It’s that time of year again when I look back at past and future goals. Okay, well, I’m about a week late with this, but close enough.
Before I glance back at what goals I did and didn’t meet in 2020, and glance forward to my plans for 2021, please know that I’m still looking for people willing to read and review a free copy of my upcoming book The Undead Mr Tenpenny. If you’re interested or curious, please visit THIS POST for the details and how to get involved.
Alrighty then, onto the goals…
My Goals for the Wacky Year of 2020
My 2020 goals included many little “business” type things, but my main creative hopes and dreams were to….
- Publish one “book” each month (by “book” I meant both full novels and short stories)
- Start a book-centric podcast
- Write and have ready for publication all three books in The Cassie Black Trilogy
- Increase sales and royalties by 50%
- Update the covers on Domna and The Osteria Chronicles
So how did I do? Not too shabby as it turns out.
- In September I updated the covers on my Domna books, then in December I narrowly met my goal and slapped new covers on all the books in The Osteria Chronicles. You can see the results HERE and HERE.
- I did start The Book Owl Podcast. I intended to put out the first episode in January or February 2020, but I got a little hung up on a few details, so I didn’t get that first episode ready until May.
Unfortunately, this was also right around the time when half the world started a podcast to alleviate their pandemic boredom. Ah well, it’s been great fun and I really have been enjoying the process, for the most part.
- Publish a book a month? Not so much, but with reason.
The first reason was because I planned to put out the first two books of my Cassie Black Trilogy in the fall. But the pandemic delayed trad publishers’ spring schedules, which meant they’d be swamping the market with their releases in the fall.
I had no desire to compete with that inundation, so I adjusted my plans and delayed my major releases until 2021.
This turned out to be the best decision possible. Being forced to delay the release and working on all three books has allowed me to make the trilogy far more cohesive and consistent than it would have been otherwise.
The other reason for abandoning this goal was discovering that, unless they’re free, short stories really don’t sell well on Amazon, Kobo, etc.
So, after putting out three short stories on the big sites, I gave up on it and simply published them on my Payhip Bookstore where they have been selling quite well. So, goal semi-met.
- Complete all three books of the Cassie Black Trilogy. Again, see above. I’m not seeing this as a failed goal because not meeting it has resulted in much better stories. I am however, super close to completing the final book, so I didn’t miss the goal by much.
This “failure” also taught me a better method of working on my books, which is possibly my biggest win of 2020.
Rather than rush through drafts just to knock something off my to-do list, I began taking more time with the drafts. They’ve been coming out much cleaner and are requiring much less re-writing, which means I actually might complete my manuscripts faster than ever before. So, slowing down = speeding up…weird.
- Increase sales and royalties by 50%. Argghhh…so close!!! I increased both by 30%. I’m happy enough with this, but want to do so much better.
Still, this increase came about by spending less on marketing and spending far less time on social media, so double win!
Most of my sales, as is to be expected, came from Amazon, but at 20% of sales, Apple was a HUGE player for me this year as were sales to libraries via Overdrive. Kobo started out strong, but my sales sort of floundered there toward the end of the year.
- The biggest surprise was having over 2% of my sales come from my Payhip Bookstore.
This is especially happy news because not only do I keep about 80-90% of the sales price (as opposed to the 35-70% I get from the big retailers), but I also get that money within 24 hours of the sale being made (as opposed to 60 days later with most of the other stores).
Goals & Plans for 2021
This looks like a huge list, but I’m actually planning on trying to work a little less hard this year (since I’ve completely forgotten what a weekend is after a year of working almost non-stop)
- Continue the podcast – I’ve paid for the web hosting until 2022, so I might as well keep on recording. I’ll be evaluating this more toward the end of the year.
- Publish the second Osteria Chronicles Box Set (Books 4 – 6) – Happening next week!
Marketing break!! Through January you can get the first box set for 99c...and if you purchase it from my Payhip Bookstore, you’ll automatically get 15% off the second box set (which is already live on my store). Okay, back to the goals….
- Publish The Cassie Black Trilogy – This is already scheduled for February, April, and May! I just need to put the final polish on books two and three.
- Write two or three more novels, or at least get a good start on them.
I’m a little burnt out of doing series for the moment, so these will be standalone novels. The ideas are already clucking around in my head and I’m really eager to get to them, but have been forcing myself not to think about them until I can get Cassie into the world.
- Hone the keywords and blurbs for my backlist – After reading an article about someone whose sales increased dramatically after selecting better keywords, I’m keen to work on this. And, of course, blurbs can always use a polish.
- Run some sort of ad each month – And by “ad” I mean paid promo spots in newsletters like Fussy Librarian, Book Barbarian, etc.
- Start using Bookbub pay-per-click ads…no, I mean it this time.
I’ve tried these on and off through the years, but never spent the time to “perfect” them. Since the Cassie Black books have some clear comp titles, I think those books will be a good test subject for the ads.
- Put out some audio stories. I did one audio story last year. The recording wasn’t great, and I’ll probably take it off sale soon.
But now that I’ve figured out my equipment, the upload requirements for Findaway Voices, and bought a mic better suited for audiobooks, I’m hoping to record some new stories.
The plan right now is to publish them individually on my Payhip store and as a compilation on the big retailers.
- As far as income and sales, I’m not setting any specific goals this year. Obviously, I want them to increase, but I can’t control that increase, so I’d rather not frustrate myself. But keep your fingers crossed for a breakout success with Cassie Black :))
- Continue to engage my newsletter and blog readers, while moving further and further away from social media.
I absolutely do not like the direction social media has taken the world. As last year proved, less activity on social media did not diminish my sales. And since I find myself far happier and more productive when I stay away from it, I’d prefer to use it less and less.
Still, I love sharing what’s going on, so I’m very grateful for my blog followers and I’ll continue rambling on here even though only about two people ever read this thing.
- And the best goal of the bunch… I plan to read and listen to gobs of books.
So, now it’s your turn. What’s your biggest goal for 2021? What are you going to do more or less of than you did last year? What was your biggest win of 2020?
Have a great year, everyone!!
4 thoughts on “Looking Back, Looking Forward”
Oh wow, congratulations on all your successes in 2020, Tammie… That 30% increase in sales is not to be sniffed at! Well done! Hopefully 2021 brings all good things, and the only thing going viral is Cassie Black 😁
Also, I totally agree about social media. Direct your efforts somewhere better – I know I’d rather read a book than a series of tweets!
But you can’t doom-scroll a book!! I keep popping over to Twitter now and then, but when I see authors with HUGE followings only getting three likes on their posts, I have to really wonder “why bother”? And thanks for the well wishes…I’m not sure about Cassie reaching pandemic-levels of viral, but I’ll settle for a nice little epidemic :))
Huh. I suppose the internet has trouble with people who can assemble ideas into coherent, logical sentences. Or maybe it’s correct spelling, punctuation and grammar that bothers them? Either way, I’ll take a book over doom-scrolling any day! Fingers crossed for a Cassie epidemic 🤞
Welllll….I’m sure a few typos have stolen their way into my books. Then again, that’s a few typos over 100,000 words, not 280 characters (insert heavy sigh and eye roll).
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