The Learning Curve by Barbara Winkes

InitiationsWhen I did my first interviews for blogs, a returning question was: What advice would you give new writers? I was always hesitant, because, after all, what did I know? It’s been a little over five years since the release of my first book, Autumn Leaves, and I am more confident now that I know some things.

Let’s start with the easy part—the writing. Yes, I know there are and will be days when you aren’t happy with your progress, the characters, or anything for that matter, but this is still the area where you have the most control. It’s entirely up to you to make room in your daily schedule. It doesn’t matter where—you have to find it and develop a routine. It does work.

Skip forward to the moment when you have turned your idea into a product. This is where you’ll make decisions that potentially define the next few years. It’s especially important to figure out what you want at this point. Knowledge is power. I signed with a small press in 2012, went hybrid at the end of 2014 and am now completely indie. This is my path so far. It could be yours, or it could be completely different.

Another thing you have to be aware of is that the landscape will be changing quickly and often, without warning. That can be a good thing. You won’t always be prepared for it, but if you generally take into account that it does happen, you’ll be better equipped to react. Take for example Kindle Unlimited—this is a hot topic for some authors, others love it. If you put a book in the program, you have to leave it there for ninety days at least. That’s plenty of time to figure out if it is right for you. Again, what is often lost in potentially heated conversations on the internet is that there are hardly any one-size-fits-all solutions. This is your art, but it’s also your business. Take a look at the numbers, evaluate, re-evaluate.

Another consideration is the genre of your book(s). Romance sells more. It really does. That doesn’t mean you have to try and twist your sci-fi spy novel into something it is not—it just helps to be aware of general trends that are true in both lesfic and the big general mainstream (I’m not all that happy with those distinctions, because I think lesbian fiction can be mainstream, while books written by straight folks might be more on the edges of the bell curve). I have written romance, though usually it’s more on the drama/suspense side, which is where I feel most at home as a reader. And it’s in that genre that I developed my love for serial characters. Those are the most challenging to me, but also the most rewarding—you get to spend more time with your imaginary friends, when you can follow them around for more than one book. I have currently three series, two of which are still in progress: The 4th and last book in the Callie & Rebecca series was just released, #5 for Jayce & Emma (romantic suspense) is coming sometime later this year, and there are two Carpenter/Harding thrillers a year. And speaking of which—#5, Initiations, will be out soon.

Lastly, I am still learning, and you will too, even after a few years in the game. One of the things I know for sure is that it’s always great to come back to Women and Words, because the ladies who run it, and the readers, are awesome! Thank you for having me.

You can now pre-order Initiations here or start at the beginning with Indiscretions.



  1. Great post Barbara with some really important points. What works for one of us, doesn’t work for all; you’re exactly right. “Evaluate, evaluate” is an excellent piece of advice. So often I see other authors, indies like us, who are afraid to test the waters outside of Kindle Unlimited or who do but only give it a month and then scurry back to the big river and ‘safety’. I see many who want to write romance because it sells best who don’t realize that there’s a fan base for everything and, yes, you can weave romance through the plot of any genre.

    Personally, my lesfic romance work is read by lesbians only with very few exceptions. My lesfic mysteries that are laced with romance? They’ve taken longer to catch on with a lesbian audience geared toward romance when they read lesfic but they are catching on. What’s more interesting is the books are catching mainstream readers who don’t mind and/or are intrigued by the lesbian story line. Most don’t typically cross over and read the romance but a few have. It all starts with one. Write what you want to read. The readers will find you. A drop turns into a trickle, turns into a stream and, one day, a river


  2. Well written, nice and clear advice. I had no idea that romance sold most of all, really. I did know that routine helped get the writing done, and I have especially found that having a steady word goal per day helps me notice how much I’ve done, and get where I want to.


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