By Wendy Tyson
There’s a saying in law: becoming partner at a law firm is like winning a pie-eating contest only to find out the prize is more pie. Think about that. Now think about it in terms of writing. You take months, maybe years, maybe even decades to write that novel. You revise, fine tune, attend writers’ groups, hire an editor. You research agents, pore over information about publishing, struggle with that all-important query letter. After dozens, maybe scores, maybe even hundreds of rejections, you get a resounding, wonderful, heaven-sent “yes.” You’re going to be a published author.
Enjoy the glory. Bask in it.
Then get back to work.
The fact is the publishing contract is just the beginning. Thereafter, you will be Out There (if you’re not already). This means marketing your books, interacting on social media, attending conferences, and developing your brand. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of creating your brand—fellow Murderers’ Row author Elizabeth Heiter did a great job with that in a previous blog—but I will say that everything you do as a published author will somehow fall under that brand umbrella, so you should give it some serious consideration. The point is, there’s a lot to learn even after your books are in the marketplace and, in many ways, the stakes are much higher.
But that’s where my pie-eating analogy ends.
Many of us are drawn to the writing life because we have a creative side that we want to nurture. Whether we write cyber thrillers, romantic suspense or hardboiled mysteries, it’s likely we prefer writing to the business of writing. And chances are it’s the writing—not the business of writing—that keeps us tied to this crazy endeavor. I write because I have to. I write because I love it. And being a published author doesn’t have to mean more pie as long as I remember the “why” of what I do and don’t allow myself to get locked in. Why do you write? It’s a good question to ask yourself now and again.
I recently made a slight turn in my publishing career. My previous novels were traditional mysteries and psychological thrillers. They were books that dealt with some hardcore issues like human trafficking, teenage mental health, and Alzheimer’s. My newest novel, the first in the Greenhouse Series, is more of a cozy mystery. It takes place in a small fictional Pennsylvania town outside of Philadelphia (Bucks County, for those familiar with the area), and my protagonist is a big-city-lawyer turned organic farmer/café owner. Did I mention there’s a sexy veterinarian love interest?
During a recent interview, I was asked why I went lighter with this series, and whether I had given up writing about important issues. The question gave me pause. When I had the idea for the Greenhouse series, I knew it was the correct path. My husband and I are passionate organic gardeners, and we’d started an urban CSA. I’m ardent about sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of animals, and I spend a lot of time advocating for GMO labeling. Going with a cozy series, one that touched on these topics in a fun, suspenseful, relatable way, just seemed…right. I could still write edgier books. In fact, the Campbell series is continuing as well. But I wanted to keep my writing fresh, and for me, this project was the answer.
I’m still marketing, staying on top of social media (okay, trying to stay on top of social media), participating in conferences, and generally attending to the business of writing. As a matter of fact, as of today, I am behind on at least a half dozen things. I don’t mind, though, because when I get back to the basics of writing, I’m reminded that the prize is creative freedom. And that tastes pretty damn good.
WENDY TYSON has written four published crime novels, including Dying Brand, the third novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, which was released on May 5, 2015. The first in the Campbell series, Killer Image, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of the Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first of which, A Muddied Murder, is due to be released on March 29, 2016. She lives with her family on a micro-farm near Philadelphia.
To learn more about Wendy Tyson’s novels, click on the covers below: