We haven’t heard from American expat in Hong Kong and aspiring writer Shannon Young for a while. Does that mean she’s thrown in the towel on the full-time writing gig? Read on to find out…
Dear Displaced Diary,
It has been a few months since my last entry. When we left off, I had just completed the final book in my post-apocalyptic Seabound Chronicles, and I was working a part-time job that had me trekking to a different corner of Hong Kong each week to teach a reading program in local schools.
Well, it’s a new year, Dear Diary, and I’m starting fresh in a big way. The four titles in the Seabound Chronicles are now out in ebook and paperback, and they are being read by an ever-growing number of people. I’m back to full-time writing, with an even greater appreciation for the beauty of uninterrupted time. My sales ranks and income are trending in a decidedly positive direction.
My New Year’s resolution is to continue writing in a full-time capacity without needing to take piecemeal teaching work. If my calculations are correct, another two strategically positioned novels and a box set of the Seabound Chronicles will put me firmly into “don’t need to get a new job” territory.
It’s more than a resolution: it’s my mission.
I’ve planned ahead a bit, so I already had rough drafts of the two novels in question when the year started.
Here’s the game plan for 2016:
- Finish and publish Ferry Tale, a love story set in Hong Kong, under the name Shannon Young.
- Compile and publish a box set of the Seabound trilogy.
- Finish and publish Duel of Fire, the first book in my new fantasy series, under the name Jordan Rivet.
There’s just one catch: I need to do all of these things by April!
I have three months before I may need to start looking at job openings again, and I don’t intend to waste them. Having limited time throughout the fall has given me new motivation to make the most of every hour.
So the challenge is there, and the stakes are set.
Here’s how it’s going to happen:
January is a serious writing and revision month. That means 7-8 hours a day at Starbucks for the writing, and more time at home for research and publishing miscellany. That means eating, sleeping, and breathing my stories. That means working some weekends. That means staying focused.
It has been awesome so far. I finished up the second draft and polished off the third draft of Duel of Fire and sent it my first round of readers in the first week of January. I did the same with the first and second drafts of Ferry Tale in the second week (it’s much shorter, in all fairness).
While my diligent and self-sacrificing beta readers are going through Duel of Fire and Ferry Tale, I started the sequel to Duel of Fire, which is tentatively titled King of Mist.
In Week 3, I wrote 50,000 words. That is one full NaNoWriMo.
I know the characters, used an outline, and spent a minimum of eight hours writing each day, which is the only way I could manage to reach that word count. I expect to complete the rough draft in the first half of the fourth week in January, around the time you are reading this.
One thing I learned from the Seabound Chronicles is that sales increase exponentially with multiple books out in a series and quick releases, so I’m aiming to have the sequel ready for publication by May.
But back to my game plan:
February, the month for love, is the month for Ferry Tale. The plan is to finish the final draft and publish in time for Valentine’s Day.
The Seabound box set will launch in March, three months after the publication of the final book in the series. Hopefully this will give it a nice boost while I prepare for the launch of the new Jordan Rivet series.
Meanwhile, work on Duel of Fire and its sequel will continue throughout February and March. I’ve booked an editor for March 9th, leaving no room to mess around. (The cover should be coming back from the designer around then as well, and it’s going to be wicked cool!) Pub Day should happen around April 1st—no fooling! I’m hoping that by the time the sequel launches I’ll have earned another few months in No-Day-Job Land.
Doing whatever it takes.
It may sound like I’m rushing these books. But the honest truth is I’m still going to end up doing four to five drafts of each one, just like for the Seabound series. I’m simply spending more hours in the chair. It’s a far sight better than writing on a minibus as it swerves all over the New Territories, which is what I did during my teaching contract!
I’ve also found that—shockingly—I’m getting better at this. The more I write the easier it is. I’m creating increasingly detailed outlines for my books in advance, which makes the writing itself faster and the books better. My prose needs less polishing because it’s getting down on the page in better shape. And the knowledge that I am capable of completing books makes completing books less daunting.
So the plan for 2016 is to work harder, work smarter, work for more hours each day, and get these stories out into the world. I’m excited about the possibilities.
2015 was the warm-up. 2016 is going to be big.
By the way, Diary, if you see me at Starbucks too long after dark, you should probably tell me to go home.
AKA Jordan Rivet
* * *
Wow, Shannon, I’m inspired! In fact, though I know your game plan reflects how indie book sales work, it makes me think of Victorian times, when novels appeared not all at once but in parts or installments, over a space of time. All of Charles Dickens’s novels were published that way, most of them in stand-alone monthly parts. Are we going back to the era of serial fiction? In which case, may you keep up your Dickensian pace. That said, when you’re burning too much of the midnight oil, please remember Dickens slept from midnight until seven in the morning every day. Readers, any more advice or words of encouragement for Shannon in achieving her ambitious goals of 2016? ~ML
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