88 Books in 20 Months: How a Bestselling Romance Writer Cranks Out Her Books

Laurie Starkey, authorLaurie Starkey is an indie author dynamo. She’s written 88 works of fiction in 20 months. Thirty of those 88 books were created as a ghostwriter. The other 50, she wrote and produced under several pen names, including Ali Parker, Kate Thomas and L. A. Starkey.

Starkey writes in the Young Adult, paranormal New Adult, Erotica and Romance categories, and her highest sales are Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance and Romantic Suspense novels.

I spoke with Starkey about her marketing strategies and production schedule.

This is part two in a two-part series. You can read part one here.

BB: Laurie, how did you get started as an indie author?

LS: I am actually a CPA, so I’m very left-brained. I moved into this new right-brain life because I am creative and there’s a side of me that wants to tell a good story and instill hope in people.

BB: How do you balance your business side and your creative side?

LS: I would say I’m 80-percent entrepreneur and 20-percent artist. It’s been really cool to have my left and right brain so integrated. I can set up my story with my left brain so that when it’s time to write, I shut down my left brain completely and I’m 100-percent artist.

I have piano music playing in the background while I’m writing. I am comfortable as an artist because I have created a structure around myself as an entrepreneur.

I create a sandbox by setting up my plot, pre-planning my characters, thinking through high-level plot points. All of the painful structure points are put together so that when I sit down and put myself in creative mode, which I call a sandbox. It’s like I get to go and throw sand around and have a good time. But the minute the story is done and I close it down, I go back to being that 100-percent entrepreneur.

BB: Are you saying that setting up plot and characters and the structure is your business time, not creative time?

LS: It’s not like my business side can create a plot. But I’m very structured in the way that I do it. I have a method to my madness that I have put together. For me, honestly, it’s all very business-like until I sit down to write, and then it’s like an exhale. A collective exhale happens. Then I can write. And I binge-write. I know most people like to write for two hours in the morning. I don’t. I write for two or three days and write a novel and I’m done with it.

BB: What happens in the rest of your life during those two or three days?

LS: I still get up and make dinner and do all of those things, because I write in 10,000-word segments. I will write 10,000 words, and then I will get up and spend a half hour making dinner or playing with my kids or exercising.

A 10,000-word segment is three and a half hours for me. If I have to write a 50,000-word novel, then I know it will take five of those segments. I know that is going to take three really comfortable days or two painful days. So I will do the three and a half hours, and then I will get up and do something to kind of refresh myself.

BB: This sounds like a natural thing for you, but it’s so different than anything I have ever heard. Where did it come from?

LS: When you want something bad enough, you will figure out a way to make it happen. I am very much a businessperson. I’m just lucky that I am creative, too, because I needed an asset to sell and I wanted to tell stories. So I lock those three days off and spend the rest of the week on business and marketing.

BB: Do you ever get worn out?

LS: When I’m tired or my left brain is like, “Go take a nap,” my whys kick in. I ask myself, “Why are you doing this? Why do you care so much about this?”

BB: Can you talk about some of those “whys?”

LS: The first “why” is I want to show my daughters that you can do anything that you put your mind to as long as you put your heart behind it and work your butt off. There is an opportunity cost. You are going to have to miss out on a few things. But if you want this thing bad enough, it is absolutely possible.

I didn’t write 88 books in 20 months so much to get anybody’s attention, but because I wanted prove to myself I am capable of so much more than I have ever gotten the opportunity to do in a corporate job.

Another reason that drives me forward is to make sure that I have enough abundance to take care of my parents in retirement, too. When you put your heart in it and you go after it, there is nothing that you can’t do. The human spirit is unstoppable when you back it up with wanting to do it.

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