by Larissa Reinhart
Larissa Reinhart is a #KWLWonderWoman—a savvy entrepreneur building her writing career into a successful independent business. Follow the stories here and on Instagram. Do you have a story to share? Tell us here.
This one’s for all you ladies who are awake in the middle of the night, feeling like time is your enemy. Overwhelmed by all you can’t accomplish in a day. Including sleeping at night.
I’m starting this post like a country song—I’m a fan—because I know you’re out there, filled with anxiety about your numbers, comparing yourself to the writers you idolize, and wanting to do more. Knowing you’re not going to hit your writing goal the next day because you have no food in the house, have six blog posts to write, your dog needs to go to the vet, your child to the orthodontist, and there are eight loads of laundry stinking up your closet.
Wait, that’s just me?
I’ve been a published author, both traditional and now indie, for almost six years. Not a long time, compared to some of my writing friends. But in that time, I’ve been raising two daughters. Suffered through my husband’s job loss. Moved internationally and back home. Lived apart from my husband for two and half years (although we saw each other during holidays and weekends). And balanced multiple visits a year with our families who live ten hours away in two different directions.
In July, I’ll celebrate my thirteenth publication of three different series. Four of the books within the three series have been published in the last year. Which is how long I’ve been indie. And because I’m me, I have to apologize for not doing more because it was also a (sudden) international move year.
Again, this is peanuts compared to some of my other writing friends. They’re doing all this plus balancing full-time non-writing jobs and caring daily for aging or ill family members, among other things.
My non-writing friends often ask me, “how do you do it?” Usually, this is asked upon seeing my open laptop at my twelve-year-old’s volleyball practice. I laugh and say, “I don’t know how I’m doing it.”
But I’d think, Am I doing it? I don’t think I am doing it. I’m not anywhere close to where I want to be. I’m behind on my deadlines. I’m not accomplishing my marketing goals. I have all these story ideas I would like to work on but don’t have the time. And I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed my bedroom.
I’ve always been a glass-half-empty type of gal. But going indie and owning my own business—which should be our mindset if writing is not a hobby—has changed some of that thinking. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and pessimistic about all that I’m not doing, I’m embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.
Let’s look at the positive.
Have I seen growth since starting my press? Yes. Slow growth, but it’s still growth. My series won’t be dropped just because it doesn’t hit blockbuster numbers on release week. I’m not going to be ignored and/or derided due to my sales numbers. Or cut from future marketing projects.
More importantly, am I writing what I want to write? Heck, yeah. Not as much as I’d like, but I don’t know if that will ever be the case.
Am I caught in a hamster-wheel of deadlines that interrupt the needs of my family? No. Not anymore. And if I am, it’s my own dang fault. And I have the ability to adjust. I can look at my family schedule and not plan a release date on my daughter’s birthday or during a move to Japan.
Can I write what I think my readers want? Oh, yeah. And I do love writing for readers and not an editor. Not to say I don’t love my editors. I listen to their editorial suggestions and advice. They know of what they edit. But I’m the final arbiter on character arcs and the direction of a series. After all, I’m the one who hears what readers like and don’t like about characters and plots. I’m not guessing at future market desires. I’m getting market data via my inbox. It’s called fan mail.
Are my books at the whim of a publisher’s pricing decisions? My own whim. If a book struggles, I can place it on sale (Kobo makes this so much easier than other distributors, by the way). I’m no longer notified of the discount at the last minute with no time to create a marketing plan around the sale. Unless I’m the one who didn’t plan ahead. (Which is quite possible.)
And then there are all the other decisions that are mine to make. Sure, choosing the right cover is scary. But better me than someone who’s not read the book, right? I can put excerpts from my other series and special notes to my reader in the back matter. I can change the cover it it’s not working.
For me, becoming an independent publisher (nice ring, right?) has given me back the happiness and joy I used to receive from writing. The expectations I put on myself are not always (usually) reasonable. I am never satisfied with my product or delivery. But I know I can give myself the time and room to grow, develop, and get better.
And you can, too. Give yourself a break. Look at what you’ve accomplished. And at the circumstances under which you’ve achieved those things. Now, visualize the ability and freedom you have to make this business your own. Embrace the entrepreneurial spirit. Organize your schedule to meet your needs. Have patience with your timing and sales. Know that you can be flexible in reaching your goals and fulfilling your other obligations.
And most of all be optimistic about your future. After all, you control your destiny.
Larissa writes humorous mysteries and romantic comedies including the critically acclaimed Maizie Albright Star Detective, Cherry Tucker Mystery, and the Finley Goodhart Crime Caper series. Larissa’s a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, a contributor to the 2017 Silver Falchion Reader’s Choice winner, was the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year-Best Mystery finalist, 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Larissa’s family and dog, Biscuit, had been living in Japan, but once again call Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, and join her newsletter for a free short story.
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