as the 15th century, Cat wrote two historical novels. During that time, her dream child landed in her little family, followed by two beloved foster children with special needs.
So she put aside all aspirations of ever working as a forester and focused on raising her children and writing the best books she’s capable of. By now she’s dabbled in several genres, mainly Fantasy (fairy tale retellings), SciFi, and Historical Stories. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The right direction for your inner mule - well said!

Juneta key said...

Mules can be quit enduring, lol. Persistence is the authors friend. Great advice. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Pat Hatt said...

Finding that right direction sure is the way.

Karen Lynn said...

Mules all around. Persistence and stubbornness will pay off in the end.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Your journey to publication mirrors that of many authors who have persisted as you did. Your encouragement through the rough times is good advice for anyone who loves writing. After spending years writing novel-length stories, I am enjoying the pleasure of writing short stories, also.

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

I keep writing because I really don't know how to do anything else. Also because if I don't do it, I fall into a state of utter uselessness, and then nothing gets done in any other area of my life.
Writing I can do. I also get around to editing eventually. I'm an entire permanently burning trash fire when it comes to promotion, and on top of that, I'm on a fixed income and have no advertising budget. Le sigh.

kjmckendry said...

Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Forget the muse, find the mule. Great advice!

cleemckenzie said...

Stubbornness is definitely one quality a writer must have.