I have asked myself this question quite frequently in recent months, because until a few days ago I had not written a single page. Some nights I sat down at the laptop, opened the program and … yes, and that was it. Sometimes I shut down the computer again after a few minutes, sometimes I sat there for half an hour, typed a word here, a sentence here and deleted everything directly. The thoughts were simply not with the thing, were – related to the writing – as blocked.
Maybe that’s what they call writer’s block. When there is not enough room for stories in the mind, when it revolves around thousands of other things, whether private or professional. Again and again I said to myself: “You have to write something again.”
Theory and practice
Do I have to? Do I have to write anything? After all, I am in the fortunate position that being an author is only a hobby, that I earn my money with a “real” job (yes, full-time author would also be a real job!) and am not dependent on earning money with my books. I write for the fun of it.
So much for the theory. But the practice looks somewhat different. After the publication of the first book, the learning curve (errors, mistakes, mistakes …) and the first positive feedback I had to admit that it wasn’t just about writing anymore. Writing should also be read – not only within the family and circle of friends – and this meant that the time that had to be invested in things other than writing became more.
Even though making up and writing new stories is a lot of fun and I wouldn’t call it work for myself, the road from the end of the book to publication is long and sometimes quite exhausting. Revise, revise again, rethink comments from editors and test readers and integrate them into the story (something that sometimes forces more extensive changes), find a cover, create the e-book and paperback layout, plan marketing measures, write to bloggers (review copies), post the e-book at the portals, have the paperback printed and so on. Some things I like more, others less.
In addition, there are more and more books, always new stories, between which one’s own work wants to find its way to the reader in some – as positive as possible – way. According to the prevailing opinion, an author should publish a new work every six or twelve months at the most. There are heaps of (also good) authors who publish much (much, much, much) more than I do. And yes, sometimes I look wistfully at the chart positions of my colleagues 🙂
If I could make the author’s life just as I like it (without changing the result of course), I would probably concentrate entirely on writing and communicating (with authors / readers / bloggers). These are things I like, things I enjoy. But being an author is so much more than that.
I’ll write whatever I feel like. Or is it?
The answer to this question is quite simple. Actually. And actually, it’s not. So far I have published four books (apart from a few short short stories). First a thriller (“Die Frauenkammer“), one year later a youth Urban fantasy novel (“Mira Magica – Böse und gut“), 2015 followed another thriller with “(W)ehe du gehst” and finally last year “Schattentäter“, a mystery thriller. As you can see, a proper genre mix, simply because I had an idea for a story that I wanted to write, that I wanted to write.
A few days ago, now that my head is a little freer again, I sat down to a new book. Finally had, no, I feel like writing again. However, the question of “what” arose directly.
For “Schattentäter” as well as for “Mira Magica” I have a sequel in my head and especially for Mira I have been itching my fingers for a long time. But:
The reader determines what is written for
Okay, that’s a bit clumsy and simplified, but basically it’s like this: As much fun it is to write a story, as little fun it is not being read after months of preliminary work. Especially when it comes to your own favourite story.
At this point I would like to make a comparison of the sales figures. The ratio of sold e-books (I leave paperbacks generally out, since the numbers are infinitesimally small) from “Schattentäter” to “Die Frauenkamemr” and “(W)ehe du gehst” is about 2 : 9. So there are only two mystery thrillers for every nine copies of my thrillers I sell. It is even clearer with “Mira Magica – Böse und Gut”. Here the ratio is about 1 : 40 to 1 : 50. Obviously I was not able to find access to the appropriate target group.
Already during the blogger search for the publication of “Schattentäter” (Mira Magica concerns this even more clearly) I noticed that the genre is more difficult to bring to the woman reviewing. “Mystery? Sorry, I don’t read.” I have heard that more often and it is also reflected in the sales. The marketing measures for this book were even more extensive and planned than for the previous ones, so it shouldn’t have been that, and the publication date was similar.
While in “(W)ehe du gehst” I was able to mobilize many readers of “Die Frauenkammer” through the same genre and probably also through two recurring persons, in “Schattentäter” there were considerably fewer who took part in the small genre change – and the jump to Miras fantasy world, well, the numbers speak for themselves 😉
In many cases there is a recommendation to use different pseudonyms for different genres. If someone writes both in “normal” genres and in eroticism, I can understand that – even with hybrid authors who want to separate their publishing works clearly from self-publishing, or with male authors who prefer to publish their romance novels as a woman (makes perfect sense, I think 😉 ). Otherwise I don’t think it’s necessary.
I even think that the higher effort for the maintenance of two pseudonyms is not worthwhile as long as the different genres are clearly visible on the book title and/or cover. As a rule, the pseudonyms are not secret anyway and most people know which author they are dealing with. With a new pseudonym, the fan build-up begins anew.
A new book begins
Back to the actual topic. A few days ago I sat down again to a new text – and finally decided not to write part 2 of Schattentäter or Mira Magica. It’s gonna be a story that’s in the genre – well, who would have thought? – Thriller, because I want to reach as many readers as possible who have also read my other thrillers.
I’m still writing because I enjoy it. I noticed that again on the first pages of the new story. And yet I do not write what I enjoy most because it is not so well received.
All this is “high level whining.” Before my first publication, I never thought I’d ever have as many readers as I do now. I’m grateful for that.
In the end, the question remains to you: How about you? Why do you write what you write (if you write)? 😉