How does someone know when to turn off the creative juices? Assuming, of course, such a thing is even possible. Is there a moment in time when you just say, “I’m done” or, “I’ve got nothing else to say”?
Having recently reached the twenty-year milestone in my career, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Given how late I started my life as a published author, I’m grateful for the many years I’ve had. And, based on contracts already signed, I know I’m not going anywhere at least through 2017 and most of 2018.
This year I’ll reach another milestone...twenty-five published romances (as I said, late bloomer, slow starter, etc.). That silly, but coveted, pin from Romance Writers of America will be mine.
So, again, I ask ... is it possible to turn off creativity? Or, will my head be plagued with plots and twists and the search for the perfect HEA long after I’ve traded my computer for a Kindle loaded with large print editions?
The publishing industry is not what it used to be. In some ways it’s better. In others, not so much. Finding a home for your work, especially if you’re already ensconced with a publisher, is not difficult. Self-publishing has now become a healthy portion of the market. However, making money is getting harder than it used to be. There are only so many readers with only so many dollars to spend. And at least 100 times more authors vying for those same dollars than when I began.
Promotional expenses have skyrocketed as well. Twenty years ago an author’s biggest expense was printing and mailing (yes, mailing) out a newsletter. Now, it’s Facebook party giveaways, blog tours, and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of swag.
My first instinct is to pare down. Instead of writing for four publishers, choose two. Instead of checking out each and every submission call, concentrate on the genres that I enjoy writing the most. Put all my energy and focus into making these last few years more about quality than quantity.
When I retired from the outside world at the end of 2013, I paced myself for the year prior. I looked forward to making those last few months count and partied like a crazy woman at my retirement luncheon. Yet somehow, I think, retiring from this strange but wonderful career known as “romance author” won’t be nearly as easy.
In 2013, I published five books, in 2014 another four. In 2015 it was five again and then last year I managed four. (I think I’m seeing a pattern here.) With four books already scheduled/contracted for 2017, I believe now is as good a time as any to start planning for a second retirement.
While all you beginners, or mid-career authors, are (hopefully) setting goals and outlining strategic plans, I’ll be re-defining what I want to write and for whom. My goal as it stands now is to wrap it all up at 30 (another RWA pin!) and then sit back and relax.
However, writing is an addiction and I’m just not sure I can stop!
I’d love to hear from other authors. How long do you plan to write? How easy do you think it will be to retire?
Until my next visit to the blog, remember to be good to yourself...whether it’s writing that perfect book or reading it!