Happy New Year Bloglandia!!
If you’re reading this, that’s a good sign that you aren’t still blind drunk from last night. And that your hangover headache isn’t too excruciating. So congrats! Excellent start to 2020, right?
As you can see, Finn McSpool may have overindulged last night. Luckily, while he’s sleeping it off, I can sneak in a blog post without him pestering me for attention.
It’s that time of year for me (and half the Internet) to take a look back at what I’ve achieved in 2019 and what wild dreams I hope to fulfill in 2020. I’ll save the 2020 Dreams for my next post, but this post is all about my 2019 Writing Goals vs Reality.
Or as I like to put it, “Did I win 2019?”
I had seven main goals for 2019, ranging from publishing a gob of books, to writing new stuff, to various business activities.
Let’s get the statistics out of the way first…
Goal #1 – Boost My Numbers
One “number” goal in 2019 was to double my 2018 book sales. Sorry, I need a moment to laugh at that lofty dream.
I didn’t double my sales, but by November, I had exceeded my 2018 sales, so YAY! Overall, I ended up with a 31% increase in sales (and a 38% increase in my free book “sales”) as well as nearly doubling my royalty income.
In a year when many authors say they’ve seen declining book sales, I have to take any increase as a big win.
Another number was to double my mailing list subscribers. I nailed this early on, and even after a couple purges of deadweight (people not opening my emails), I’ve still got three times the subscribers I had at the start of 2018.
The final number goal was to double my Bookbub followers. I have no idea how, but I slapped this goal upside the face by the end of February. I not only met the goal, but quintupled it and now have five times the number of Bookbub followers than I did last year at this time.
Goal #2 Publish seven books.
Nailed it!! Between the months of January to May, I published one part of the Domna serial every four weeks (for a total of six books).
The big win on this one – since I’ve never had much luck with pre-orders in the past – was actually seeing a fair number of pre-orders coming in for each part.
If you want to try out the series, you can pick up Part One: The Sun God’s Daughter for FREE at most major retailers (hint hint).
Goal #3 Write and prepare a new trilogy for publication.
This goal…not so much. But there is a reason for that. No, the dog did not eat my homework.
I started this project (a zombie-filled, magical realism, mystery adventure) in 2018 and worked on draft two last winter. The trilogy is eagerly waiting for its next draft, but the business side of my writer brain started nagging at me to finish The Osteria Chronicles.
There was A LOT of resistance to work on these final two books of the series. I did have a rough draft ready to go, but my zombies were calling. Finally, I decided I would be happier (and my readers would be too) if I finished up one series before starting another.
Over the year I’ve worked on both of these books simultaneously…which did prove to be a huge nightmare at times. Now, I have only one more read through to make sure everything is formatted and proofed. YAY!!!
So, while my zombies didn’t get brought fully to life, I’ve got two books in the publication cannon ready to be shot off very soon.
Goal #4 Business Matters
In 2019, I had some business matters that needed tending to.
First, I wanted to reformat all my print books to give them a more polished and professional look. Done and done!! I have to say I’ve now got some mighty fine interior files.
Second, I wanted to rewrite my mailing list welcome sequence (the series of emails in which I introduce myself to new subscribers). The original was clunky and way too long. I fixed it up and, less than a couple weeks later, Mailchimp pulled the rug out from under many of its customer’s feet.
It turned out to be for the best because, not only do I LOVE my new mailing list provider (Mailerlite), but I was forced to craft a whole new sequence that I’m super happy with.
Goal #5 Publish my paperbacks through Ingram Spark
Mark this one up to a big FAIL.
I currently have my paperbacks published through Amazon. Unfortunately, many libraries and the vast majority of bookstores will not purchase books through Amazon (mainly due to Amazon’s lack of discounting and returns).
There’s plenty of hoops to jump through to get your book loaded onto Ingram Spark and I absolutely hate their policy of charging to make any changes to the book (since I prefer keeping my books fully updated), but the monster who really killed this goal is Bowker – the ISBN supplier for the US.
While ISBNs are free in Canada and cost a mere £10 in the UK, ISBNs in the US run about $100 each (you can get a discount if you buy in bulk, but it’s still a HUGE investment).
Since the likelihood of my print books getting into bookstores is pretty low, this just didn’t seem like a sound use of my business budget. I’m still looking into other options, but if anyone in Canada wants to “steal” me some ISBNs, I wouldn’t mind!!
Goal #6 Start a Patreon account or my own online store
Let’s face it, I’m lazy and the more I looked into Patreon, the more it sounded like a hell of a lot of work. It also seemed painfully confusing to set up.
However, thanks to the fine folks at BookFunnel, I learned about Payhip and was able to set up my own shop so people could buy my books (at a discount) directly through me.
There was a minor glitch with Paypal not accepting foreign payments, but one of my readers was a willing guinea pig and helped me sort it out (along with a super helpful agent at Paypal).
I have to give a big shout out here to Payhip. Throughout everything their customer service has always been spot on, incredibly friendly, and always responsive to even the stupidest requests for help. And the whole system is easy to work with.
Payhip is definitely a winner for 2019!!!
Goal #7 Write one short story per month
Now that I had my own shop, I needed something to put in it!
I almost nailed this goal. The Big Health Scare in August threw me for a loop, vacation in October stole away from any extra writing time, and well, I got lazy in November and December.
However, I did publish a story every month on my store and I got several stories accepted for publication this year (some older ones, some new ones). So while this goal wasn’t entirely filled, I’m more than happy with my end results.
So Did I Win 2019?
For the most part, I’m going to say that I’m proud of how 2019 turned out.
I feel like I treated my writing more as a business than I have in the past and have really buckled down with completing projects, keeping things looking as professional as possible, and planning ahead.
There have been a few times this year I’ve felt overwhelmed and completely frustrated (okay, more than a few). But rather than getting down about setbacks, I’ve tried to figure out a workaround, take a step back to evaluate what needs done, then, with new plan in hand, charge on ahead.
Most of all, I’m looking forward to a productive 2020! Maybe this is the year I double those sales numbers – hahahahaha!!! Or maybe I’ll just join Finn for a drink. Finn? Oops, too late…
Phew, this post has gone insanely long. Hopefully you still have the time and energy to tell me whether your 2019 was a win or a dud. What big goals did you achieve? What goals slipped by?
I’ll be back next week when I finally get to reveal my writing plans for 2020! So exciting!!!
If you’ve resolved to read more in 2020, you might want to browse this amazing promotion featuring over 60 books. Some titles are free, others are paid, but all are centered around those pesky, powerful, and sometimes sexy gods and goddess. Have fun browsing!!