I've been thinking a lot about my writing career recently, and specifically, about the path it will take in the future.
Here's the story so far. I signed a contract with Covenant Communications in 2000 and my first novel, Haven, did pretty well. Well enough that they asked me for a sequel, and A World Away was published the following year. "Yay!" I thought. "I've made it!" So I wrote the third book in the Haven trilogy, Christmas at Haven.
Covenant turned it down. I rewrote it, changing some of the bits they didn't like, and they turned it down again. So I wrote a different book, leaving behind my genre of gentle LDS fiction and stepping into historical LDS fiction. They turned down Easterfield too.
I gave up writing and concentrated on raising my family for a few years.
In 2008 I dusted Easterfield off, read it, liked it (I still do) and sent it to a different publisher or two. Walnut Springs liked it and published it. I was back!
In 2010 Cedar Fort published Honeymoon Heist, an LDS romantic thriller.
In 2011 I changed genres again and left the LDS market altogether when Walnut Springs published my romantic thriller, No Escape.
Are you keeping up? A little over a decade, six books, three publishers, five genres. That is one crazy mixed-up writing career.
My next three books were self-published. The Saved Saint (in collaboration with Hellen Riebold) was too controversial for any of my publishers as it dealt with religious disagreements. Emon and the Emperor was my first attempt at science-fiction/fantasy which none of my publishers handle, and I put out Random Ramblings, a collection of short stories, as a free book to support my other work. They've all sold in single figures, even the free one. Self-publishing is not the way to go, for me at least.
So now I've come full circle, and Haven has been revised and updated and republished by Walnut Springs with a beautiful new cover. Next year will see the sequel, retitled Escape to Haven, and the third in the trilogy, Christmas at Haven, hitting the shelves.
The point of all this rambling is that I'm at a crossroads in my writing career. I need to decide whether I'm going to continue to strike out into the secular market--alone, possibly, given that my publishers are all LDS--or go back to what I seem to do best: gentle LDS romances. My favourite books to read are science fiction, but that doesn't seem to be what I'm best at writing.
Do I keep writing at all? It's very hard work these days, especially the publicity part, and doesn't bring a lot in the way of financial reward. I have a great day job which pays well and which I enjoy, and I do a bit of freelance editing, so it's not as though I need the money. Should I leave the overcrowded market for other up-and-coming writers?
If you've ever read any of my books, please let me know what you think in the comments. Here are my choices:
- Continue to write whatever my muse (his name is Phil, you can read about him here) gives me, and try to break out into the national market with a major publisher.
- Go back to writing LDS popular fiction.
- Give up writing altogether.
(If you haven't read any of my books but you'd like to weigh in, Random Ramblings is free on Smashwords, and you can download free samples of all my books on Amazon, or read the first chapters on my website, www.annajonesbuttimore.com.)