It’s a simple enough question: where should I concentrate my efforts? When a piece of writing – of whatever length – is completed, what do you tackle next? Should I write something else in the same vein, or take a brave leap into something completely different? Good idea? Bad idea? What is the best use of my time? It’s a difficult question to answer.
I was thrown into this dilemma myself the other day by the chance remark of a friend. He told me he had not only read all three of my Larus series of novels – he had read them all twice. High praise indeed. And was I planning to write any more, he wanted to know. My answer was that I had no plans to, at present. Not because I can’t, but because these books (dearly though I love them) achieved a success so very modest that they scarcely made a dent in the public consciousness. They sold a few copies and gained a few kind reviews is the best I can say of them. Why write more novels – an enormous commitment in time and effort – in a series nobody much wanted to read?
As it happens the publishing rights to all three books will be returned to me this year, and by early 2020 I will be free to do as I please with them. No-one can read them if they’re not out there, you say. True. I could self-publish them – even rattle off a fourth book, perhaps a novella, to add to the story. But to be realistic the likely outcome, unless there is a dramatic change in my promotional skills, is that they will all go and languish in the deathly lower reaches of the Amazon sales rankings. That’s a lot of effort on my part to achieve virtually nothing. Besides, I have a half-finished novel of real promise in another genre that I’d like to complete, as well as the writing and illustration for my shorter books that I’m hand-binding.
Should I give my lovely, funny Larus stories another chance, I wonder? Or set them aside, put it down to experience, and get on with something else? Just what is the best use of my time? It’s quite a dilemma, and I’m having a writing-free week next week to think about it. I’ll let you know what I decide.