Why “Fiction”? – 2021 Edition

I’m updating the original posts in this site, to reflect some of the massive changes we authors have faced in the last four years.

Today I’m looking at ‘Why “Fiction”?’, which was published in December 2017 and can be found here on the site.


From the original post:

A non-fiction author’s sustainable writing practice looks quite a bit different from a fiction author’s.

Both authors must build concepts, research their books, outline them and write them.

However, non-fiction is usually quite short while novels frequently wend their way toward the 100K word mark.  That puts pressure on any production schedule.

I lifted my brow at this one.  100,000 words for indie fiction novels…I’m not sure anyone is using that as their benchmark anymore. 

Most of my books come in around 70,000 to 80,000, and sometimes less.  The commonly accepted low-end of the range for a novel is 43,000 words, and anything above 100,000 is considered “super-sized”. 

I suspect that only traditional publishers consider 100K novels as “standard”, these days.

I write whole series of stories in novelette length (7,500 to 17,500 words), and have received plenty of feedback from readers that they love the short, fast reads, especially if the novelettes are written in series, with story arcs stretching over the series.

But this is just my experience.  Depending on your chosen genre—and classic fantasy is the first one that springs to mind—you might feel that 100,000 is short.

As the point of this article is to explain why the site leans almost purely toward a fiction writer’s perspective, what length your stories are isn’t really a factor in this discussion—except that if you’re writing short, you’re probably also writing more titles than your classic fantasy brethren. 

As always, the measure is unique to you and your business.  And no matter what that measure is, there’s a mild pressure there to keep producing.

While non-fiction authors know exactly how useful their book will be, and how big their audience is (or they should if they did their homework before starting to write), fiction authors have to deal with doubt concerning the reception of their story, which can hamper productivity.

Still true today.  Even more so, if you don’t have a good grip on discoverability and a solid platform to use to reach out to readers.

The doubts and worries and fears that fiction authors bring to their desks are of a different shade to a non-fiction author’s concerns.  Worry and fear are Resistance’s tools.  They strengthen Resistance, and derail your best intentions.

Oh, so true!  Even more so, these days, with a saturated marketplace.  The easy sales are a thing of the past.  Now, more than ever, the next book you release is what helps sell the previous ones. 

I have written a small amount of non-fiction in my career, compared to my fiction output.  I am very familiar with the challenges facing a fiction author.

For that reason, I narrowed the scope of this site to focus only upon fiction authors.

And this core fact remains in place.  99.9% of the non-fiction I write appears on this site, which makes it a very narrow niche.  I write based upon my own experience as a fiction author.

The number of published, currently active indie fiction authors increases every year.  Every author must figure out for themselves how to maximise their time and produce books.

It isn’t a one-time process, either.  Every year, every quarter, every month, the indie publishing changes — often in only small ways, but sometimes in seismic shifts that send everyone staggering (e.g.: The closure of Pronoun, Amazon algorithm changes and more).

You have to be nimble and learn how to pivot regularly, to keep up. These changes impact the indie fiction writer, their processes and productivity.

And this is also still true of the current indie publishing scene. 

In the last four years, the seismic shifts have included the emergence of PublishDrive, fiction apps exploding in popularity, Amazon’s launching of Vella, audio book subscription services, Kobo’s Kobo Plus subscription model for ebooks, and millions more fiction titles hitting the virtual bookshelves, adding pressure to claw for visibility.

There have been hundreds of smaller changes and shifts, all which require research and business decisions, implementation and testing…all which take time away from writing fiction.

The challenges of remaining productive and effective are many and ongoing for indie fiction writers.

This also remains a constant. 

While I speak from experience based almost completely in the writing of fiction, if you’re primarily a non-fiction indie author, there is still a lot of benefit to be found here.

Especially, since starting the PIFW blog, I’ve found that identifying myself as “purely” a fiction author results in biased thinking.  The opportunities for indie authors are legion, these days.  My revenue is primarily from writing fiction, but I also earn income from curating and editing anthologies, running a micro family press, participating in book bundles, and the sale of short fiction to pro markets—yes, traditional publishing, but in the magazine market.  I also coach other authors.  In the future, I’ll be looking at profoundly “traditional” forms of revenue, including writer-in-residence gigs, and paid speaking engagements.

I know of other indie fiction authors who are embracing the fiction app market with gusto, or building their income coordinating author-cooperative anthologies and boxed sets.  Yet others who have switched to writing and producing serials while the wave of “new” lasts.   Many others are switching the genre they write in, or developing new pen names. 

Or they’re adding non-fiction to their portfolio – memoirs, how-tos, self-help, histories, and more.

I still consider myself primarily a fiction author, which means there’s even more pressure to preserve my writing time and word count.   And if this is my experience, these days, it is surely yours, too.

If you write fiction and consider it to be your primary field, then everything on the site has potential benefit for you, as you try to earn income in this chaotic, patchwork state of the industry.


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