Writer’s Corner: Launching a writing career

Writer’s Corner

Some beginning writers may have delusions of overnight success, but any seasoned writer will tell you that it usually doesn’t happen that way. There are instances where it has, of course, but in most cases, launching a career in writing requires time, money and a lot of hard work to be successful. Writers who have realistic expectations may start out writing part time and get a solid book marketing plan under them, through trial and error and lots of A/B testing to figure out what works and what doesn’t, before trying to take their writing career to a full-time level.

I’ve been working to get my writing career off the ground for over a decade, but I’m a D.I.Y. girl and most things that I try to do, I started out doing things backward. I started my writing career right here, on Writing to be Read in 2009. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to write, but write I did. In 2012, when I didn’t have the huge following I had hoped for and undertaking a book length work seemed an insermountable hurdle, I decided I needed some help, so I enrolled in the graduate program at Western State Colorado University and by 2016, I had my M.F.A. in Creative Writing with a dual emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting.

The Six Figure Authors Podcast offers the general advice for aspiring writers to pick a genre you’ve had some success with and stick with it until you are firmly established. Then if you feel the need to cross genres, you can probably venture into a new territory without risking everything. Because that’s what you’re doing when you cross over to a genre other than the one in which you already have established a fan base.

But here I am. To date, I have published a Western, Delilah; a collection of short stories, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, which is a mish-mash of genres: time-travel, vampire, origins, satire, etc…; and a paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. I also have published a number of short stories. My flash fiction horror story, “The Haunting of Carol’s Woods”, is featured in Dan Alatorre’s Nightmareland, and my futuristic science fiction story, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, and my crime fiction love story, “The Devil Made Her Do It”, are each featured in The Collapsar Directive and Relationship Add Vice anthologies respectively, both published by Zombie Pirate Publishing, as well as a paranormal story in each of the three WordCrafter paranormal anthologies, Whispers of the Past, Spirits of the West, and our newest release, Where Spirits Linger. I even have published a nonfiction author’s reference, Ask the Authors, which arose from a blog series I ran right here on Writing to be Read.

I am ecclectic in my tastes, including music and reading, and thus the stories that percolate in my brain are also rather ecclectic. I don’t listen or read in any one genre. Why would I think up stories in only one? I don’t think I could write to market and be successful. And I’ve tried the writer for hire thing, too, but didn’t care for it. No one is saying you can’t be successful as a multi-genre author, but what all of this means is that my books are more difficult to market, because my target audience are splintered into multiple reader groups, so I have to be more creative in reaching an audience who will actually read what I write. And I have to research and know what I’m doing, because book marketing and advertising can get expensive, especially if you do all the A/B testing and stuff that you they say we need to do. Since it’s not feasible for me to stick with only one genre, I think figuring out how to attract readers for each of the genres that I write from a wider audience will be my biggest challenge.

I’m an author who listens to my characters and let’s the story unfold naturally. (I’m not really a pantser, although at one time I thought that I was. Now I find that I need to have a general idea of where my story is going and how it gets there, and a basic outline does that for me.) But the stories don’t all unfold in a single genre, and so I’ve become a multi-genre author, although that probably isn’t the fastest way to build a full-time writing career.

Readers here, followers of this blog, are the fan base that I have built over twelve years of blogging and I appreciate your support, in whatever fashion you choose to demonstrate it. I’m not sure what genre any of you read, or if any of you actually read my books, but you pop over and read my posts, regardless of the subject matter, and occasionally, some of you even comment. I really do appreciate that.

As you can see, I’m the kind of gal who decides what I want to do and plunges ahead, learning as I go. I’ve reached a point in my life where I not only want to write full-time, but I need to be a full-time writer. My love for the written word can be seen in everything I do. In addition to this blog, I’ve reported on local writing communities, attended and participated in writing fairs and conferences, hosted online writing events, created my own small press, and gone into student debt in order to become an expert on my craft. For me, writing truly is a passion and I need to do this as a career for my own mental health and well-being. In order to do that, I need to make some changes.

But, I write for the love of writing. It’s the reason that I put so much energy into this blog. I write to be read, and I’ve not monetized my blog, although I have recently had inquiries for advertising. I’ll need to research more before I make a decision on that front, but I don’t really want to monetize Writing to be Read. I like what I’ve built this site into, with the help of my wonderful Writing to be Read team members: Robbie Cheadle, Art Rosch and Jeff Bowles. I’m afraid if I monetize it, it will become something different, and perhaps unintended. I don’t want that.

That’s why I’m only making one small addition on this site and leaving the rest as is, to develop naturally into what it will become. I’m developing a plan that I can follow to transition into a full-time writer and continue this very slow launch of a writing career. I’ll keep you apprised of other upcoming changes, but for now, the only change here is a new “Buy me a tasty beverage” button in the sites top right-hand corner, where you can make a donation if you should choose to show your support for Writing to be Read in this manner.

If you do make a donation, know that it will be greatly appreciated. I’m glad that you enjoy the content here or find it helpful. Thank you all for being my readers.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you. She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); and Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”). Her western, Delilah, her paranormal mystery novella and her short story collection, Last Call, are all available in both digital and print editions.

On her authors’ blog, Writing to be Read, she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She’s also the founder of WordCrafter. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. When not writing or editing, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

WordCrafter: https://kayebooth.wixsite.com/wordcrafter

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Writer’s Corner: The Craft of Short Fiction

I’ve recently been working on two different anthologies for my classes, as well as planning two, or possibly three different anthologies, that I want to put out through WordCrafter Press next year, so it’s not surprising that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the writing of short fiction. While writing short fiction presents many of the same challenges as writing book length fiction presents, such as avoiding passive voice, using the correct tense and the right POV, and avoiding repetitive language, it also seems to present challenges for the writer, which are more prominent and more noticable in a short story.

Below is a list of what I see as the top four challenges of writing short fiction. A short story in which these challenges are met and mastered can be a delight to read, but when the writer misses the mark or doesn’t tackle these challenges skillfully, the result can be a story that doesn’t feel complete, leaving readers feeling unsatisfied.

Top 4 Challenges in Short Fiction and How to Handle Them

  1. Abrupt ending: I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read recently that start out wonderfully, promising a killer story all the way to the end and then drop the ball, leaving me wondering where the story went wrong. I think many times authors are at a loss as to how to wrap things up, and with short fiction, where word counts must be taken into consideration, they try to end too quickly, instead of taking a little more time to tie up the details of the story. – To avoid this, take the time you need to wrap things up in your story in a way that will be satisfying to the reader who has stuck with you this far. If you can’t give your story a satisfying ending within the required word count, perhaps it should become a longer work, because there is nothing more frustrating than to read an engaging story that you are really into, only to be disappointed at the end, so this is a biggie.
  2. Shallow, underdeveloped characters: In short fiction, you have a limited space in which to introduce your characters and make your reader care about what happens to them, so it is important to come out of the gate with a good strong voice that grabs the reader’s attention at the very beginning and continue with that all the way through. Making your characters interesting is something you need to do with fiction of any length, but with short fiction, you need a strong voice to bring character traits to the forefront in a succint way. Passive voice in a short story can result in a lack of interest in the reader, causing them to put the story down without taking time to get to know your characters or get into the story.
  3. Head hopping: This is always a problem when it occurs in any length work of fiction, because it tends to pull readers out of the story when they realize that the viewpoint they thought they were in, is really that of a different character. Short fiction isn’t really long enough to use multiple POVs, so it’s difficult to figure out how this even happens, but it does. The author needs to pay close attention to who the narrator is and be sure to not wander into the view point of a different character.
  4. Excessive wording: It’s important to realize that a short story is just that – short. Don’t waste space with unnecessary wording that isn’t needed. Write succintly. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. While it’s important to paint a vivid visual image for the reader, don’t include details which are not relevant to the story in some way. World building, character development, and plot must all come together in a short amount of space, so choose your words carefully.

I love a well-written short story, and I read a lot of short fiction. When it’s done right, a short story can be every bit as engaging as a good novel. Don’t you think?

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