A Deeper Analysis of My 2016 Writing/Publishing Year by Leta Blake

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Looking back, did you write more than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you’d predicted?

I always overestimate what I’m going to get done, so I’d go with less. I always think I’m a super-human machine who will be endlessly inspired and motivated to crank out word after word after word. Then it turns out I’m human and have down periods and times when four pages just won’t “lay flat” and I spend a week on them.

What did you write that you would never have predicted in January?

I published Angel Undone. That was never in my plan for the year. It hit me in June that I was essentially done with the story. That it was finished in my heart and that it was either going to languish on my hard drive forever or I was going to send it out into the world. So I quickly polished it up and published it. I also never would have guessed that I’d be working on my current WIP. It was never, ever in the plan for 2016/2017, but events transpired with the fall releases that made me have to take a step back from my goals in October. This WIP hopped into that space overflowing with words and begging to be written. In my need for something to feel good/right/moving, I took it on, despite reservations about it. And now I’m nearly 50% finished with the book. I hope to have it out in early spring.

What’s your own favorite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest?

The unfinished book that makes me the happiest is the one I’m working on right now. It’s a bit top secret until I’m closer to the release date, but let’s just say that it involves, um, male pregnancy. The book I published this year that makes me the happiest is You Are Not Me. You have to suffer through Pictures of You to get to it, but everything about You Are Not Me fills me with joy. Maybe I’m weird, but, unf, I love these characters so damn much.

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Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?

I did! Everything I did this year was a risk, from doing the Will & Patrick Wake Up Married serial to releasing ’90’s Coming of Age books, to Angel Undone. The real question is which risks paid off? And what does it mean for something to “pay off”?

Will & Patrick turned out to be a brilliant choice. It was crazy fun to write and has turned into a consistent little money maker, which, let’s get frank, is important.

Angel Undone didn’t really pay off in terms of critical reviews or sales, but it did get the hell off my hard drive and that, believe it or not, is a pay off that is priceless in some ways. No more agonizing over what to do with this little story. It’s out and done.

And then ’90’s Coming of Age (Pictures of You & You Are Not Me)… Well, guys, I don’t know. I have a lot of mixed emotions about this risk because it did exactly what I expected it to do: it was a financial and sales flop, but a critical darling, and, dammit, I lived off those reviews like it was ambrosia of the gods. But reviews don’t pay bills and they don’t put food on the table. For the first time ever, books I self-published didn’t pay for themselves or even come close. I’ll be releasing something in the new year regarding the plans for ’90’s Coming of Age, but I will state here that I can’t afford to put out more in the series until I produce something that refills the coffers.

So, the risk of publishing the ’90s Coming of Age series paid off in a few ways: wonderful reviews, dedicated fans, and starting the process of getting a 14 year old project put to bed. But now I’m looking at knowing that I have to invest another large hunk of money into two more books in order to finish it off, and I have quite clear evidence that those two books won’t be able to pay for themselves. So I have to be careful and very wise with my next publishing choices. Something my muses don’t understand–as evidenced by the male pregnancy WIP!

So, I guess, as you’ve seen, I’m diving into bigger risks this year, too. But more on that later.

My most popular story of this year:

The Wake Up Married serial for sure!

Story of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:

Ha! Well, I think it’s pretty clear from my rambling above that Pictures of You & You Are Not Me didn’t get massive sales numbers (or even decent sales numbers) so that’s what I’d have to go with, though I will say the people who did read it, mainly reviewers and those who got ARCs, seemed to love the books so much that I felt they were quite appreciated by those who took the plunge.

Most fun story to write: 

I have adored working on this current story! It’s just been delicious and fun and everything I’ve needed right now.

Story with the single sexiest moment:

Hmm, I think that You Are Not Me has a really sexy moment, but it’s not as graphic as some I’ve written.

Most “Holy crap, that’s wrong, even for you” story:

Probably this male pregnancy story? Or maybe the dark erotica I’m working on under a different pen name?

Story that shifted my own perceptions of the characters:

You Are Not Me. Once I understood Daniel, everything fell into place.

Hardest story to write:

We Can Be Good. The third book in the ’90’s Coming of Age series. I wrote 90,000 words of it several years ago and in reviewing those words recently I was sort of horrified to realize that most of it has to go. (And most of it is sex. Apparently, I was really into showing ALL THE SEX and that just doesn’t fit the vibe of the books anymore.) So now, between realizing that I’m basically going to start Book 3 from scratch, and knowing that I haven’t even come close to paying for Books 1 & 2, I sort of quail in fear every time I open the document. I’ll move past it, though. Eventually. It will be released in 2017. I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Biggest Disappointment:

*smiles softly* I think that’s pretty clear by now.

Biggest Surprise: 

How well the Wake Up Married serial was received. I had been told that serials were a mistake and a disaster and don’t do it, but while they weren’t the rousing success of Smoky Mountain Dreams, they have proved consistent and worth the time and effort.

Most Unintentionally Telling Story:

Definitely the male pregnancy WIP I’ve got going. All my societal issues are getting dumped into it. Yay.

Do you have any goals for the New Year?

I do! I wrote a whole blog post about that a few weeks ago. Check out the second half of THIS POST for my 2017 goals.

I’ll update more on my plans for ’90s Coming of Age books in a week or so. Until then, let me leave you with the best New Year’s Wish in the world, penned by Neil Gaiman:

 

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Writing Round Up – Taking Stock of the Year #amwriting #2013

Over on LiveJournal, under my fandom persona, I’ve always done an end of the year round up of writing meme. I decided to transfer that here this year.

Number of Books Published in 2013
1. Ascending Hearts with Keira Andrews
2. Love’s Nest with Keira Andrews
3. Training Season

Words Written in 2013
1. Training Season – 60,000 new words
2. Love’s Nest – hilariously, I had 51,900 at the end of 2012, but didn’t actually finish the book until February of 2013, and, after edits, it was down to 51,061. So, I netted no words there. – 0 words
3. Binasco Bakery – 5,630
4. ’90s Coming of Age – novel – 24,000 new words (at least, but I don’t have a good ‘before’ count)
5. Falling – novella – 10,000 new words
6. Smoky Mountain Dreams – novel – 0 new words
7. Everything Is Yes – novella – 10,000 new words
8. Trans* Story – novella – 11,242
9. Sheriff Jackson – novella – 951
10. Lost Souls – novel – 0 new words
11. Bucket List – novel – 1,034
12. Ask Jungle Jason – novel – 2,314
13. Always Naked Men – short – 2,648
14. Heist – 457
15. Stalking Dreams – novella – 9,986
16. Leuka – original novel – 0 new words (poor Leuka)
17. Lost Sea – original novel – 0 new words
18. HertClub – original novel – 0 new words
19. Stalking Novel – novel – 44,777
20. For Reasons – novel – 3,158

Subtotal: 186,197 <–Wow, that is totally not enough! Not even close to enough. I have to do better this year.

I also wrote 75,000 words of pure smut under a different pen name. Nope, not sharing it here, but I did write it and it’s out there bringing in smut money. 😉 So, I’ll count those words toward my total count. (And also make note to decide if these words paid off monetarily in terms of focus, time, effort, etc.)

TOTAL WORD COUNT – 261,197

I’d like to hit 350,000 new words in 2014.

Overall Thoughts:

Looking back, did you write more than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you’d predicted?

I always overestimate what I’m going to get done, so I’d go with less. I’d have wanted to break 300k word count, at least.

What did you write that you would never have predicted in January?

I finished Training Season. That was never in my plan for the year. It hit me in August that I had an old draft of a book about an Olympian and that, hey, the Winter Olympics were coming up. If I wanted to do something about that, now was the time. So, when I started the year, Training Season was not even in my plans.

What’s your own favorite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest?

Training Season, actually. It is the kind of book I want to write and I’m proud of it.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?

I decided to finish and self-publish Training Season. I learned that I love, love, love self-publishing. I love having control over when the editing happens, when it’s released, how the cover looks, etc. I love being able to make coupons for the book to provide discounts for special occasions. I love the freedom of choosing if I want to go to print or not. I love it all. At this point, I might need to be sold on why I should return to a publisher. The last one I dealt with offered very little in exchange for their 60% of profits, and they were often rude in correspondence, didn’t seem invested in getting my book out there, and sales were abysmal. So, yeah, I’m not sure where the benefit is, necessarily, except perhaps in access to readership. For that reason, I’ll probably submit a few books to publishers, but I will have to be won over whole hog before I’ll submit every book.

I’ve decided to take a huge writing risk next year. But I’ll save that for later!

From my past year of writing, what was…

My most popular story of this year:

Training Season, for sure.

Story of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:

Ha! Well, I guess it would have to be poor Love’s Nest. I’m not sure what the problem is with selling the book, because, though the other two fairy tales didn’t fare very well either, they acutally did better. I suspect it’s the pricing, but I have no control over that, since it’s not self-pubbed. (Oh, hindsight!)

Most fun story to write:

I loved working on Stalker Novel [half-finished]. It was a blast. I loved finishing up Training Season. I had fun with the expansion of Coming of Age Novel [also half-finished].

Story with the single sexiest moment:

I write so much sex that I have no f’ing clue! LOL!

Most “Holy crap, that’s wrong, even for you” story:

There’s a lot of that going on in Everything Is Yes [submitted to a press].

Story that shifted my own perceptions of the characters:

Everything Is Yes.

Hardest story to write:

Love’s Nest. I am very happy with how it came out, but there were parts that were like pulling teeth, and we knew sales would be abysmal, so feeling inspired to finish it was quite hard, to be entirely honest.

Biggest Disappointment: Everything about the publishing experience prior to self-publishing. Though, as I said, I’m willing to try another house and see if things are different. But, wow, I didn’t anticipate the complete lack of investment from the house we were with.

Biggest Surprise: Training Season‘s reception! What is this madness!?!?!

Most Unintentionally Telling Story: Oh, hell. They probably all are very telling. I’m sure the way I had to approach the kink in Training Season or Everything Is Yes is the most telling of all, though.

Do you have any goals for the New Year?

I want to put out ’90s Coming of Age Novel as a serial. I want to finish ’90s Coming of Age Novel, Stalking Novel, and Trans* Story. I also want to start the Bill/Angus companion novella to Training Season. Though, if you look above, I’ve got twenty-one works in progress, so I’m always wary of starting a new book. But, I think if I finish the three I mentioned, then I would be in the clear to go forward with Bill/Angus. I really want to get my het novel, For Reasons, mostly finished, too. I just opened it up to see the word count earlier, and, oh my god, I love it! Ahem. Anyway, that’s what I’d like to do, but I have no idea if that’s possible.