Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Options Open

A popular post from February 2011

by Annette Lyon

Back when I first imagined being a published writer, I assumed my books would be young adult fantasies. That's what I first wrote and submitted.

My first publications were something slightly different: a local newspaper piece celebrating the anniversary of a local event and an article in a scrapbooking newsletter.

I went on to do more freelance article work (to date, I've made over 100 sales), but fiction is and has always been my first love. So I kept writing young adult fantasy.

Until I didn't.

I went to writing conferences and started rubbing shoulders with people in the business. I got new ideas, saw new possibilities, new markets. And I ended up with brand new ideas for a totally different kind of book.

Years (and many manuscripts and rejections) later, I ended up publishing two contemporary romances, four historicals, and a women's novel.

To say that wasn't what I expected would be an understatement. And then another detour: I had the chance to write a chocolate cookbook.

Not something I ever in a million years would have expected to do, yet there was that door opening. I wasn't about to say no.

Since my first publications well over a decade ago, I've done editing work for individuals as well as companies. I've been paid for script writing, proofing, and press kits.

I wrote a grammar guide and self-published it (again, something I would have seen as way off in left field when I first started).

The rights on my first two books reverted to me. The first is now on Kindle, and the second will be within days. I have plans to get more books onto the Kindle without a publisher. And I still plan to publish traditionally as well.

At times, I feel like my head is spinning with all the different directions my career has taken me. I literally need about half a dozen sheets in an Excel workbook to keep it all straight.

And I love it.

I love how many opportunities come my way. I've learned that while the work clothes they arrive in may not match my original expectation, when they knock, I should go for 'em.

Some benefits:

So much in the process of writing a variety of fields has taught me lessons that improve my work in every area. (Even technical script writing can help my fiction. Shocking, but true.)

I have multiple streams of income. This is particularly nice between the two-times-a-year royalty checks.

I'm motivated to improve and work hard, because much of my work comes through referrals. If I do a good job for one client, there's a good chance they'll pass along my name when a friend needs help.

My skills as a public speaker have improved. The more I write and work, the more I've been asked to speak. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Public speaking used to terrify me. Now I know I can get in front of a crowd and have something worthwhile to offer them.

More doors open all the time. I'm amazed at how many new things keep coming up the pike for me. I'm to the point where I have to sit back and decide what is most worth my time, because there really isn't time for it all. (What a great problem to have!)

So no, my writing career doesn't resemble my original idea of it, not hardly. The one exception is that I can go to a bookstore and see my books on the shelf with my name on them. (Which, I will say, is totally awesome.)

Beyond that, I do a lot of work that most of my novel readers will likely never see. I don't mind; I love that I have so many opportunities to make money and publish and WRITE. I enjoy every bit of it.

So when a writing opportunity opens up, don't slam the door shut because it's not part of the image you've created in your head. Look a little closer; by letting it in, you may adding a future opportunity that could lead to bigger and better things.


Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Great article, and soooo true, Annette. Since I find myself following a similar path, I can verify to the blog readers that learning to diversify can certainly help in increasing your income potential!

pamparker said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas on diversifying for your career. One thing I wondered about, given all the web buzz recently about fewer women writers submitting compared to men, how would you encourage diversification for women writers who may be stuck on the fear of rejection alone? I have an older blog post about it, but think this is a big nut to crack for many women.

Annette Lyon said...

Pam, I haven't heard the buzz about women vs men--every conference I've been to, for example, is female-dominated. (I do think that publishers and reviewers tend to favor men--and I'm not alone on that, speaking of web buzz), but that's another post!

Fear of rejection is a huge hurdle. I may have to attempt to crack that nut open a bit in a future post. Thanks for the suggestion.

Myra said...

You gave me something to think about. I have read other opinions that encourage a writer to stick to one category of writing. That is difficult for me because I have so many interests and choosing just one is nearly impossible. It leaves me indecisive and feeling like I cannot do anything because I can't settle on just one.
But then, there is the challenge of keeping the variety organized and moving forward.
"If you chase two rabbits, they will both get away."
I would like to know how you do it, without losing both rabbits.

(one of my rabbits):

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