Books of a Certain Length

Author’s Note: This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Thinking about yesterday’s post about the rise of YA fiction as a force majeure in the SF&F publishing world, it wasn’t far for me to start thinking about book length.  Also, to be entirely honest, Dear Wife suggested both topics.  I’ll also note: this is a very meaty (i.e. wordy) and at times contentious topic.  For that reason, I am going to do something I rarely ever do on my blog: I’m implementing sectional subtitles.  Why?  Because this turned out to be a real, long, in-depth, even semi-scholarly article on the topic of wordcount length, with quite a bit of data and market analysis.  Your conclusions will be your own, but I’ve tried to synthesize a lot of information for this article.  I considered splitting the article into several posts, as I often do when a single post grows this long, but I felt that it would weaken the analysis to have the disparate elements separated onto different pages.  So, instead: one long post with sectional subtitles.  Finally, you’ll find I prefer the compound word “wordcount” as opposed to splitting the word into two: “word count”, which is the more common usage.  The reason for this is that when I refer to “wordcount” I’m referring to a single, distinct idea: that is, the total number of words in a manuscript.  Splitting the word into two diffuses this unified notion. 

~

Books of a Certain Length

If you look around on the internet, it won’t be hard to come up with some solid advice for how long your book should be – depending on which genre and market you are writing for.  I encountered advice on the issue in this post on the Magical Words blog – where you’ll find me entering the fray in the comments.  There’s also this post on The Swivet.  I won’t quote all the genre length guidelines these two posts suggest (which are mostly in accord).  But if you’re either a fan of meaty Epic Fantasies or books like the Harry Potter series, and write in anything approaching a similar vein and genre, you might find some of these guidelines a trifle… strange.  Epic Fantasy is given a high-end wordcount length suggestion of around 120,000 words.  For YA it is suggested you stay under 80,000 words with some flexibility up to 100,000 in special circumstances.

For those of you unfamiliar with relative wordcount lengths, you may consider that and say to yourself: “Okay, so, what’s the big deal?”

The Challenge of a Verbose Writer

Let me first start by offering this full disclosure: my writing style tends toward the robustly wordful.  For example, I’ve participated in several “Flash Fiction” challenges during the history of this blog (with most results posted  here) with the goal of turning out a super-short story under 1,000 words in length.  I rarely reached that goal.  My first attempt at a novel, “Project SOA”, had reached the two-thirds complete mark at approximately 140,000 words before I abandoned that version of the story.  I’m planning on my current novel project, “The Book of M”, to be about 125,000 words… but I fully expect it to be closer to 175,000 (based on my experience of planned length versus actual final length for other, shorter works).

Of course, I’m no professional, as yet. Continue reading

Great Minds Think Alike, They Say: A Poll

It’s true.  Great ideas aren’t that uncommon, and it’s not infrequent that many people will approach the same great idea and take it in different directions.  And that’s a good thing, as great ideas are like Legos: they can build on each other.

But, I think, there may also be a caveat to this wonderful exchange.  In the marketplace of ideas and story seeds and plots, there can come a point in the life-cycle of a given idea that it becomes an “already-done”: where in the collective mind of the story-consuming public that idea has already had its fullest expression in a prior work of art or fiction, and any later work that starts from the same point is classified as a “copy-cat” work.  Even if that later work adds something new, different, or substantive – something unexplored by prior works – if it starts from the point of an “already-done” idea, I suspect it may never gain a significant audience.  Over time, the collective memory of the “already-done” may wane, but is the memory of the book and art-consuming public not a long one?  I’m not sure.

To some extent, this question is the pervading problem of epic fantasy, in general.  Every epic fantasy written in the last forty years lies in the shadow of Tolkien‘s “Lord of the Rings“, and incorporating any of the same ideas is considered cliché, passé, or even taboo.  I have read many times that there is nothing – full stop – that you can do, say, or write about Elves, Dwarves, or Orcs (and to a lesser degree Wizards and Dark Lords) that will add anything new or original or interesting to the general fantasy framework Tolkien laid out.

It doesn’t matter whether that’s true or not.  Enough influential voices within the halls of speculative fiction creatordom and fandom believe it to be true that we’ll get relatively few opportunities to test that hypothesis.

Which leads me to the subject of today’s poll.  It is for the above-stated reasons that over the past few days I’ve become concerned about the future publication prospects of my most recently completed novelette, “PFTETD”.  Continue reading

Writing Quote: Eat Its Head Off

It’s that time of week, again: time for another dose of Writing Quotes.  I’ve quoted Isaac Asimov here, before, so I won’t belabor you with his biography or lists of accomplishments.  I’ll let the link to his previous quote do that.  So, what does Uncle Isaac have to tell us today?

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.

~Isaac Asimov

It’s an important lesson for we writers.  We hear it time and time again, and yet it bears repeating, if getting published is our goal.  I, myself, am planning soon (as soon as I get a little time to address a large manila envelope) to send out that story I wrote.  And, when I have time again, I’ll be spending a little time working on a first (and very rough) draft of my next story (or two… I’m contemplating taking some of my old Friday Flash/Author Aerobics stories here and fleshing them out a bit).  It’s sloooooooooooooowwww going for me.  But that’s to be expected, under the circumstances.

Mostly, though, I picked this quote not because it’s such good advice (it is, but that’s not why I picked it).  Mostly, I picked it because I loved the metaphor embedded in this one: “never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer”.  Fantastic.

Happy Writing.

Cohort!

I’ve followed the autobiographical story of author Tobias Buckell’s breaking-in to the novel writing world with great interest.  And since reading his latest installment, “The Value of Friends“, I’ve been thinking about the idea of my “cohort” of fellow speculative-fiction writers.

A “cohort” of writers, as suggested in Tobias Buckell’s piece, are a group of writers who are familiar with each other and who break-in to the industry roughly as a group.  They are writing contemporaries.  As mentioned in his article, the cohort is a supportive community who help each other and encourage each other.  There’s no formal delineation.  It’s a pretty ad-hoc organization. Continue reading

The Blog of the Future

I mentioned in a quick post on Monday that I would explain some of the changes I’m hoping to make over time around here (there’s a poll there, too, to gauge your thoughts on the appearance of the blog).  I’d added an RSS Feed to a secondary blog that I “started” a while ago in my own name as well as a feed of the Twitterfied version of this blog (along with a link to my Twitter account).  The problem I cited on Monday was that I suspect this tends to clutter up the appearance of my sidebar.

But let me explain what I’m trying to accomplish, here. In about a week, I will have packaged up that 12,000-ish word short story I’ve been working for the past six or seven months and submitted it to a publisher for consideration. From where I stand now, it’s very difficult to gauge what are my chances of making a positive impression on an editor. I’ve tried to make my cover letter very clean and professional. I polished this story until it was as good as I think I can make it in the absence of professional editing. I’ve done what I can with this story, and once it’s in the mail, it’s out of my hands, and I don’t know what will happen. But, keeping a long-term perspective, I’m very optimistic that over time my efforts at improving my writing will produce positive results. In time, then, I believe I will be a published author. But what then?

Well, then, if I do get published, the name and premise of this blog will be false. I won’t really be an “undiscovered” author. I’ll be a published one. (Although, relatively speaking, even then I may still be a tad “undiscovered”, but that’s mincing words.) When that day comes, and people actually start looking for me online, what do I want them to see? Do I want them to first see this blog, dedicated to the story of a guy who’s never been published? Or one with my name on it? One that tells about a guy who has been published?

But, if I only start to blog on a separate, eponymous blog after I’ve been published, it may be too late. (And after hearing so much positive feedback from you guys, I feel more comfortable about the idea of using my own name as my pen name, as well, so I feel that the title of my newer blog is, in fact, appropriate.) So, my long-term goal is to shift my blogging over to that secondary blog. But in the meantime, I don’t want to abandon the readership, such as it is, that I have over here on this “Undiscovered Author” blog. Nor, for that matter, do I want to phase this blog out altogether. Long after I’ve been published (assuming, for arguments’ sake, that this eventually does, in fact, come to pass) I can foresee potential uses for this blog. I think it will be a fun compliment to a more “Stephen Watkins”-focused platform. But that’s a problem for another day.

So, to get me started working toward that master-plan, I thought a good place to begin would be to link to that blog here. Right now, of course, there’s only the one post there. After a little wiggle-room in my schedule opens up (and I’m able to put an end to my hiatus days) I intend to start posting there at least once a week. In the closer term, I’m going to try to play house-keeping there and get it cleaned up and ready for presentation (you know: writing up my “About” page over there, setting up my “Categories”, adding a few additional pages, and possibly mirroring a few things that are currently here on “The Undiscovered Author”).

This is a process, and it won’t be done overnight. Admittedly, I picked a bad time to start work on this project: with life still being generally slammed for time, and feeling like I barely have breathing room to blog here, even with my self-imposed hiatus breaks at least twice a week. And that’s why you aren’t going to see changes and updates there overnight. Basically, the linking to that blog from here was just an opening salvo, but there won’t be an immediate follow-up salvo until I get a moment. In the short-term, I have a few other priorities to attend to. But I hope you all will bear with me as I map out these changes.

And, in the meantime, why don’t you drop me a line and let me know what you think about it all!

Go Big or Go Home?

On Blockbuster Books, Pseudonyms, and Platforms

A couple weeks ago, in David Farland’s Daily Kick, he suggested something that I thought was provocative, with regards to the careers of new writers. He basically suggests that, unless a new writer can launch their first novel in a big way, his or her career will not last.

As a result of [a lot of changes to the book industry], it has become imperative that an author “launch big.” You need to sell your first book in hardcover. You need to write a book that is aimed at the market, that takes current tastes in literature into account, and that more than satisfies your publisher’s expectations. Indeed, we’re seeing more and more publishers launching first-time authors as best-sellers.
~David Farland

My reaction was: really? Really, that’s the only way? I’ll concede that we’ve reach a post “long-tail” reality. But to suggest that our only hope is to go big or go home, to my mind, is not so much encouragement as, well, the opposite of encouragement. (It’s called discouragement.) Because most of us who write, as it is, are unlikely to win a publishing contract for our books. Few enough of those will ever succeed at the “go big or go home” strategy.

He goes on to say something more that makes me a little suspicious, though:

Typically, the publisher will pay anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000 for a novel that they intend to launch big, and they’ll offer to launch it in hardcover.

I don’t know about the offer to launch in hardcover, but those advances are way out of whack with statistical evidence on the issue of first advances.  Author Tobias Buckell’s survey may not precisely be scientific, but it does show that the frequency of very high (6-digit) advances is very rare with respect to the population of writers as a whole (out of 108 speculative fiction authors who took his survey, he doesn’t find a single 6-figure advance for first-time novels, suggesting that the real likelihood of that eventuality is significantly less than 1%).

So, I’m not so sure about the validity of Farland’s claims on this question. Certainly, many of us dream of striking it big, just so, but, at least at present, there still seems to be plenty of room on the “midlists”.

Farland later suggests that if we fail to achieve this blockbuster opener on our first novel, that all is not lost:

So your only option is to take your money and—quite probably—start over. Write another potential blockbuster under another name. Do it enough, and eventually you’ll get the push that you deserve.

This got me thinking about the topic of pseudonyms. It sounds like Farland is suggesting an ever-revolving door of pseudonyms until we find a novel that sticks in the blockbuster status. This made me reflect back to an interview author Jim C. Hines did with a writer who’s basically doing just that.  This made me wonder about the role of pseudonyms in an author’s career, especially as concerns myself, personally.  I write this blog under my real name, and I’ve commented before that I have a rather common name.  And I’ve wondered whether that will present a challenge for me in the future, when I try in earnest to break in.  So, I’ve considered the possibility of a pseudonym… And I’ve come full circle.

Several years ago, I was already considering this issue, and had picked out for myself a pseudonym.  But I was struggling with the issue.  Then, one friend asked why, rather than agonize over what to use as a pseudonym, why don’t I just use my real name.  That question rekindled in me the pride I had in my name.  Since then, I’d planned to use my real name as my writing name… and so that’s what you see here on this blog.

But when I consider the challenges inherent in trying to brand myself while using so common a name, I am forced to consider that a pseudonym might be a necessary tool in my writing arsenal.  (Though, in a bit of irony, the pseudonym I had picked out for myself turns out to be uncomfortably close to the name of another, established science fiction author.  So, back to the drawing board, as it were.)  And now I’m back to considering: if I must have a pseudonym, what will it be?

And if I do have a pseudonym, can I keep it open?  By that, I mean, must I necessarily keep it a secret (as the writer Benjamin Tate, the one interviewed by Jim Hines, is doing)?  Or can it be a known fact that “Mr. Nom-de-plume” is, in fact, me.  I wonder about this because, it seems to me, building an audience – and a platform – is no easy feat.  And to have to start from scratch every time I have to take a “new” name seems to me to be a terrible waste of the potential resource of an existing fan-base.  If you have a few fans, wouldn’t it be better to transfer that fandom to your new name?  And wouldn’t the easiest and cleanest way to do that be to say to them: “Hey, if you like my stuff, you might want to check out the stuff written as ‘Author X’ – my new nom-de-plume!”

Then, related to this, is another article I read, recently, on the subject of self-promotion, on the Writer’s Beware blog, which asks the question: can you start self-promoting and building your “platform” too soon?  That particular article suggests that, perhaps, starting to build your network and platform several years before the launch of your novel is, just maybe, too soon.  Which gave me pause.  At this time in my “career” I’m intending on focusing on short stories, because I know I don’t have time to devote to novel writing.  Consequently, I know it will be several years before I even finish writing a full novel draft.  Then, shopping it around, waiting for responses, and doing all the rest will mean years more before I’ll be a published novelist.

Have I started this blog too soon?  Do I stand something to lose by blogging now, when all I have to show for myself are a handful of mediocre-quality short stories?  Will potential readers happen upon me and, finding nothing exciting, give a collective “meh“, and move on with their lives?  It’s a legitimate question, and one that has me thinking.

Ultimately, though, I feel alright about this.  I’ve started this journey.  Heck, I started this journey years ago, long before the idea for this blog, or any other blog, entered into my mind.  And now that I’m here, I’m here.  And I’m going to keep going, trudging onward in the direction of my dream.

Happy writing.

A Shout Out

So, I’ve been adding plenty of new Author links over on the right sidebar.  I’ve become an avid collector of links to authors’ websites.  But I wanted to call special attention to a link I added on Friday last week.  The link is to Slushlush.com, and it’s the site of Erin M. Evans.

Years ago, I posted the prior draft of my ever-in-progress novel (insert reference to blathering here) up on a fantasy and science-fiction art website called Elfwood.  (The eight-ish chapters and never-ending prologue that I posted are still there, for the adventurous, but they will not remain thus always; at some point I will have to bring them down.  Besides, this is an old version, and nothing like the final direction this novel will be taking, when I sit down to write it again, in earnest.  So it’s not a very good example of what I think I’m capable of.  Okay… I’m bringing this extended parenthetical aside to an end, now.)  Elfwood, obviously, also had a space for writers to post their work (although I do not advise doing so with anything you want to have published in the future; it’s not a terribly good place to get useful critiques, and posting there may constitute prior publication).  One writer there commented on the prologue and first chapter of my novel.  Her comments were insightful, if sometimes difficult to accept.

We entered into a brief period of correspondence in which we did more detailed analyses and critiques of each other work.  We only got through the first couple chapters of each of our books before life and general busyness got in the way on both ends.  Either way, the critiques I got on those first couple chapters were really important.  It eventually became clear to me that I would never sell that manuscript, in its current form.

So, late last week I was idly googling myself, and after digging far and deep into Google’s listings, I found a link to one of my old chapters up on Elfwood.  I followed it, because apparently I’m a narcissist.  (Note: I don’t think I’m actually a narcissist.)  On that Elfwood page, I saw one of Erin’s comments, and remembered our brief exchange of critiques.  I noticed she didn’t have an Elfwood page anymore.  So, I googled  her name.

And discovered this: http://www.amazon.com/Erin-M.-Evans/e/B0032OJT1C

I dug up the old e-mail I had from her, asked if it was hers, and indeed it was.  So, wow.  How cool is that?  I kind of, sort of, but not really know a published author.  I got her regular site and posted a link here.  But I also want to encourage you readers to check out both her site and her work.  The books on her Amazon page are tie-in novels, so if you have any interest in the D&D “Forgotten Realms” setting, I imagine these will be wonderful reads. 

But what I really hope is that she’s successful enough with these tie-in novels that she’ll eventually make enough of a name for herself that she’ll get some of her original work (i.e. all stuff she made up herself, instead of writing a story set in a world someone else made up) published, as well.  Frankly, I think that would be really cool.  (Plus, she had some unique stuff that was not just bog-standard fantasy, as I recall, and the years can only have made her work even better.)

So, encouraging my few readers here to go check out her work is really the least I can do for the useful critiques she handed my work back several years ago.

Happy reading!

Beat to the Punch

Regular readers may recall a few weeks ago this post, in which I go on about a possible “successor model” to the way publishing is done today.  Well, a friend from class clued me in late last week to this:

http://springwise.com/media_publishing/tenpages/

I’ll give you a minute to go check that link out.  Okay.  Done, now?

So, for those of you who didn’t click the link, here’s the gist: Dutch website “Tenpages.com” has created a partnership with several publishers (presumably Dutch ones) in a venture that allows the users of the site (who act as investors on a virtual market) to decide which books sourced through the site will get published by buying “stock” in that book.

Sound familiar?  If you were here a few weeks ago when I posted about my “Novel Venture” concept, you might be thinking “yeah, that does sound familiar”.  The ingenuity of this site, it turns out, is that, well, it’s a website, and takes that whole “building up a community of investors” problem out of the “Novel Venture” concept I proposed by establishing a virtual place for that community to gather.   Frankly, though, I’m surprised that someone else (albeit in Holland) had almost the same idea, and is actually finding a way to make it work.  I was ambivalent enough about the chances of my idea proving successful that I wasn’t sure anyone would ever try it, so imagine my surprise to learn that someone already has.

The biggest drawback that I see to this site, however, is that it offers writers and investors only a 10% royalty/share of profits each.  In normal publishing contracts, the writer gets roughly a 20% royalty rate (actual rates vary, but 20% seems about average), so a 10% rate is pretty low.  In other words, this is only going to attract brand new, unproven authors.  And those authors, if they grow successful, are going to want to renegotiate their contracts.

From the investor’s perspective, the 10% rate is also too low.  These are the people putting up the seed money to get the venture started.  Although, to really analyze whether that share is really too low or high, I suppose, the amount of the seed money will need to be compared to the amount the publisher is kicking in.  The investors need to be justly compensated for the degree of risk they’re taking on, and it matters which party is bearing the majority of that risk.

Overall, I think the idea is a very intriguing concept.  I wonder if it can work here in the States.  And I wonder how long it will take someone here to try.  I think the idea has to work a few kinks out if it’s going to prove successful: the amount of seed capital needed to get a book off the ground and get a publisher on board, the royalty and returns offered to writers and investors, etc. will all need to be fine-tuned.

Thoughts, dear readers?

Writing Quote: The Rules of Writing

There have been a lot of posts on various writing blogs of late discussing the 10 Rules of writing.  It’s almost become a meme.  In light of that, I found this quote by a writer from the 1930s to be very interesting.  This popular and successful writer, who has had many of his books and stories adapted into film, suggests that, in fact, there are only 3 rules of writing.  Here’s what he has to say:

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

~W. Somerset Maugham

Interesting.  Those are, I’m sure, rules to live by.

Actually, this quote gets to the heart of what I’ve been thinking about all the rules of writing lists.  Some of them sound like sound advice.  Some of the sound like bad advice.  Some simply aren’t relevant in certain areas or genres of writing.  It’s usually a good idea to heed the words of a published author if you wish to tread in those same footsteps.  But you also need to tread lightly and carefully, because the path that led another writer to success will not always lead again to the same destination.

Happy writing.

Breaking In (Part 5): My Plan

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little analysis of what I think it takes to get published.  I can’t stress enough, though, that everything I’ve written on the subject comes from the point of view of someone who has yet to be published.  But I’ve read a lot on the subject, including much from writers who already are published, though I realize you’ve got to take it all with a grain of salt.

I wanted to wrap this miniseries up by sharing my own personal plans for Breaking In.  There’s no guarantee my plan will work, or that I know what I’m talking about.  But this is roughly how I plan to pursue my goal of getting published.

The first part of my plan is what I’m not going to do.  Realistically, I don’t have the free time or the money to take part in many writer’s conferences, seminars or workshops.  There is a big, annual Fantasy and Science Fiction convention held in my city which I may attend next year, in 2011, but which I more than likely will not be attending this year – not with a new baby and with MBA career-planning in coming into full swing.  It’s not that I discount the value of being able to mingle with other writers or having the opportunity to attend panel discussions with published writers and editors or to chat with editors and start spreading your name or building your network.  I think those things are potentially very valuable, and I encourage other aspiring writers to attend those where possible.  But for me, it’s just not feasible.  I’m still knee deep in my MBA, I’ll soon have a new baby, and my day-job isn’t getting any easier.  With all of those factors, I can afford neither the time nor the money.  So, I’ll have to do this a different way.

So, I’m hopeful both that I was right about short story markets being one place acquiring editors for novel publishers look for new talent and that I’m good enough to break into the short story market.  You’ll note that I only wrote one article on breaking into short stories; I realize there’s a lot I probably don’t know.  But, my intent is to try to get a few short stories published over the next few years (and accelerate my rate of publication over time).  During this time, I’ll be working on the side on a novel project as well.  That novel project may not be the long-gestating project I occasionally blather about (a quick usage note: whenever you see me use the word “blather”, I”m almost always talking about the same novel project… it’s a quirk, I guess).  Realistically, though, even if I choose to start developing, writing, and shopping a different project first, I’ll always still be working on my original novel project on the side as well.  (I’ve read that successful writers have to be ruthless and able to kill their babies – no, not their human babies; their writing babies – but my particular baby has evolved so much over the course of its “life” that it can hardly be said to be the same juvenile thing I started with.  I suspect, though this is as yet unproven of course, that writers can also be successful if they’re willing to evolve and improve their babies rather than giving up on them.)

So, stage one of breaking in to the novel market involves breaking in to the short story market.  Keep in mind, again, that in both instances I mean the Fantasy & Science Fiction genre equivalent of those markets.  Personally I have very little interest in most mainstream fiction that doesn’t have some element of fantasy or sci-fi, with a few exceptions.  Still, I suspect the process is largely the same in mainstream markets.

To break into the Short Story market, therefore, I will be following a few guidelines as well.  First: I will write my best.  That’s a given, perhaps, but it’s imperative.  That means letting my stories rest and get away from them for a little while so I can review them with fresher eyes later.  That means hopefully getting critical feedback from a number of different readers.  The quantity and quality of that feedback are somewhat out of my control, and I’m reluctant to foist my work upon close friends not with the expectation that they enjoy it but that they will do a little work for me for free by giving me that feedback.  Here’s where writer’s groups come in handy – if participants are all engaged in this tit-for-tat process it feels less like getting free work out of someone and instead becomes like for like.  Therefore, at some point, most like after I’ve finished my MBA, I’ll put in a real effort to either locate and join an existing writer’s group or to start up one that works as an ongoing basis.

In the mean time, as soon as I’ve polished a story as much as I possibly can, I’ll begin submitting it to appropriate markets.  How I’ll choose markets will begin first by filtering for genre and tone.  More science-fictional stories will go to markets that publish more science fiction.  More fantastic stories will go to markets that publish more fantasy.  I’ll be starting near the top (based, admittedly, on my own criteria for what constitutes the top) and working my way down.  I’ll be taking into consideration the pay that a market offers as well as my own beliefs about the prestige of a given market.  (There are echoes of my Decision Modeling class here; I’ll have to develop a rigorous approach to how I evaluate “prestige”; I like the approach suggested in this post (and linked word doc) by Tobias Buckell in which he mentions he built a spreadsheet model to rank order which markets he’d submit to, first.)  Tomorrow, I’ll go into more detail about why you should start at the top (or more to the point, and more accurately, why I believe I should start at the top, and why I will be).

So, that’s my plan.  I’m going to try to get some short stories published.  I’m starting with the one I’ve been working on recently.  I have a few more I want to write and a few more that are waiting a new, revised treatment.  Once I start submitting – choosing higher-tiered markets first – I wait for the acceptance or rejection (and start working on the next story, of course).  If I get accepted, Congratulations-to-me, I’ve achieved stage one of my plan.  If not, then I move on to the next market.  At some point during this process, I join and actively participate in a writer’s group.  I repeat this process as often as necessary until I have a dozen or more short stories in pro markets to my name.  At that point, just maybe, I’ll be far enough in my career to start shopping a novel around.  So the goal then will be to finish a novel.

Hope you’ve enjoyed following me on this little journey.  Happy writing!

Back to Part 4: What’s in a Name?

Continue to Part 6 (the final installment): From the Top