Currently, it's evening on Boxing Day, and I've more or less wrapped the final draft and proofing of the novel. The same goes for the cover art, too, more or less. With another project in the bag - and at least a few days before I'd pick up any kind of beta reading (because there's one project I'm expecting to beta for another author), I can get back to the business of writing.
What does that mean?
1. Basic outlining for the next projects. Some authors are pantsers (as in 'they fly by the seat of their pants' and 'make stuff up on the fly'), where others will need to plot and outline exactly how that work of fiction will go. I'm somewhere in the middle of those two extremes in that I do outline my work, but not so rigidly that I can't throw a little improvisation into the mix. This also leads into:
2. Basic research for the next projects. I'm a stickler for research - even if it's stuff I'm fairly well-versed in, e.g. London's urban landscape; both literal and actual. As an author, what you don't want is for someone to read your work and call out some, 'nah, it doesn't work like that.' Of course, a reader might dispute the realism of your content (and personally, I love for my readers to discuss my work), but you don't want to be shown up as not having done your homework. The pay-off is that doing your homework leads to more more credible stories, and - ideally - more engaging ones.
Note that these two are the most important, because the writing is the bottom line. The be-all and end-all, the bread and butter, the alpha-omega. And the process is as simple as start writing something, finish writing something, and repeat. Also bear in mind that the regularity of work means people are more likely to buy into what you do, as opposed to you being a one-hit wonder, as it were. Of course, such regularity leads to a build-up of completed stories, which leads me into...
3. Shopping my work. In much the same way that you wouldn't buy your groceries just anywhere, or bank just anywhere, or travel just anywhere, etc., so it is with the business of publishing. In a market of publishers, you wouldn't sell your work 'just anywhere' - you'd look for something you feel is a good fit for you. Of course, you may not be able to sell your work 'just anywhere', but it's a business where - ideally - both author and publisher will gain. And because I write regularly, there's finished work that I can devote time to shopping around, rather than having it sit idly and not generate any business for me. What I also need to do is:
4. Review how I hustle. Because there's a truism in life that if you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always got. The craft of writing is what I have a pretty tight handle on; even though my craft continues to evolve. Maybe not so much for the business side of things, the promotion and such. But what matters is recognising that, and re-working that; tightening my game. In addition to reviewing existing hustle is also...
5. Adapt into related areas. In particular, this is me doing a stint as part of the New Nightmares course on writing horror next spring. As someone who's clocked up hours of beta reading and supporting other authors (both non-officially and in an official/HWA capacity), this is a chance to give back to the genre, teach, and get rewarded for my time. It also helps me...
6. Be more visible. And there's an element of irony in that a black man in a genre that's predominately white isn't so visible, but that's not the thrust of this mention. No. Let's put it in context. As someone who's submitted a story to an open-invite anthology once or twice, I've been told on more than one occasion that, for a book that may have up to some 30 stories in it, they were picked from the better part of 1000 submissions. I'll wager that members of the indie horror community at large don't know that many authors - let alone the horror *audience* at large; the nine-to-fivers, kids in college, retirees, etc. So, among other things, I'll be at StokerCon in person for the first time, in June 2023. Not only so I can meet some of my peers face to face, but so I can be seen.
Because, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not seen enough. Nowhere near.
So when you see me, rest assured I'm putting in work. Because I am.
photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo @ www.clemono.com