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Writing

Lunch with Jeff = Change in Writing Plans

In my last post, I told you about my plans to write two new books next year.

Then I had lunch with Jeff, and now my plans have changed significantly.

Partners in Crime (Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission)

Partners in Crime (Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission)

Jeff Moriarty is one of the most creative people I know. He has a gift for developing and executing ideas. He is the founder of Ignite Phoenix and a co-founder of Improv AZ. I often refer to him as my partner in crime. (Note: We are partners in crime, not partners in life. I have no idea how his wife puts up with all of his puns.) Jeff is also a talented writer and has substantial knowledge about indie publishing. He and Evo Terra ran a company called ePublish Unum that helped indie authors (including me) write and release their books.

I told Jeff about my ideas to write two books next year, and he made the brilliant suggestion that instead of writing two comprehensive books, I could write several shorter ebooks where each one tackles a smaller subtopic within social media law. This would allow me to create and release more book-quality content throughout the year and delve into specialized topics for niche audiences. After releasing several of these short books, I could create a compilation of material from several books and release that as an ebook or in print (most likely print-on-demand).

This idea makes perfect sense for my ideas. I have been struggling with how I was going to fit so many different topics into two books – especially social media law for small businesses because there are so many different groups within that audience I want to help.

In listening to Jeff, my brain was already cranking out ideas – like using a similar cover design for each book, but in a different color, much like what ePublish Unum did with their books about indie publishing.

Originally, I thought I wanted a traditional publisher for my next books, but now I’m thinking of going back to my indie publishing roots. I will still have an editor and a graphic designer; and I may hire a company to format my books. But beyond that I can release my work myself, on a schedule that I set, with total autonomy regarding the topics I cover. And if I don’t have a traditional publisher, there will be no question or debate about who owns the copyright (me) and I can set my own prices. (Translation: I can charge less than what a traditional publisher would charge because I won’t have to share the profit with them.)

So now my next step is to decide what topics I want to cover in my next batch of work, and start figuring out how many e-books I will be writing next year as a result. I have a feeling this means I’m going to have a wall covered in sticky notes in the near future.

Preview for 2016: Back to the Writing Lifestyle

I feel the pull to write again, and not just blog posts – but books.

I’ve been mulling over some ideas for the last few weeks and I think I have at least two books that are starting to formulate and gel in my head.

This is going to be me in 2016 - 6:365, Photo by eren {sea+prairie} from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

This is going to be me in 2016 – 6:365, Photo by eren {sea+prairie} from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I love the writing process. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on my experience with my first big writing project. I was in graduate school and working with someone who lived on the other side of the country. So every night after I finished studying, I would work on our project and send him my latest draft or notes before going to bed. By the time I got up the next morning, he had read my work and sent me feedback which I would review over my morning coffee.

Getting back into writing books both excites and frightens me. When I wrote my first three books, I was at the beginning of my career as a lawyer and I had a lot more free time. I could easily devote half a day Monday-Friday working on a book. Typically, I created detailed outlines on Monday, wrote two chapters between Tuesday and Friday, and took the weekend off from book writing to write blog posts.

Now, I have a full client load and a busy speaking schedule. I am honestly not sure how I’m going to do this while staying in sane and making enough time to sleep. There is no way I can write 3,500 words a day with my current commitments. I will probably have to create a schedule where I only write 1,000 words each day, and still take the weekends off to rest and let ideas percolate.

Oh yes, there will be a writing schedule. Actually, one of the hardest things about working on these projects right now is I’m still trying to figure out what I want the final products to look like. Once a figure that out, I can work backwards to create an outline and from that a writing schedule so each week I will know what topics I need to cover.

The process for writing my last two books was insane. I signed two book contracts where I was committed to write both books over the course of six months. I remember finishing my first of those books on a Friday, sending the draft to my editor, and starting the next book on the following Monday. And while I was writing the second book, I also had to review edits on my first book. It was a crazy schedule, but I loved the creative process.

I suspect if I am going to pull this off, my life next year may have to be based on a strict schedule, possibly similar to my a lifestyle while I was studying for the bar exam. I may dabble with ideas of only responding to phone calls and emails during specific times and spending more time in seclusion, eliminating outside distractions to focus on my work.

Yes, I know writing books may be counterintuitive given that I was told to cut myself some slack or risk having a heart attack only a few weeks ago, but when I feel compelled to write I have to honor that. This idea has been gnawing at me for a few months now. And my history shows that when I’m creating, I’m often the most happy. Back when I was working on that first project, I was exhausted but also so exhilarated and excited to start and end my day writing and reviewing feedback. It never felt like work.