And it's not just me. Colleagues seem to lament upheavals in an industry that is very busy turning itself inside out these days. Doesn't this seem silly from a group of people who individually and collectively can not exercise enough self-control to look at a manuscript page without editing or revising something? Isn't change what we do under the guise of polishing and perfecting?
When I wrote Where Souls Collide, the title changed umpteen times. It was called Inkling at that point and even finalled in a writing contest. After the contest win though, I too, the book's good score as a sign to change the story. "You didn't win," I told myself. "So something needs to be fixed."
That fix resulted in me deleting about 60 percent of the story. What I came to realize when I finished writing Inkling was that the world had changed -- a lot -- in the five years since I started the story. Heroines no longer had an entire book to complete a character arc that left them savvy and empowered. No, kick-ass was in and my girl had to get some attitude. Oh, and I changed the title.
The book sold within the year.
But after that first sale, came the selling of the book itself. Since I was lucky enough to have a day job as a communications professional, I knew how to develop a marketing plan and where to find resources to help execute that plan. Then, I went out and advertised, promoted, interviewed, updated my web site, and so much more. Including starting a blog.
Fast forward a couple of years, and my second anthology is due out in two weeks. With this story, I'm happy to report, no gutting took place because I have a better understanding of plotting and story structure. There's a marketing plan with the same basic tactics I applied to my debut, but this time online promotion gets its very own page in my plan. And my writing process has changed once more to reflect the reality of a publisher's deadline and not my own forgiving timetable.
Are the changes in my writing world easier to make than the ones in my working life? Sometimes. While altering your favorite scene in the book of your heart can be tough, more often you're driven by the desire to sell your story -- whether that's to an editor, a reviewer or a reader. You want the story your imagination concocted to be liked. It's change that writer's accept; the kind that helps people "get" your story. That's good.
But change that cuts your cost-of-living raise, increases your duties, or eliminates your job, well, that's bad. For me, this kind of change is harder to take and to make because I have so little control over the factors that led to the change or even the outcome of those changes. With a book, if I want my heroine to become more aggressive, I have control over my hero's reaction and the couple's happily-ever-after.
More importantly, the overall changes that I've gone through as a writer, now published author, have led to a deep sense of personal and professional growth I would not have achieved if I'd chosen to remain stagnant and not flex with the publishing industry.
The digital era is descending on books, the way downloaded music crashed into that industry. What's important to remember is that iTunes may have replaced the distribution point, but it didn't stop the music from being made. Those who can work within that change have a better chance of selling CDs in the new world than those who throw up their hands and refuse to accept the evolution.
As long as I continue to learn, produce quality stories, and like what I'm doing in the process, I'll flex (within limits) to make writing work for me. But what about you? What are you willing to change within a story or yourself in order to make a sale? What industry changes are you looking forward to -- or not? What have you learned about yourself as a writer since your beginnings? Let us know! And thanks for stopping by to share my musings and yours.