A Month in the Garden

This is a big year for me in terms of milestones. I had a big birthday, though we won’t specify which one. 🙂 I also celebrated thirty years since selling my first book to a publisher and ten years since going indie and becoming my own publisher. I usually rearrange my office and sort my research books in these moments of reassessment, but I knew this reset had to be bigger.

Some of these changes began last year. I enrolled all of my historical romances in KDP Select last fall, and then my paranormal romances earlier this year. I have mixed feelings about having all those eggs in one basket, so to speak, but there are benefits. When I have an update (like the change to my newsletter service) I only have to upload revised files to one portal instead of seven. That saves an enormous amount of time.

Going forward, the plan is to gradually move both suites of work to wide distribution again. Now that I’ve had a few months to catch my breath, I’ll update the interiors as they’re republished at the other portals. My historical romance backlist will start to go wide in September and my PNR will begin to leave KU at the end of October.

I’ve also amalgamated my websites and changed newsletter services this year. Once that was done, I took a hard look at my plans and began to prune them back. I love to do all of the things, but there was just too much on my plate. I cancelled some pre-orders and some contracts for subsidiary rights then headed out to the garden for the month of May. I still had publishing and promotion tasks to finish but I didn’t write for that month.

I needed to make a new plan.

I love my garden and it is extensive. In recent years, I’ve neglected it a bit, because I’ve been working so many hours. It was a delight to focus upon it for an entire month and just think. I made lists, because that’s what I do, of what I was happy about and unhappy about, what gave me stress and what triggered my stress. I listed what I cherished in my life and what I missed, what I wanted to do and accomplish, what was in need of more attention. I began to identify places where I could make changes about all of those things. I also weeded and moved plants, reorganizing the garden as I sorted my thoughts. It was a wonderful break, and one that was overdue.

As a result of my month in the garden, a lot of things are changing in my life right now and for the better. The garden looks better, too!

I made some choices about my work schedule. I want to enjoy my garden and my house. I want to have space in my schedule to craft and to cook. I won’t bore you with the personal choices I made, but I’m feeling much better and more positive than I was earlier this year. Again, as much as I want to write all the things, it makes sense to focus – algorithms favor strong branding and regular publication.

It was time to think like a publisher. If I’m going to write books, I should choose to write books that will perform best in the market and deliver the strongest results. Which of my brands would be the current best choice? A hard look at the market reveals that I’m not delivering content that fits what’s hot in any of my three favored subgenres. Contemporary romance is skewing to darker sexier romances, with the alternative being the other end of the spectrum, sweet often-small-town romances and/or romantic comedies. I don’t particularly want to write either, so it made no sense to launch a new contemporary romance series right now. (Sorry, Aidan.) Paranormal romance is also darker right now with more fantasy elements and a lot more sex. As much as I love my dragon shifter heroes, that isn’t where I want to take them. Arach and even Sebastian will have to wait.

Markets change all the time and the trick is to choose the project most likely to succeed in the foreseeable future. I’m lucky to be able to write in multiple sub-genres, but I knew I needed to choose one brand instead of trying to do it all.

The curious thing is that my historical romance alter-ego has the strongest SEO. This always surprises me since Claire Delacroix’s career ended in 2005 in traditional publishing (which was why I moved on to other sub-genres) but she was reborn with a vengeance in indie and digital just six years later. I decided several years ago to create a new medieval romance series, Blood Brothers, that I hoped would appeal to the current market of historical romance readers. Histrom has always skewed to sexy Regency romances and to Scottish settings – my first love is the Middle Ages but I’ve sent my knights to Scotland before and I knew I could do it again. That series is performing well, the best of all my current series. So, by the time I came out of the garden, I had decided to focus on Delacroix historical romances for the next year. That also gave me the room in my schedule to add a new Regency romance series so that Claire has new releases more often. We’ll see where a more consistent publication schedule takes that brand.

I’ll revisit all of this next May in the garden, but histrom for a year is the current plan. That means things will be quieter on this site.

I’ll post a partial schedule on Claire’s blog tomorrow. 🙂