Why I Unpublished My Novel

I’m back! I’ve been busy with work and school the last year, and I’ve taken some time away from this site to think about what I want as a writer. Putting my work out there scares me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

I published my first book shortly out of college for all the wrong reasons. I was unemployed, I had just quit a graduate program that I wasn’t suited for, and I was desperate to make money. Not to mention that I had been reading too many cozy mysteries and thought I could put my own whimsical spin on a light mystery. Whenever I told anyone about that book, I always felt like I had to say, “It’s not a serious story at all.” It was my way of telling them not to take it seriously. While I had fun writing it, I didn’t put in as much work as I should have.

I finished Volume 1 of the series I’m currently working on in October 2016 and promptly published it, under a pen name this time. It wasn’t that I wasn’t proud of it that I didn’t use my real name. My main reasons for doing so were because I was worried about how it might affect the possibility of my finding a “professional” job once I’m done with my degree. Besides, if my acquaintances didn’t know I had written another book, I couldn’t be upset when no one bought it.

I have since taken Volume 1 off the market. I want to finish writing the entire series before I publish any of the books. For that matter, I’m not sure if I will or not. All I know is that it’s not ready to be labeled as a final product. I have a lot of work left to do on developing the magic system. I’m more comfortable sharing a work in progress because even though people are going to make some kind of judgments on what they’re reading, I assume that they all know it’s subject to change and could improve yet. It’s just something I need to tell myself.

This series has been the first thing on my mind ever since I started it in 2014, even before I created the character of John Mazentius. In the first draft, dated July 2014, Aberdeen Scotland was a library school dropout who gets involved with a society of people with supernatural powers when one of them accidentally transfers some of his power to her. These characters are my closest friends. I can make them do anything I want. They’ve beheaded, poisoned, and shot each other, and yet they still live–in more ways than one, when you think about the fact that my series is about immortality.

Originally, I began this blog as a way to document the progress of trying to write a 50,000-word novel every month for a year. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year since 2009, and I’d read a few other blogs written by people doing the 12 novels in 12 months thing and thought I could do it too. What I’ve realized is that while I expect this series to have 12 novels eventually (6 that tell the main arc of the story and 6 unrelated adventures), my priority for now is to finish Volumes 1 through 6 and make them the best they can be. At the same time, I need to learn where to draw the line between endlessly tinkering with wording and minor details and learning to call something done.

At the end of 2017, my total word count for the series was 319,207:

  • Volume 1: 72,173 words
  • Volume 2: 66,537 words
  • Volume 3: 45,057 words
  • Volume 4: 50,154 words
  • Volume 5: 51,565 words
  • Volume 6: 33,721 words

If the average page has 250 words, that comes out to almost 1,277 pages. This is a massive project, and I want to be able to share parts of it, even if the project as a whole isn’t ready. I’m interested in the creative process and want to share details of my writing life because I’ve gotten so much enjoyment from hearing about other writers’ processes. While I do have monthly goals I want to reach with my writing, I don’t want to feel like I failed because I haven’t met that month’s goal. All I can promise is that I’m going to work my hardest.

I write because I love my book world. It’s not about making money from it. Besides, if I’m going to put something on the market, it had better be something that I completely believe is worth the money. As much as I love Volume 1, it could be better. Maybe at some point, I’ll release it again, but for now, I have more work to do.


One thought on “Why I Unpublished My Novel”

  1. I admire your outlook, Michelle. I agree that you shouldn’t write purely to make money but, for me, one of the joys of writing is being read afterwards. With writing a whole series before publishing it, one of the great things is being able to add subtle foreshadowing to distant events in the early books. Only a few readers will likely pick those cues up, but it’s a great feeling when they do. Best of luck with your writing 🙂


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