A long while ago I decided that I wanted to be a full-time writer. (I love the lifestyle, of not having a boss or having to commute or working regular hours). To achieve my goal I needed to treat writing as a full-time occupation, and to do this I needed to diversify and to be flexible. For a long time I took on whatever writing work I could, which included presenting publishing proposals and taking on writing commissions, usually for educational publishers. This meant writing fiction and non-fiction and writing in multiple genres. It meant writing every day, usually seven days a week while supplementing my income through schools’ performances and teaching writing. For the past 15 years I’ve made a living solely from writing (as has my husband, Bill), much of our income being supplemented by Lending Rights and CAL payments.
I would love to be a ‘branded’ author with a single publisher as this means increased sales when the author’s latest title results in backsales of previous titles. However, editors in publishing houses with whom I’ve established a relationship, have frequently moved to other publishing houses. Often one of my existing publishers doesn’t publish the genre in which I’ve written, or they haven’t wanted a subsequent title.
Crossing genres hasn’t created many problems for me. Of course I’ve been branded with the ‘too prolific’ tag, but that doesn’t particularly bother me. (A few prolific authors I know write under pseudonyms to avoid the stigma; one, for example, has won many CBCA awards.)
There is always a market for one’s manuscript, if the work is good enough for publication. It’s really a matter of finding the right publisher, not always an easy thing to do. For instance, for the past ten years or more I have looking for a publisher for my non-fiction series about amazing dogs, cats and horses; I know the work is publishable, and know that eventually it will find a publisher. One of my books was accepted by the 32nd publisher to whom I sent it! Another book, a YA novel, was taken by the 15th publisher and went on to sell overseas and to be short-listed in a state literary award.
If you want to succeed as an author you need a thick skin, incredible self-belief and determination, you need to be market savvy and100% professional. More than anything, though, you need to be persistent!