Friday, 1 April 2016

Too Many Balls in the Air...

Different genres require different approaches...
Can you really work on two projects at a time?

Some may say I have a butterfly mind, an inability to concentrate on a single thing for too long. Or, in a mangled piece of management-speak, you might accuse me of not being a completer-finisher. I prefer to think of myself as a multi-tasker, someone who can cheerfully talk you through the chances of seeing (or not seeing) the aurora borealis while choosing a dinner menu and, as a bonus, taking note of your somewhat confused expression so that I can sneak you into my next book as a puzzled bystander.

Just now, I’m finding myself pulled both ways. Creativity is a terrible thing when it’s stifled (just think of writers’ block, if you dare) and a magnificent thing when it’s working well. Once you start you can’t stop. Barbara Cartland wrote 723 novels, 23 of them in a single year (that’s a world record, by the way) AND they were mostly historical so required at least a pretence at research. I know several authors who can turn out a book every couple of months — how those who take ten years to produce a first draft must envy them!

I fall somewhere in the middle. If I’m concentrating, I can produce three, possibly four, full length novels in a year. But the process is not a simple one. It isn’t a case of write, edit, publish, promote. From beginning to end the process might take a year (going via a publisher) and probably somewhat less (if I bite the bullet and self-publish some of the log jam that’s backing up). So, inevitably, I’m going to be working on more than one at once.

...are they clashing or complementary?
And then there’s the promotion. That’s the ball that always stays in the air, each novel, as a fellow novelist warned, another mouth to feed. When you finish one book and move on to the next you have to keep promoting the first. Now I have five active (so to speak) and have just finished the sixth. 

Number six is a different genre from the first five. It’s romance, sure enough, but it’s more heavily inclined to suspense and if the story continues into books two and three and more, it’ll end up as crime. That’s my headache. 

I can manage multiple plots and I can (just about) remember the names of my characters, which one’s the blonde and which the brunette. But I have to assume that some of my readers are more interested in romance than crime. Some, of course, might hate the romance and prefer the slightly grittier conflict of romantic suspense. Without creating a totally separate brand for myself as a writer, how can I satisfy them all?

Do I do a couple of weeks of promotion based on a sun drenched Mediterranean theme and then ditch it for a tranche of graphics of burning buildings? Or do I run them concurrently and confuse everyone as much as I’ve confused myself.
It’s an unanswered question right now; and I suspect the only way to find out is trial and error.


  1. Great post, Jennifer. Enjoyed reading. I had no idea you wrote so much - wow! I find it hard enough working on 2 at the same time. Very insightful & best wishes with the new release.

  2. Thanks Suzy. As I say... the more you write, the more you write. :)

  3. Glad it's not just me!I'm experimenting with multiple projects at the moment-but a mix of fiction and non-fiction. And don't even mention marketing and promotion!

    1. So true! Wouldn't it be terrific if we could just do the writing and the rest of it would take care of itself? Think how much we'd achieve...

  4. I can't write the same kind of novel twice, it seems - apart from 3 City Nights novellas, but they are different...
    I have several unfinished things at the same time and I can't remember where I'm blogging next. I think I can keep the stories straight because my real life is pretty simple and humdrum, and my job is pretty handy!

  5. I'm glad I'm not alone. I like to write in different styles and in different genres. It's not easy to keep all those balls in the air...