A couple of weeks ago I announced that my Booker and Cash stories had been taken up by a publisher. While that was great news for me the writer, like most things in life the yin has a yang.
Making a living at anything is dependent on a number of things. Among the most important of these is being able to cut your coat according to your cloth. As Mr Micawber perfectly put it: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” It could be argued that’s as true for a multi-national company CEO as it is for a CWAP.
In a narrower sense making a living as a CWAP is reliant on a few core attributes: good storytelling, good presentation, good marketing. Be competent at these elements and you can scrape a CWAP living. If you’re good at all of those things then you can make a better living. If you’re very good at all of these things you can make a very good living.
If you’re very good at all the above, making a very good living as a CWAP and obeying Mr Micawber’s principal for happiness there is not the economic pressure to churn books out quickly. I’d venture that one maybe two a year will do it.
I think I fall into the ‘competent’ category regarding two of the three elements mentioned above (and incompetent at the third – marketing.) Still, as that other oft quoted celeb of times past was known to wail, two out of three ain’t bad. Mainly thanks to other interests I get by. Just.
One of the reasons I’ve ‘got by’ is because I’ve compensated for my lack of excellence at writing, presentation and marketing by regularly producing new books. This has enabled me to keep my name and content visible where it matters most to a CWAP – in front of readers.
So to my yang. The last book I put out was Cold Kills in December. I had planned to release Poor Hands (Booker and Cash #3) by now - it’s good to go. And then in the summer Booker and Cash #4, a book I have a good start on and which will be my next completed full length novel. Now that Booker and Cash #3 is off my hands, so to speak, I have a huge void in my self-publishing calendar. (I can hardly rush out #4 before #3 is released.) And for a CWAP like me that’s not good. What to do?
I have another book written but (a) it’s a complete change of direction for me and so unlikely to interest my regular readers and (b) I feel the need to have three books ready in that series before I think about releasing the first. It’s a series I’m intending to make something of and I want to do it right with a whole new audience. An important lesson I’ve learned from my CWAP adventure is that there is a far better chance of ‘success’ if readers have something to go straight onto after they’ve read a first in a series that they like. It’s all about momentum.
I also have a number of shorter stories that I’ve been writing over the last year and a bit, and I’m working on another at the moment. I’m considering bundling them all together in one book and self-publishing them. Together the word count will amount to about seventy thousand words, which equates to a short novel. This could fill the void in my CWAP publishing life.
I like the short story form. I like the stories I’ve written. I want to share them with readers and see what they think. This need to maintain some form of publishing momentum could be the kick I need to do something with these stories that would otherwise just clog up my hard drive. I also want/need to keep my writing visible and, yeah, I want to continue to make a CWAP living because I do enjoy sitting at home all day writing stories for a job.