When writing becomes a business

Remember when you were young and you did whatever you wanted and that was okay? You didn’t have a care in the world and took life one day at a time, searching for fun and doing as you pleased. Then, one day, you grew a little older and realised that at the same time you were growing up, and if you wanted to make something of yourself, you had to cast aside your Devil may care attitude and don one of responsibility instead… you had to approach things differently because now everything mattered.

I’ve been writing since 2005, back when I was e-published, and became an indie romance author in 2006, and since then I haven’t ever thought about writing as a business. To me it was a bit of fun and I wrote whatever I wanted and did as I pleased, much like a kid, without any thought about what type of story sold and where my career was heading. I was the rebellious youth without a care in the world, content with writing whatever came to me and if it sold, then that was great, fantastic in fact considering the poor e-book market prior to 2010. Back then, I never believed writers when they said it was all about market research and what books were popular, and writing for that market. I wanted to write whatever I felt like writing, so I did. I paid no attention to the market, but I guess it helped that I love vampires and decided to write them, and also seemed to end up writing stories quite different to the rest out there, gaining myself a bit of a following.

Just like a reckless youth, I have finally found myself growing up. Late last year, after talking to my husband about it and seeing my sales increasing and my readership increasing with it, I decided to take the plunge and say goodbye to my full-time job. Originally I was going to spend a few months a year contracting because that brings in enough money to keep me afloat, but I’ve been able to go from March 2011 until now living comfortably on my book royalties. At the moment, I don’t have to contract, but I’m well aware that the tide is always turning and things rarely stay perfect, no matter how much we would like them to.

Anyway, the change in my life, the leap from the safety of having a full-time job to becoming a full-time writer instead, has been a catalyst for greater change. I think I’ve grown up and now I can understand all those authors who talk about keeping an eye on the market and what sells, and focusing on that. I’m not talking about writing for market, because I don’t think I can ever do that, but I’m talking about harnessing what I have that is selling well for me and focusing on that. It’s very strange for me to do this and it’s been a gradual process, a gentle evolution of my approach to writing, and it was only recently that I realised what had happened to me. Growing up is never easy though, but with my writing having become more than just a fun past time in a part time capacity and without the safety of my full-time job as a developer, I have to suck it up and deal with it. I can always contract, but I think I want to give this writing thing my all and really make something of it.

So I’ve been looking over my stories, and monitoring what books sell and what don’t do as well as those, and where my strengths lie right now. It’s been quite painful at times, because there’s still that rebellious part of me that wants to write whatever the heck she likes and get away with it. I guess I’m disappointed that books I thought would sell well aren’t doing that good. It’s great that other paranormal romances books of mine are doing fantastically though, and it just means that I have to be more fluid about the timings of new books in the series that aren’t doing as well. I guess that boils down to if it’s selling really well for me right now then the next book in that series is going to be shifted up the writing order, and if it’s not doing well, then it has to take a back seat.

At the moment, my strong series are Vampires Realm (which has always done well for me and deserves more attention) and the Her Angel series. I’m watching the sales figures for Vampire Venators to see if Forbidden Blood picks up speed. I have faith that it will as it’s vampire romance and quite unique. My real trouble maker is the Shadow & Light Trilogy. It’s not doing well and is selling far less than I expected for an urban fantasy type paranormal romance. I’m not sure whether it’s the decision to have a witch heroine coupled with a half-demon hero that has caused the low sales. It’s quite different from other books on the market because most of them include a vampire somewhere, or perhaps a shape-shifter.

I really want to continue with the Shadow & Light Trilogy, and have some fantastic ideas for the remaining two books and a little side-story with other characters, but I will have to drop it down the writing order along with Vampire Venators. It’s a shame really, but that’s the business of writing. I can’t put off writing the next Vampires Realm book or Her Angel book for the sake of writing a series that is floundering. It doesn’t make sense to do that, no matter how much I wanted to have the next book in the Shadow & Light trilogy out in early 2012. It doesn’t make financial sense, and it seems cruel to make readers wait for more in the two selling series so I can do as I please. If readers are eager for Vampires Realm and Her Angel, then I have to give them what they want. Of course, I don’t want to disappoint readers who are eager for more in the Shadow & Light Trilogy or Vampire Venators series either. It’s a double-edged sword really. I want to make everyone, including myself, happy… but some things have to give and my business head engages and tells me that you’ve got to write what’s hot while it’s hot.

This doesn’t mean you won’t get an instalment in the Shadow & Light Trilogy or Vampire Venators series next year, it just means that you’ll be waiting until I have Her Demonic Angel released and another Vampires Realm story out before you get them. Don’t worry, I can write fast enough to get them all out next year, I hope. It’s still a strange feeling for me to have and it tightens my stomach thinking about having to move books down the pecking order for the sake of playing the market. I guess I just have to go with readers and the votes they make with their wallets. If I have several hundred readers a month buying Vampires Realm and Her Angel books on Kindle and less than a hundred readers paying for Shadow & Light Trilogy, I have to go with the larger group. That sounds harsh even to me. lol. That’s business though, folks. Whether I like it or not, I have to grow up now and put on my serious face.

One thing I can promise though… you can expect at least five novels out of me next year!

About Felicity Heaton

I'm a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books as Felicity Heaton and F E Heaton. In my books I create detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, Larissa Ione, Kresley Cole, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will love my books too.

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