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Jake On Jake: Tighten The Timing Belt

Jake: So, Jake, I’m guessing you’ve been busy.

Jake: Why do you say that?

Jake: Because we have missed the past two Wednesdays and are releasing this chat on Thursday.

Jake: Oh, right, that.

Jake: Yes, that. So what’s up?

Jake: Just busy, like you said. And honestly? Between the writing, the podcast, Friday Night Drabble Party, and this post, I’m swamped.

Jake: And you have that pesky day job thingy.

Jake: Yep. Got that. Oh, and a family. They eat up some time too.

Jake: They do at that. But this discussion isn’t about how little time you have, is it?

Jake: No, it’s about timing. Not time.

Jake: ‘Splain.

Jake: There are lots of different timings. I could go into story structure and timing within a narrative.

Jake: But you won’t?

Jake: I shan’t.

Jake: You’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey.

Jake: Too much? I beg to differ, sir!

Jake: Get on with it.

Jake: Right, timing. No, the timing I want to talk about is the timing of what novel to work on when and when to release those novels. Or in that ballpark.

Jake: You have insight into this?

Jake: That’s the thing- I don’t know if I do. I have experience since I’ve published four novels and two collections. Not to mention the countless titles under my pen names.

Jake: Okay, what have you learned from this experience?

Jake: Strike while the fire’s hot. That’s one thing. If there is a trend and you want to be part of that trend then get to it ASAP. Don’t hang back and wait. Why? Because the trend will be over soon. Or other forces may be out there to end the relevance of that trend.

Jake: Example?

Jake: YA zombie lit. I just released Little Dead Man last November. But I wrote it almost two years earlier. I was responding to a hot trend of YA zombie novels being picked up and published. I had the novel banged out and done and sent out to agents in just two months. Bam!

Jake: But…?

Jake: But by the time I landed an agent (in just a month after sending submissions) many editors had moved on from the YA zombie genre. They liked the novel, loved the writing, but didn’t feel it was timed right for them. They were already looking for the next big thing.

Jake: So you released it on your own?

Jake: Only after a year of rejections and then letting it sit. I kept thinking someone would pick it up. Finally I realized I had a finished novel in hand and needed to get it out there.

Jake: How has it gone?

Jake: Slow, but good. Great responses from everyone that have read it. Enough good responses that I’ll write a sequel at least. I have a feeling that the timing may not be right for the first one, but get a couple more in the series out there and the timing could work out. Many YA series don’t see success until there are at least three books in the series. That’s when readers know it is there to stay.

Jake: Sounds good. What about this “other forces” thing?

Jake: Ah, yes, that. I have a couple pen names. One writes in a genre that was quite hot for self-publishers for several months. It was a gold rush in the true sense.

Jake: How do you mean?

Jake: Well, sales started going through the roof for a couple of us and then there were tons of writers that tried to get in on it. Good for them. The problem? The sales dried up. Why? Because readers moved on? No, not at all. It’s because Amazon changed the rules. They changed how titles were ranked and listed. They pushed out the self-publishers and gave top billing to traditional publishers. My sales went from through the roof to bottom of the basement overnight.

Jake: That’s an exaggeration.

Jake: No, actually it isn’t. Overnight my titles went from selling thousands of copies to selling only dozens. Literally the change happened overnight. Why? Because one day my titles were all over the Amazon best seller’s lists and the next they weren’t.

Jake: Bummer. How does that relate to timing?

Jake: Well, I was so wrapped up in the current trend that I didn’t look ahead to the next trend. Which was novels. Not short stories, but novels.

Jake: And your pen name didn’t have novels?

Jake: Nope. Just shorts. And once I saw the sales plummet I went back to focusing on my Jake Bible stuff. I figured I could build that up.

Jake: Did you?

Jake: To a certain extent. But the timing wasn’t quite there.

Jake: How about now?

Jake: With the release of Metal and Ash, and the subsequent podcast, the timing is back. I finished up the Apex Trilogy and can now promote that as a complete set. I can also use my podcast to promote all of my work.

Jake: But not your pen name stuff.

Jake: Maybe. If the timing is right I may hint at what some of those pen names are.

Jake: Okay. What else can you say about timing?

Jake: You have to not only look at the timing of trends, but at the timing of the constants.

Jake: Need more ‘splaining.

Jake: I am working on some romance novels at the moment.

Jake: Gasp!

Jake: No, it’s true. Why? Because there is one genre that is trend and recession proof: romance. And really, you can write romance in any genre. From scifi to horror to thriller.

Jake: To BDSM.

Jake: Exactly.

Jake: But isn’t the success of romance just a trend now? Like the whole 50 Shades thing?

Jake: The trends in romance are up and then back down to level. They don’t dip down below a certain threshold.

Jake: So what are you getting at?

Jake: That by diving into romance I can write all kinds of novels in many styles, but still have success.

Jake: And possibly strike gold when a new trend produces an upswing in sales for romance?

Jake: Precisely.

Jake: Sounds like you are mastering timing.

Jake: I am learning. The trick is to be prepared. By keeping at it in a proven successful genre such as romance I am bound to be a part of a major upswing in sales when the timing is right.

Jake: Kinda an opportunity knocks thing.

Jake: More of making sure you have a house built behind the door that gets knocked on.

Jake: Otherwise even if opportunity does knock you’ll have nothing to show for it?

Jake: Exactly.

Jake: Have you noticed that this discussion has gone from timing to being prepared for the right time?

Jake: I see them as the same thing. If you aren’t prepared then what success you do have with timing is just luck. If you are prepared then the success you have is not luck, but just hard work paying off.

Jake: An are you prepared?

Jake: Getting there. I plan to have three romance novels completed by the end of March. One is done and with my agent. If she doesn’t sell it then I will publish it myself.

Jake: So you don’t miss out on the timing.

Jake: Yep. The other novel I am in the middle of and will follow the same process of showing to my agent and if she can’t sell it then I publish it. The third novel is started, but on the shelf right now. As soon as I finish that one I think it’ll go straight to published. Maybe. Depends.

Jake: On?

Jake: The timing.

Jake: Smart ass.

Jake: I do try.

Jake: So how does all of this fit with the title of this discussion? Tighten the timing belt? How do you do that?

Jake: You write. And be ready. I’m not saying just write what you think will be a trend. You have to write what the muse tells you. My muse tends to have dollar signs tattooed on her, so I actively look for the trends and what I guess could be future trends. But if your muse isn’t a moneygrubbing whore then write what you want. But keep writing. Make sure you have a body of work ready to go when needed.

Jake: Isn’t that what all writers do?

Jake: Sadly, no. Too many writers finish their novel and then focus on that. And they wait for it to be successful. In my opinion that is not a strategy for success. Finish that bitch and move on to the next project. Do not rest. I learned that the hard way. You want to be a successful writer? The only way to do that is to write!

Jake: So that when the timing is right you have something waiting.

Jake: Exactly.

Jake: Good talk, as always.

Jake: Yep.

Jake: Cheers!

Jake: Have a good one, my friend.

Jake Bible hasn’t stopped writing for two straight years. He will chill out and relax at some point. When the timing is right.

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