The Dream of Publishing

So… I think you all resolutely deserve an update on my writing progress, especially considering how supportive you have all been despite my many (and lengthy!) absences from the World of WordPress.

My mum commented the other day that I hadn’t posted in a while, and while I like to think I have very good reasons for doing so, there are no real excuses! I do apologise for once again, taking another blog siesta.

Many of you know I want to be a published author more than anything, but the road to that goal has proved to be bumpy and precarious on many occasion. Despite this, I do hope I get around to publishing my novels one day, very soon!

Before I can start publishing, I have a few important things I need to figure out.

Firstly, what genre should I be writing in?

My conundrum is this: I love writing within multiple genres, namely crime/thrillers and romance/fantasy, yet I’ve been told many times that it’s not a good idea to stray into different genres. The cost? Losing valuable readers who expect a certain “product” from you.

Honestly, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. At the very least, I know I will be sticking to the New Adult demographic. This is for two reasons: 1) I’m considered a “New Adult” myself and it… makes sense and 2) I’m not ashamed to admit that I love writing angsty romance stories with a magical twist – the type of books that appeal to this specific demographic (a.k.a write what you want to read!)

One of my “real-life” friends came up with a really good suggestion, an idea that I feel kind of silly for not coming up with myself. She told me I should promote both genres through my blog, but write under a pseudonym. I.e. Publish my fantasy/romance novels under “Milly Schmidt” and publish my thrillers under a different name.

But what type of professional editing do I need to invest in?

I’ve heard from various sources that a comprehensive line/copy edit is the bare minimum you should be considering if you ever want to be taken seriously as an author. I’m all ears on this one guys. If you have any advice at all, I’d love to hear it.

If I could afford it, I’d put my novels though the editing ringer. As it is, even a line/copy edit might be slightly out of reach for me, but I definitely want to do it.

Lastly, how many books should I finish before I start publishing?

I’m currently working on finishing a trilogy. Yes, three books! Though I sometimes wonder what I’ve gotten myself into…

The reason I’m doing this? A very successful indie author once told me I should have three books ready to go before you publish your first book. So that’s what I’m doing… lol.

The trilogy I’m working on is called Blood War, an urban fantasy trilogy that I’ve been working on for years (and the first book in the series has been rejected many times, but hey, why not publish it?) I’m also working on a few other novels, namely, a new adult thriller called When She Goes.

So much to do, so little time!

Whatever I decide to do, as always, you guys will be the first to know.

EDIT: Thanks to those of you who picked up that I forget to mention the type of publishing I’m talking about: which would be self-publishing 🙂


39 thoughts

  1. Hi there,

    I think it’s smart to have several books completed before starting the publishing process. I’ve completed two books and I’m working on my third right now.

    I want to touch on writing multiple genres. Personally, I don’t see a problem with it. Most successful authors have created a successful writing career by bending the rules a bit. Therefore, I plan on writing in multiple genres and I believe my loyal supporters will accept it and support it.


  2. That three books prepared one is a new one! Thanks for sharing that one 🙂

    As for genres…I keep hearing mixed messages. If you’re self publishing, sometimes genre-bending is a plus? I’m not sure. I’m new to this whole thing. Looking forward to updates on the process!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How serendipitous! I was asking myself the same question this morning about genres. After reading an article on the subject this miry, I’m going to need reassess the genre of my one and only completed novel.

    Thanks for another great blog and more food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, as far as genre fiction, do you mean several books with one particular genre for each or one book that could fit in several genres lol??? My first novel (yet to be published but I’m working on it!) is a suspense-filled detective novel with a sci-fi aspect, romantic relationships and a smattering twist of humor! lol Not really sure what genre mine fits in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man I am facing both of these dilemas haha. You sound a lot like me. I have several books of different genres and also one book that could fit in multiple – seems be an okay thing to do if you’re a indie author though

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking at the comments, Millie, it looks like most people are advising you on traditional publishing. Maybe I missed something (I wouldn’t be surprised – I seem to misread things all the time), but I thought you were asking about self-publishing, so I’ll give what advice I have.
    Write what you like to read. I write speculative fiction (Sci-fi, Fantasy, and very light horror), all under one name (William Mangieri). I do have my Detective Jimmy Delaney series as well under the same name – there is only a very slight sci-fi element to them, they’re really more like hard-boiled detective stories (well, maybe soft-boiled.) The advice I’ve seen is that if you write in different genres, you should use a different name for each. I have chosen to stick with one name and have published all 91 (so far) of my stories under that one name.
    Everything I’ve published so far has been short fiction (I will ePub my first novel – Swordsmaster – next month), so my experience is with work between 500 and 15,000 words. I used to have Beta readers, and counted on them and a final read-through on my own to catch problems. My plotting is consistent enough that it’s never been a problem, although I do admittedly find missed spelling, grammar and word mistakes (their instead of there or they’re) when I revisit my work. It’s embarrassing when it happens, but I believe it’s more carelessness on my part, and if I wasn’t in such a hurry to move on to my next new story, I would have caught those waiting a month and then editing again with fresh eyes. You know your own strengths, and can better determine whether you need professional help (I mean editing 😉 )
    How many books should you have before you start?:
    Since you said you’re doing a trilogy, they should all be pretty much ready to go, especially if your readers know the first one is not a stand-alone book – readers get burned all the time by authors who hook them on a story and then don’t follow through (DO YOU HEAR ME, GEORGE R.R. MARTIN?!?) and may choose to wait until they’re sure they won’t be wasting their time on something you will fail to finish. As far as shear volume of books available (not a series or trilogy), I believe the more you have out there, the more visible you become (and if someone likes one of your books, you are now showing them that you have plenty more to choose from.)
    Hope this helped.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so so much for this comment! SO much info! Also, thanks for letting me know that I wasn’t entirely clear – I certainly meant self-publishing. I think, as an indie author, I’m going to stick with the one name for all my books. It wouldn’t make sense to use a different name when I’ve been working so hard on putting this one out there.

      I decided I’m going to get proof reading done at least, and perhaps one day I’ll be able to afford more extensive editing. As long as there are no typos and glaring grammar issues, I’ll be happy. Perhaps my writing may still suck, but I’ll work on that and I’ll let my readers decide if I need to invest in copy/line editing.

      Thanks for the tips on writing a trilogy. I’ve decided I’ll wait until all three are done before I publish the first. Do NOT want to follow in GRRMs footsteps lol.

      Thanks again!! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am not the best to give advice in this area being that I am an unknown indie writer, but here I’ll go:

    You need to pick what you want to do. If you are like me (which is sounds like you are) and you wish to write whatever you want when you want, your best avenue is indie. From all my research, the traditional route will demand adherence to the standards of whatever publishing house you end up with. There’s exceptions of course…

    Like you, I had the dream of being a published author with some major brand. As I’ve come to realize though, that comes at a huge cost. There’s no guarantee that being published means steady financial gain and in addition to that, you end up owning virtually nothing of your IP. It’s that last part that had caught my eye.

    Think of it this way: publishing traditionally means that you are a contract employee producing material for a company (they own the product you made for them); independent publishing means you are an entrepreneur.

    Neither avenue really guarantees success, so it will end up having to be a decision based on what is more important to you. I’ve known a lot of people that like the traditional route simply because it allows them to focus more on writing itself. I don’t know how true that is or not.

    As far as pseudonyms, if you go indie, then they are a toss-up. Some use them; some don’t. I’ve tossed that around myself ultimately deciding against it. If you go trad – then it’ll have to be a question to ask your publisher.

    As far as the best piece of advice is that none of us know what the hell we’re talking about. Some things work for some of us, so we think it’s the guaranteed path, such as your friend saying “three books before you publish one!” I’ve heard of all kinds of things like that and then someone will turn that all on its head. There’s not any one guaranteed path out there, else there wouldn’t be the fire swamp of advice out there we all get stuck in.

    So given all that, I believe it is best to chase after what will fulfill you, because if you don’t feel fulfilled by this reckless pursuit of art that we all run, then what is the point of any of it?

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Are you a member of any writing groups? You can sometimes find other authors who are quality beta readers who can give you good, unbiased feedback. It’s kind of a poor man’s line editor until you can afford a bonafide one. It has to be someone whose judgment you trust, though. You don’t want someone steering you onto the rocks. I’d worry about copyediting last because it’s small potatoes until the final stages.

    As far as having a pen name for another genre — I can understand the reasoning, but then again, there are numerous, highly successful writers who have had success in multiple genres — some use a pen name, but others write under their real name. You could even set up two separate microsites to promote your work in each genre and then use this blog to drive traffic to them. It would be one way of keeping your audiences separate. Just some thoughts, for what they’re worth.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No shame in taking a blogging siesta! I just got back from one myself. I’ve been working on some fan fiction lately, and I guess that was more fun than blogging for a little bit. And yeah, I definitely agree with “write what you want to read”. The more you read a certain genre, the more you get used to how it’s written, so in theory it should be easier to write.


  9. I tend to view such pieces of advice as loose guidelines or food for thought rather than commandments carved in stone. I think it’s also important to consider whether or not the givers of said advice actually know what they’re talking about. There’s a lot of “this worked for me” advice being dispensed, but that advice may not be applicable to others. Many of the most successful authors, artists, musicians, and filmmakers of all time achieved that success by defying conventional wisdom. The majority of them, I’d say.


  10. Looks like you’ve already gotten lots of advice. 🙂 I’ll offer my opinion though.

    Most of the advice you got applies more towards traditional publishing. You can play things a bit looser if you self-publish. Amazon, B&N and a dozen other sites make that a pretty easy process also.

    Genre… Personally I think you can do both, although you may want to get established in on before you branch out. Another option you missed is trying to combine them. Crime with a romance angle has been done before. Very 30s and 40s pulp detective, although you can put a different spin on it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s trickier than doing one or the other, BUT if you can pull off a hybrid genre story right, you’ve got something special.

    Editing… Nothing turns off a reader faster than bad grammar or just confusingly worded sentences. Internet memes will try to convince you grammar is dead, but nothing is further from the truth. If you can’t afford an editor, follow previous advice and get a few literate friends to beta read for you, Make sure they have no dreams of writing themselves OR agree via email that anything you let them read is your work and confidential too.

    How many books… That really depends on how fast you turn out new material. Specifically how fast you can turn out GOOD material that you and your beta readers or editor are happy with. I’d say at the very least, two or three would be a good idea.


  11. Ugh, it’s so hard but it sounds like you are really on the right track. I’ve only submitted to the traditional publishers because I don’t feel I can handle self publishing at this point on my life, and I’ve been rejected so many times. I feel your pain and wish you all the best on your journey.

    Your trilogy sounds very intriguing by the way!


  12. I have one close friend who is a retired doctor. She decided she wanted to publish some photo books and books on research she’d been working on. Since she’s in her late sixties, the choice was simple enough for her — self publishing. She has self published a half a dozen short books. I have all of them, they are really fun. One of my neighbors published her first novel last year, and now she has a sequel and another book coming out. She went through the lots and lots and lots and lots of rejections before she found a publisher. She was very determined and ended up with Spark Press. Her first novel is excellent, and I’m going to pick up the sequel, so she can sign it, when I photograph her book signing later this month. You have a lot of great advice from your readers, I believe if you stay determined you will be picked up by a publisher.


  13. Hi, Milly! Quick question: are you planning on self-publishing? Because some advice is better suited to traditional publishing and some to self-publishing.

    I suggest asking for beta readers to help you figure out the bigger picture editing, and then hiring an editor for the smaller-scale edit. I did that for Restoration Day and it seems to have come out pretty well 🙂

    On the genre topic: the title and the cover can do a huge amount to tell people what kind of genre the book is. So I don’t think you need to be creating multiple author identities to publish different books (unless of course you want to). Personally, I think you’re more likely to have a reader who enjoys both fantasy and thriller books and wants to read more of what you’ve written, than a reader who buys a book with two fantasy characters gazing into each other’s eyes on the cover and is then angry that it isn’t a crime thriller like the last one they read with your name on it! Or you could do variations on your name to cue people in: Milly Schmidt for fantasy romance, say, and M. (middle initial) Schmidt for crime thrillers – though you would then need to keep telling people they’re the same person to get audience cross-over.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I think writing different genres under different pen names is an excellent idea. You could also do some wonderfully interesting photo tricks for your author’s photo.


  15. I’m published by two small presses, with a third publishing another of my books sometime next year, so I’m not really the most experienced when it comes to self-publishing, but it is true that most successful self-published authors pay out for good editing + cover design, and also write extremely fast. What I’d do is get everything ready fro your first book to be published – so start hiring editors and designers, schedule a release date so you can build some buzz – while continuing to work on the sequels. That way, you could release them a few months apart to give yourself time to work on them, but still give readers something to dig into.


  16. I’d suggest you do some research on the # of traditionally published books vs the # of traditionally published authors. And then the ratio of traditional books vs self-published. My point? The probability of you getting “discovered” by a traditional publishing agent or house is microscopic.
    There’s a vast unacknowledged bias here: we read about the success and never the failures. For every new-author published book there are thousands of missed-author novels.
    Now, I’m no successful author. I have crunched the numbers though, and the thought that you’re gonna wait, perhaps years, building your debut library, while you could be gathering a following, one novel at a time, seems foolish. The writing part is easy compared to the marketing task. The mantra I’ve read time an time again? Gather a readership — however you can, as fast as you can.

    RE: Editing. There are two levels, 1) technical, 2) structural. “Close to the metal” edits need to have been mastered and done long ago. These are the raw mechanical aspects: spelling, grammar, adverbs, dialog tags, passive-v-active, POV, scene transition, character voice. You need a close, persnickety editor to get you through level 1.
    Level 2? That’s what takes years to master (I’ve learned). Compelling, unique theme, constant tension/release, conflict escalated to the boiling point, protagonist with unceasing trouble and a nagging goal that is never quelled, believable antagonists. That’s the tough part.

    Bottom line: Low expectations for commercial success, high expectations for personal achievement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Multiple nom de plumes: Do you really want to have to establish, market and manage more than one author identity? Both will need a substantial support infrastructure.


  17. All the best 😊. Three books is a lot of work. But you’ll pull it off, I think. Come on, you have a cat, is there anything that’s impossible? I don’t think so….


  18. You go girl! It sounds like you are doing a great job of considering your options and what route you want to take. You got this!

    I do have two cents on the editing portion because I graduated with an editing minor. From what I’ve studied and seen, I agree that it is definitely worth it to at least invest in some good copyediting…nothing looks worse to a publisher than an obvious typo or super clunky sentence. It’s also a good idea to look into substantive editing (more thorough editing for plot, dialogue, structure, etc.) if you think you’d need it BUT that is more expensive and I feel like it’d be difficult to trust a freelance editor to do that kind of deep editing on your work…

    Anyways, if you’re having trouble finding an affordable line editor, you should shoot me an email at! I do editing projects on the side, and I’ve edited lots of fiction and fantasy 🙂 Because this isn’t my full-time job, I think I could offer cheaper rates than some that you’d find. Let me know, but either way, best of luck to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It sounds like you’ve got a good direction figured out, Milly! I love that you’re looking to pursue different styles of writing you love and it’s smart of you to have several books ready to go- it seems like being able to release without long gaps is helpful to the indie authors (at least the ones who want to make a real income vs. me who’s just a “lookee here, I made a book!” lol :)) All the best with your journey!!!

    Liked by 3 people

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