Writing Career Goals and What’s Next From Team Hurley

After a relatively quiet 2018 (comparatively), this year is warming up to be a busy one, with THREE book releases and at least one, probably two Big Book deadlines, and ongoing Patreon story deadlines each month as I continue to build a legion of heroes on Patreon.

Here are the big new releases you can look forward to!

  • March 19: THE LIGHT BRIGADE. THREE starred reviews already! My time-traveling Starship Troopers with time travel novel.
  • July 21: MEET ME IN THE FUTURE: STORIES. My “best of” short story collection, featuring all your favorites from the last decade. Cover reveal soon.
  • November 19: THE BROKEN HEAVENS. The FINAL, CONCLUDING volume in the wickedly wonderful Worldbreaker Saga.

My focus, of course, isn’t just on promotion related to book releases but also finishing up NEW work. I have the rest of The Broken Heavens to finish this year, with a hard cut-off of March 1st if we want to get it out in time for the November date.

My next project is a LITTLE up in the air, still, as we are waiting on some contract paperwork for my Genderbent Die Hard in Space novel (I already have a title! But I’ll save that for the official announcement). If that falls through, I will likely be writing my next novel on spec (which means writing a whole novel but not having a contract for it), for either that or my Weird 80’s Murder Mystery novel. I’d like to line up a few more years of contracts, going forward, now that I’m nearly done with my second trilogy obligations.

I also plan to start work on repurposing a lot of my Patreon stories, getting them reprinted for a wider release and putting the older ones up as singles on Amazon. I don’t make much on self-pub titles, but that shit does add up. I’d also like to get back into more long-form blogging. Certainly, my time is better spent creating things than consuming them. The allure of so many social media sites has been that it’s a wonderfully passive way to feel as if one is “doing” something. Alas.

I’ve also put more time into the care and feeding of the Kameron Hurley Workshop, where I have signed books and paintings for sale. I’m always telling writers to diversify income streams, and while the store doesn’t bring in a ton of money (neither does my self-pub) I’m playing the long game here, and again  – it adds up over the long haul.

This focus on work means I’ve ratcheted back my travel plans for the second year in a row. As of right now, I’ll be at ConFusion in Detroit, MI later this month and POSSIBLY London Comic-Con in May (this was planned before the shake-up at the publisher sponsoring it, and I’m waiting to verify that this is still on). Aside from that, I’ll be doing my yearly family trip to ABQ, but that is IT.

Hunkering down and DOING THE WORK is my motto for 2019.

One of the things I was reminded while working on THE LIGHT BRIGADE earlier this year is that I honestly enjoy writing. I know, wild, huh? But in the wider world of publishing, it can be easy to lose sight of the work while getting tangled up in business and promo and sales concerns (oh my!). I cherish the times I’m able to shut out the publishing noise and just focus on the work itself. In the case of THE LIGHT BRIGADE, I think that really paid off.

Mid-career writers spend an awful lot of time complaining about publishing woes and less than we should, probably, about reinventing our careers, leveling up our craft, and writing a breakout novel (if that’s our goal). I found that setting a career goal early on helped me focus on projects and – most importantly – helped me say “no” to projects that didn’t fit with my overall career goal. I want to the absolute master at what I do; I want to change the world, I want to create a career legacy that outlasts me. If your longterm goal is relevance as opposed to quick money, that… can be demoralizing sometimes (you are always second-guessing your choices), but it does mean spending more time investing in a career and less in treating the novel writing like each one is a work for hire or freelancing opportunity. Instead, I view each book as building on the overall body of work; they are all in conversation with one another. I’m creating a body of work, not just singular titles.

That also means folks who come to my novels at any point and are fans of one book tend to really enjoy the others, too. That helps keep my backlist shuttling along (and keeps stuff like my God’s War novels still on the shelves after eight years!). Come for one, stay for the rest, because while they may be different genres and sub-genres, they are likely to all feature badass women (and no women are sexually assaulted!), morally gray choices, war and rebellion, and complicated frenemy situations compounded by incredibly dense and weird worldbuilding of the sentient plants, magic bugs, and parallel timelines variety. Basically, if you dig the shit I’m personally into, you will find that same shit in all my books – one way or another.

In talking with some other writers, I’ve pointed out the importance of career goals and project management, for me. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed out here, trying to just write something sells, or just some other random idea that pops into your head. Being strategic about my projects and career (and having an agent who is actively engaged in and involved in those discussions) has been a really vital part of coming back from overwork a few years back. I realized that my problem was I was churning out book after book expecting the “next” book to be the breakout book… and when it wasn’t – again, and again, and again – I realized I didn’t have anything left to get me to the next book.

It’s like that scene from Gattaca (which I LOVE, coincidentally) where the brothers are always competing to see who can swim the furthest, and the older brother asks the younger brother how he always won, and the younger brother says, “Because I never saved anything for the swim back.” This was my fucking MOTTO for YEARS and… alas, if you never start swimming back it turns out you do eventually drown. Ooops!

What I was starting to realize was that if I burned out all my energy swimming in early books, I wasn’t going to have the energy to keep going once I had, you know, become a technically more proficient swimmer. You need to know when you’re making progress and when you’re just allowing yourself to get strung out and exhausted. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.

So 2019 is the year we get back to basics. We write good books. Focus on launching these excellent titles. This year we don’t get distracted by bullshit. This year we become a more technically proficient swimmer, instead of JUST a persistent, bull-headed one.

Go team.

 

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