I'm swaying in the wind right now, somewhere in between the extremes of being strategic about publishing decisions and simply having fun with writing mystery stories.
There's a good balance somewhere in there, but finding the perfect personal balance is a bit like standing on the head of a needle. It's far too easy to fall to one side or the other.
One of my New Year's Resolutions was to keep writing fun. My goal of publishing at the present time isn't to strategically optimize sales. Otherwise I probably would have continued on my traditional publishing trajectory that I was on before I received my breast cancer diagnosis, or have come up with a super-strategic self-publishing plan. Instead, one of my biggest 2012 goals was to celebrate the end of my cancer treatments in August with holding my first mystery novel, Artifact, in my hands, and celebrating with good friends.
But...Somewhere along the way of following the steps to publish a good quality end product, I began to think more strategically.
I knew after working with an editor that I should produce Advance Reader Copies four months before the book's release date if I wanted any chance of garnering advance reviews. And I knew that meant also creating ARCs in a specific industry-standard way. Then there's the endless amount of possible publicity....
But hang on a minute! Didn't I decide to do this to have fun? I took this path because I wanted to share the mysterious adventures of treasure-hunting historian Jaya Jones, her magician best friend Sanjay (aka The Hindi Houdini), and all the other characters that won't stop rattling around in my head. I don't want to go online for the purpose of selling books. I want to enjoy interacting with other writers and readers. If I gain some readers, then that's great. But I'm not happy when I'm in the mental space of being overly strategic about my actions. You could probably count the number of times on one hand that I've used a hashtag on Twitter. I don't think like that when I'm chatting on Twitter. Nor do I want to.
But I need to do something, right? Because otherwise I might as well be writing my stories in my little Bay window only for myself. I'm sure I'd still write stories in a journal even if nobody else would ever see them. But that's not what I'm doing. I'm drafting, writing, revising, writing, revising, getting critiqued, attending workshops, writing, revising, getting edited, revising, revising some more, proofreading, laying out the text, proofreading, revising, proofreading....
So yes, I'd like my mysteries to find an audience. And I'd like to make enough money from them to finance my travels to research further books (it's the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series, after all, each story going from San Francisco to some foreign destination to solve a mystery and track down a treasure).
Therefore I've got a binder of research notes where I'm keeping track of ideas about how to do a good job publishing to find an audience. I'll do the leg work, but then I try not to take myself too seriously.
This week I'm proofreading my ARCs before they go to press. I can't quite convince myself to stop fiddling. I need to step back, take a deep breath, and remember this is amazingly fun. Because it is.