Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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June 27, 2022

Re-gear Your Writing Career—Take Risks to Revitalize

By Kris Maze

You’ve written a book.  Or three.  Or three hundred.

You’re examining the road to publication. Or starting to query. Or multi-contracted.

You’re dutifully working through your first draft. Or working with an editor.  Or a publisher.

Wherever you are in your writing career, it may feel frustrating, tiresome, or difficult to continue on your passion of writing a book.  If your writing could use a boost and your writing enthusiasm is waning, consider making a calculated risk to revitalize your writing career.

Many writers have hit a wall with traditional publishing and while publishing their own books.  Although I am not describing specific tools in detail to revitalize the sale and publication of your own books, I will highlight a few that I have been trying and give insights to my experience so far.

5 Risky Ways to Add Life to your Writing Career

Risk #1 – Write in another genre

One simple way to add a little spice to your writing skills is to write in another genre. Writing outside your norm can benefit writers in many ways. By trying a new type of story writing you can experience these benefits. Writing in another genre...

  • Offers different story length expectations

In my recent writing experiences, I have toyed with writing longer works and shorter novellas based on short stories I have written for contests.  Using feedback from the judges on the short stories helped me develop the new ideas into working longer books. 

Writing in different genres requires writing in different word count frameworks.  Epic Fantasy readers expect a lengthy, elaborate book, but some YA readers are as short as 10,000 words.

Not certain what is your genre’s word count expectation?  Read this blog post from Reedsy.com to find out more. There is an interactive quiz that requires an email, but this respected resource sends you information about the genre you write.

  • Offers ways to explore more interests in writing.

Finding ways to incorporate realistic details into your work could involve learning a new skill or hobby. Here is a post I wrote earlier this year on the benefits of learning something new and how it can improve one’s writing.

  • Offers ways to develop tropes, characters, and worldbuilding as you focus on the demands of the new genre.

I began my writing career with a sci-fi novella, but discovered my stories also resembled horror. After several of my short stories were returned to me with conflicting information about how it related to other speculative genres, it became apparent that my writing included scary, intense moments of fight or flight, and a force, or monster, to defeat. 

Given my love of Gothic fiction by classic writers like Thomas Hardy, Edith Wharton, and Edgar Allan Poe, it made sense that what I was writing was at it’s heart, horror.   It took me a while to accept my new calling to a genre I wouldn’t have claimed, but once I wrote longer scary works, the readership increased.  These stories have significantly more downloads than my other speculative works and the readers are more willing to interact with me.  Consider a new or adjacent genre to write and have fun with it. 

Risk #2 – Write in Another Location

Find a New Coffee Shop or Pub. 

Writing Goodness
photo courtesy of Eldred Bird

Worried about distractions?  Pop in the earbuds. Get a beverage of choice and goooo!

People watch in a park.

Take notes, but try not to be that creepy guy or gal. It helps you avoid the nasty stares one can get as a result watching a stranger and putting all their interesting interactions to paper or pixel.

Take a writing vacation.

Time away from your day-to-day at home can inspire your writing.  Rent a place or borrow a friend’s cabin for a few weeks.  It can reset your mind and help the words flow on the page.

Vacations can also provide you with details helpful in world building. Go to the place you are trying to write about.  Find somewhere with a setting you want to include in your book and observe with your writer mind. Take a close look at what  people eat and what they wear.  Find out what people in this area do for fun or examine a tradition unique to their region.  Putting realistic and engaging details onto the page should be easier after experiencing it firsthand.

Find a local writing group and join them for writing sprints. 

Perhaps your “other place to write” is on online version for critiques.  Don’t be afraid to make new writer friends.  They may enable you to grow in your craft through accountability and new ideas.

There are several writing groups on Facebook that offer support to writers.  Several writers I know use these online critique groups and enjoy working with writers from around the world. Some are also experts and can offer insights on details within their stories.  One writer friend works with a scientist in their online group, which helps in editing her sci-fi novel.

Risk #3 – Write to promote your work

Many writers don’t want to spend time promoting their work, but it is a valuable way to sell more books. Taking time to connect with your readers is an important way to build a reading base of people exciting to buy books and invest in your stories.

Try one of these tried-and-true methods, if you are not sure where to start.

  • Update your readers with a regular newsletter.  It could be weekly, twice a month, monthly, or once a quarter, for example.  Whatever frequency works for you should work, but know that it is best to fulfill reader expectations.  If you send out news once a month, try to keep it consistent. 
  • Make valuable material available to your readers.  Creating interesting stories takes time and energy, but don’t neglect the other ways you can interact with your readers.  Build up a fan base by sending readers what they want. Wow them. Make it fun. Fill it with freebies.  Give them funny jokes and let them remember why they like reading your work to begin with. Tell a cute story about how an unexpected event turned into part of your novel.  Let them into your cool-as-a-crazy writing world and let them know you appreciate their continued readership.
  • Get on social media.  It is easier than ever to interact with readers with many social media options. Some writers believe that it’s important to post across all media.  And although it is a strategy, it may be better to narrow down your efforts to the online places where your readers like to hang out. Find out where your readers are and have some fun with them.

Pro Tips:

  • If you find a mystery-loving Facebook group or an Instagram sweet romance author with many follows, study what they are doing when you use online tools to schedule your post.
    • Look at other author’s posts that generate comments and follows and find out which hashtags they use.  Consider using ones that resonate with your work and brand.
    • Identify what types of media they use to attract their readers?  Do they have short stories?  Do they use book segments or dramatic readers to draw in readers?  Are flashy, moving elements in their posts drawing in reader responses or not? 
    • Find out what works for your intended audience and then, try it out!

Many notable social media management companies offer free plans for limited use.  See if those from companies like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Later have the features you want. Using the trial can help you decided how valuable the resource is to your writing.

I am currently using Publer to schedule my social media posts.  And have liked it’s features including:

  • Scheduling a post to 5 social media accounts
  • An easy-to-read dashboard and calendar
  • The ease of using links, photos, and other media in a post.
  • It also integrates with Canva – another great tool I like to use for working with pictures and for creating new content to share with readers.

Risk #4 – Write with a funnel

Indie writers who have books to sell have been using the tools found in various ‘funnel’ services for years.  I have been working with BookFunnel for 2 years and have been pleasantly surprised at how well the tools work for my horror writing. 

If you are not familiar with what these services do, here are some ways that I use the online platform:

Upload a short story as a giveaway.

It will enable the author to giveaway the book with a link that can perform certain actions like limiting the amount of downloads or to request an email in exchange for the book.

Email list building. 

In the past 2 years I have increased my email list to 1600 plus readers using this platform.  It allows authors to upload their books together to join their promotional giveaways, for example, so that readers are directed to all the authors’ sales or promos.  This is a powerful tool since it allows writers from different parts of the world to work together and share their lists.  The cross-promotion adds new readers to all of the writers’ lists.  This allows for exposure to potential new fans for your work and new author connections in the same type of writing.  

Send a protected advanced reader copy (ARC). 

Authors should be careful of sending their work to others for feedback, especially in the final editing stages.  It would be heart-breaking to spend years and financial resources on a book only to have it ripped into the online underworld of stream-for-free without your consent.  But how to writers protect their work while still building readership and getting valuable feedback? 

Using a funnel is one way to send work to a reader for free. 

Book Funnel has several options for sending a reader to your ARC, but the reader will read it in their app, keeping your book safe. As an author you can

Sell your book direct. 

Many of these services allow authors to sell their books directly to readers.  If you have an email list, you can sell the book in the same protected ways that you can send an ARC.  If your writing career could use some revitalizing, try these tools to share your work with readers.

Risk #5 – Update your Website

As a part of my new focus on horror writing, I soon realized that my readers were more likely to like either horror or sci-fi, but not both.  Not wanting to push away readers of either genre, I looked into updating my author website to incorporate clear elements of both types of writing.

My website had long been overdue for updates and had a non-functioning store. I worked with the amazing Lisa Norman on what ended up being 2 separate sites (one for sci-fi, KrisMaze.com, and one for horror and darker speculative fiction, KrissyKnoxx.com.) Working with a knowledgeable professional helped me create a clean, functional website that also acts as a store.  It has revitalized my vision of being a writer as I have a few books to upload onto my own sites as a result. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing career, dear writer.  It may be scary to write outside the genre or word count you usually do, but this may be a needed change to keep your writing fresh and interesting.  Keep learning craft and dig deep into the elements of story and quality writing.  Try new technology and tools that enable writers to connect with readers.  This writing journey is more like a roller coaster ride, with twists and turns.  Have fun and enjoy the ride!

Do you have an example of a big risk you took that paid off in your writing career?  What tips would you share with our readers about taking a risk in your writing? We’d love to hear from you!

About Kris

Kris Maze is an author, writing coach, and teacher. She has worked in education for many years and writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and the award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host. You can find her horror stories and keep up with her author events at her website.

A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors.

And occasionally, she knits.

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10 comments on “Re-gear Your Writing Career—Take Risks to Revitalize”

  1. You put into words what I've been feeling the need for lately! That experimentation and risk taking has called me to play in World Anvil, and I'm feeling revitalized. I'm having fun! July is going to be a month of world building play for me. And thanks for the shout out. I have a blast working with you. You have brilliant ideas and you aren't afraid to take risks. That's fun!

    1. Hi Deleyna!
      (AKA--the Author Website Whisperer, in my world)

      I couldn't take the website risks without you though, my friend! The World Anvil seems like a fascinating tool to collaborate with other authors, too. It could be a cross over for video game stories and such as well. I've only dipped into that tool, but look forward to investigating it more.
      Enjoy your worldbuilding fun!
      Kris

  2. Fantastic suggestions, Kris!
    I think it's important to keep things fresh, even if that takes us out of our comfort zone.

    I'm trying a new genre. Well, more than one as YA has lots of subcategories.

    You've got me thinking about taking day trips for observations and incidents for scenes. That should be productive!

    1. Hi Ellen,
      I was thinking of your research for your novels. The Hobo Code and Crystal Memories both involved research into the Midwestern places they occurred. A day trip would be an awesome way to become inspired in your writing. Let me know how that goes!
      Kris

  3. Fantastic post, Kris. Thanks for sharing some very helpful tips.

    I also switched genres back in late 2020, from fantasy & science fiction to mystery. I had toyed with the idea of writing in a different genre as an exercise in cross-training my writing muscles for years, but in 2020 I made the switch because I had to. My longtime interest in mystery as a reader suddenly became a passion, and I had no choice. There have been a few diversions a long the way--I spent last summer writing an urban fantasy novella for an anthology which was published that fall, and I also made a few stabs at more fantasy novels. I'm now fully committed to mystery fiction. I took apart the novel that I wrote, put it back together again, realized it didn't work, and have been building a better version.

    FWIW here's my own advice on taking risks.

    Don't let your self-image of who you are as a writer hold you back. I had identified as a fantasy/SF author for decades. While I'd thought about writing mysteries a number of times before, that self-image kept me from trying.

    Commit to the risk. I kept slipping back into working on fantasy and science fiction novels. I wasted time thinking I could work on two novels at the same time, and also in two genres simultaneously. I finally reached the point where, after it was obvious that the heart of what makes a mystery fiction tick, the investigation, was lacking in my book, that I would need to really commit to mystery fiction and level up my craft.

    Understand that "failure" is part of taking a risk and fundamental to the learning process.

    Have a wonderful week.

    1. Thank you Dale, for sharing your experience and insights. As a sci-fi writer, I am committed to a series I intend to put out in English and Spanish. The idea of focusing on one genre will probably happen at some point, especially if as you mentioned it is also the genre you are most interested in reading. There is no failure in that! Write the stories you enjoy and the readers will enjoy them, too.
      Kris

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