Well, I won’t bother anyone with clichés about how thankful I am for this year to be over. And actually, when you take away the virus, civil unrest, insane political stupidity, and all the needless deaths, it was actually a pretty good year for me.
First of all, 2020 will always be a great year in the since that our son was born. That’s something that makes up for a lot of the general terrible-ness. My wife and I have been basically living in a bubble since September, and I’ve also been in a bubble of writing madness as I’m preparing to release three books in my new series, The Starsea Cycle, early next year.
This year actually began a little darker than it ended. I had to get over my complete distaste of promoting myself and my books, what I call Pure Artist Syndrome. It’s been a very long learning curve, but I’m a little better off ending this year than starting it. I started off the new year by enrolling my books in Kindle Unlimited, thinking it might earn me more money. It turns out that it did, but at the cost have having to spend far more than I was comfortable with on advertising. So in the end, it was a wash.
[As a side note, all you KU readers who found me through the program, my next series Starsea Cycle will be available through Overdrive. So request your copies through your local library, and there is a pretty good chance they’ll they can get it through you through the app, AND you’ll get to read it for free while helping me out]!
Anyway, back to business. I began the year by developing a new series. However, lack of planning on my part meant that I had to wait a long time for the cover art to be done. The artist I wanted to use was booked six months in advance. Lesson learned there, and it really told me how organization and time management needs to be my main goal for a successful 2021.
I learned that I can’t just wing it anymore. That might sound obvious, but it’s pretty much how I’ve always operated. Again, Pure Artist Syndrome. This year, I’ve learned how to put on a business hat as well as a writer’s hat, and the business side told the artist side that I had to make two changes, things I was highly resistant to:
- Learn how to market myself
- Keep a very specific schedule that allows me to meet deadlines with ease
So, the business side immediately saw that KU was not working. The exclusivity clause was just too much, and it rankled that I couldn’t even put my books in libraries. I ditched the program in September and decided to go back to my former model of making my first book free and charging for the rest. The results immediately started paying off.
I made a real breakthrough when I learned how to properly outline a novel. Fun fact: for most of my novels, I completely winged it without any sort of prior planning. That can work, but I’ve also learned that was why it took me so long to write a novel. Up to a year, sometimes. I kept going back to fix things that could have been avoided with an outline. And if you don’t know where your novel is going, then it’s very easy to get writer’s block.
That’s probably not earth-shattering, but I’m a very stubborn person and it takes a lot for me to admit it when I’m doing something wrong (just ask my wife).
So now, I’ve reformed my ways. I work with an outline, and also outline the beats of each scene. This has made my writing much faster, evidenced by the two completed books this year, with a third one making very good progress. According to my schedule, I’ll complete the first draft of book 3 on the 15th of January.
Google Calendar is a humble tool, but quite amazing on the productivity front. It’s amazing to know weeks ahead of time where I need to be to stay on track, as well as have my writing goal laid out for me. It makes every day so much more simple, knowing ahead of time what I’m supposed to do. Again, not earth-shattering, but it made a world of difference for me.
That’s my main resolution going forward into 2021. I’m taking the focus off of marketing. If I do push anything, it will be Apocalypse, my book that I’m keeping permanently free, while working hard to write a lot of new books. I have every day of 2021 mapped out, as completely insane as that sounds. I know when each book will be released, when each book will go on preorder, my editing and writing will take each day, etc.
This is the complete opposite of the old me, and it’s a little scary going forward. Just seeing everything that needs to be done is a bit overwhelming.
Then again, I’ll never know if I can do it until I try. And theoretically, I can finish the tasks I’ve set for myself for each individual day. So when you add up all 365 days in a year, what ends up being a lot of words.
Will I be able to stick with it? That remains to be seen. So far, I’ve been sticking with it and the word count of Book 3 has been has been climbing astronomically. So assuming I can keep it going, I’ll be in a very good spot.
Let’s just say hypothetically I do stick with it, then that would mean I’m releasing 7 books this year, and all of them would be a decent length of about 120,000 words each (or about 500 pages in print).
It’s probably too ambitious, and part of me wants to walk it back. At the same time, it’s sort of my inspiration going forward into 2021. I want to imagine that future where I have another series that’s at least as successful as Wasteland Chronicles and Xenoworld Saga.
So, that’s the goal. And with a goal like that, I’m more than happy to say goodbye to 2020.