I’ve been having a (rather extended) whiny moment. My poor CP has been getting the brunt of it, and it all has to do with the next project I want to work on.
Key word: want.
Remember last week, when I said that deciding what projects to work on was a whole ‘nother animal? Here it is. I have to wonder if more established authors have this same issue, hell, if new authors have this same issue, or if this is just me penguin-flapping about and making a big deal out of nothing.
When I put together my plan/outline/to-do list for 2017, I had to take a good, hard look at the projects I had more than a hint of an idea for and decide which one (or ones) to spend my time on, since my time is getting more and more limited. I had three in mind: an erotic romance, a romantic suspense, and an urban fantasy. All three get my creative juices going. I have opening chapters for all three projects. I have thoughts about what to do with all three projects once they were completed. Most importantly, I believe I could work on any one of them and keep going until I hit THE END and not want to take a break in the middle to work on something else.
Yeah, having three separate stories banging around in your head, looking for the exit, is not all that fun.
This is where the want comes in.
While I want to work on all three, I want to work on the urban fantasy. Urban fantasy is what got me into romance. Chloe Neill’s Merit is hands down one of my all-time favorite heroines because she’s so damn complex. She’s a dancer, a scholar, a katana-wielding badass, someone who is equal parts snark, vulnerable, and smart. I wanted to create heroines like her. I have done it. And when I started thinking about this project, it just sort of…spun out in front of me. I saw the series arc, the character arc, how I could easily draw the romantic arc to a satisfying conclusion within the first three books if I had to. I’m a better writer than I was when I first drafted Shadowdemon, and I know I could write this story and write it well. I could even write it well enough a publisher would want to buy it.
I put it aside. Because while I’m confident I could get a contract for it, I am not confident readers will buy it. And that’s why this stage of the game sucks and hurts and makes me want to cry and throw tantrums. I have a backlist. It’s small, but at the end of 2016, it’ll be twice as big as it was at the end of 2015. Sales are low (and let’s not talk about how low they are), but with each new release, I have hope sales will grow. I’m lucky; I’m not trying to decide what to write next by writing to trends. Some people will do this. Some will even enjoy it. I’m lucky that I have three projects that I know I’ll enjoy working on and that two of them stand a chance of making decent sales.
What it boils down to is the market. And right now, paranormal romance and urban fantasy are still selling, but they aren’t selling well, and what’s out there is, for the most part, from established authors.
It’s a bit defeatist to look at the situation that way, and if I dwell on it for too long, it depresses me. The market will shift, because that’s how it rolls, and someday we’ll see less contemporary and erotic romance and more paranormal and urban fantasy. Maybe that day will be soon. Maybe it’ll be soon enough that I can submit that project and watch my sales climb.
I’m choosing to view it as a practical decision. I honestly think I have a better shot at increasing sales with one of the other two projects. I have books published in both genres. Releasing one of those will, in theory, drive readers to my backlist. PNR and UF readers have some overlap with other sub-genres, but there is also a significant contingent readers who don’t cross over, or who do so with less frequency.
As a business plan, this won’t work for everyone. But bottom line: sometimes you have to go with the money rather than the want, and hope the want will still be around when you can afford to work on it.