The first week of my writing accountability challenge is over, and it successfully kicks off the month of June.

My goal for this week was to finish creating an online presence and start more in-depth market research—more on that later. No plotting yet, although ideas are swirling and getting written down, but right now, I am making no decisions.

For context, here’s a little background of where I am in the process of creating the series:

I finished the first draft of Fateweaver book 1 back in November 2015. By July 2016, I had a second draft, third by November of that same year, and after that I’ve been partially revising and rewriting the thing, keeping some parts and the majority of the plot the same, but never settling on a final version of…pretty much anything in it.

It feels like a behemoth of a book after I’ve gone through it so many times, and coupled with the work burnout that started in 2018, it’s no surprise that I never finished it. Now I want to breathe new life into it, and it will be a challenge, since I’m not yet sure how much of it I’ll change, but the core of the story will certainly remain the same. Some of the things I had issues with back then were pinning down the main character, finalizing the magic system and worldbuilding, and deciding on subgenres, as I was torn between a few different options.

(Of course, there was also the issue of having no idea what I was doing just craft-wise, but whether that’s improved and by how much remains to be seen.)

During the time when I couldn’t deal with rewriting Fateweaver 1, I had (largely) plotted out Fateweaver 2 and had a vague plan for the rest of the series. But I couldn’t decide how many books I wanted it to be, and thus how much to “complicate” the world, which are all issues I’m going to be tackling once I complete the market research.

Why Market Research?

When I first started writing and had the idea for what would become Fateweaver, I knew nothing about the book market. I was 16, and enjoying fantasy classics, and thinking my story premise was pretty original. Years later, in my early 20s when I figured out I wanted to be an author, I took a couple of old short stories, mashed them together, and that became the first draft of Fateweaver 1.

Naturally, I wanted it to be a success, so I sat on it for a while and started researching the market, target audience, all that jazz. (I was just starting out as a content writer, too, so I already knew how important it was to target your product well.) I took a few courses—the most notable and helpful one being Rebecca Hamilton’s Publishing Mastermind Course.

I realized the first draft had no target audience; it wouldn’t do well. So I looked at some of the elements it already had that were popular with readers at the time, like the fact that it was fairytale-inspired in part, and during revisions, I tried to beef up those elements.

But I sat on it too long without finishing it, and we’re now in 2022—the market has changed a lot since then, and what readers yearned for then isn’t what they yearn for now. For example, it’s hard to find a portal fantasy now (which is what Fateweaver 1 technically is) that isn’t isekai or LitRPG. They’re pretty popular subgenres, but not what I want to write, so I have to look at the other elements of my story that I can develop more, which would place the books into the hands of readers that would love them.

On the other end of chart success, there are romantic fantasy books. Some of them I’ve read and not fallen in love with, although the idea of romantic fantasy does appeal to me—Fateweaver 1 did have romantic subplots in every iteration. Ideally, they would remain subplots, but if readers want more romance in their fantasy books now, that’s something I can easily give them.

Hence, market research. I got a bunch of fantasy romance books this week, and I’ll be reading through them and noting the commonalities: the tropes they use, the level of romance, how in-depth the worldbuilding goes, whether they have soft or hard magic systems, whether the core of the story is the romance or the epic quest, etc. and I’ll see how close my current ideas are to what readers like.

Once market research is done, it will guide my plotting process and inform my decisions, which will in turn ensure that the writing itself goes as smoothly as possible.

And, hopefully, that the books will sell. Because that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

52 Weeks of Accountability – Week One

As I previously mentioned, this week I started market research and wrapped up establishing an online presence. I already had the main social media accounts, but now I also set up author profiles on Goodreads and Bookbub—feel free to follow me there!

I’ve got a list of about 15 books to read, and it might grow some more, so the market research portion might take me until the end of the month. Thankfully, I devour books when I make the time for them, so by the end of next week I hope to have read the series I’m starting with, Shadows and Crowns. I chose it because it seems to be very close to the style of Fateweaver 1 and it might be a good guide on reader expectations for the genre.

I’m also planning to go through the first part of the aforementioned Publishing Mastermind, as it will help lead me through the market research and nailing the series premise once and for all. And I’m workshopping my first book, Halfblood’s Destiny, through the Rapid Royalty Fix course, which aims to organically increase sales without advertising. (I think I’ve already put my best foot forward with this book and that the issue is that sword and sorcery without romance and an established reader base is generally a hard sell, but I might have messed up the keywords or categories or any of the million things you can mess up when publishing your first book, so it definitely doesn’t hurt to workshop it anyway.)

Week Two Plan

The goal for next week is to finish reading the Shadows and Crowns books and to complete workshopping Halfblood’s Destiny so I have time to go through Publishing Mastermind again.

If you’re joining me, now’s your turn: what have you accomplished this week, and what do you hope to accomplish next week? If that’s too short of a deadline for you, how about this month? Tell me what you’re working on and what your goals are.

And if you’re just following along, say hi—I’d love to hear from you! Have you read any of the books I mentioned, and what were your impressions? Any recommendations?