An Ever-Growing Glass?
This time last year, having, in true politician style, converted the rather lack-lustre results for my 2018 objectives into an apparently sparkling set of achievements in a packed schedule, I finished by describing myself not so much as a glass half full person as a “glass spilling over, we’re going to need a bigger glass” person, before going on to list what I hoped to achieve in 2019. Today, I’m going to reflect on how that worked out for me.
I set myself four main objectives for the year, at least here on the blog. (I realised yesterday that the list I set for myself on my writers’ circle blog was different, but that’s another story. I’m going to stick with my original list here.) And with hindsight, I find it interesting that my first objective was a marketing one rather than a writing one.
To increase my level of marketing for the whole portfolio and to achieve an acceptable level of sales by the end of the year
Although I didn’t put a figure to ‘acceptable’ I was aiming for at least one book sold each day of the year, with the main increase being in online sales. Well, that didn’t happen. I took some courses; teetered on the edge of dabbling with some adverts, then pulled back frightened of the huge black hole that could become. My face to face sales continue to be better than my online ones and I have concluded I should concentrate on what I am good at, and enjoy. However, I remain hopeful that my online sales will take off at some point, and have pulled all my fiction back into KDP Select to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited downloads.
To spend ten months researching and planning the next novel, a time-slip set in Russia, possibly with a fantasy element; and to write the first draft during NaNoWriMo in November
This one was going well, until around July when I suddenly decided I didn’t want to write a complex dual narrative book or yet another story set in Russia. So although I did successfully complete NaNoWriMo for the seventh year in a row, I was working on the first in a series of light-hearted mysteries set in a fictional village, not a million miles from my home town in South Devon.
To publish The Business of Writing Part 4 Independent Publishing by July
I not only completed this objective but also brought out a Workbook to complement Parts 1-3 of the series. And I conclusively proved it is much easier to sell non-fiction, than fiction, at a writer’s conference, especially on a current topic like Independent Publishing.
To find homes for lots of my archived material: short stories, and travel pieces.
No, didn’t do this one. Not even close. But there’s always the coming year…
And here comes the bit where I bring out the sparkles. 2019 was a mixed year emotionally, with some low times among the highs but in addition to working on the above objectives, I published twelve issues of Chudleigh Phoenix Community Magazine; kept both this blog and the Chudleigh Writers’ Circle one going on a weekly basis; my FaceBook group, based on The Business of Writing, passed 100 members and despite the ever-changing algorithm which appears to hide posts from some members, we manage to get some lively discussions going; I attended the wonderful Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick for the thirteenth time, presenting a short course on Independent Publishing and running the Book Room; continued to be an active member of Chudleigh Writers’ Circle and Exeter Writers; led the team that ran the ninth Chudleigh Literary Festival – the last one for the time being, although who knows what the future might bring; was on the Steering Group for, and presented workshops at, the second Exeter Literary Festival; and presented a week of Pause for Thought pieces on BBC Radio Devon three times. I spent three glorious weeks in Greece with Michael; plus short breaks at Thyme, our latest discovery in Gloucestshire, and Lewtrenchard Manor. We spent a wonderful day in Somerset learning to cook Indian dishes with the inspirational Bini Ludlow of Sweet Cumin. And as always, we found plenty of time throughout the year for friends and family.
My overall theme for 2019 was Doing It My Way – and having fun in the process. And I certainly feel like I did that. All in all, I’m definitely going to need a bigger glass.
For 2020, I have made no resolutions at all. I have an operation coming up in March which is going to impact significantly on my mobility, although hopefully only short-term. And before that, I am taking on Trustee roles for two charities – more of that in later posts. As for the rest, I’m going to go with the flow and concentrate on having more fun along the way. After all, that’s why I started this writing lark in the first place.
Post-script on the Past Decade
Seeing all the posts about achievements during the past decade, I didn’t think I had anything to contribute, as I couldn’t remember anything major in the time. Our move to Devon was in 2007, so twelve years ago; my last major illness, which precipitated my move to creative writing, was 2005. But then I thought again:
- I published my first book in 2011; since then I have brought out fourteen titles in a total of thirty formats under my own name; and have also published three titles for other people;
- My book sales are in the low thousands. There is still a long way to go, but this was always going to be a long haul flight;
- I gave up the day job in 2012, to become a ‘full-time’ writer;
- I won a couple of competition and had several also-rans, including being Runner-up in the 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards;
- I ran the Chudleigh Literary Festival for nine years from 2011.
So, actually, there is quite a bit to celebrate about the past decade. Now, let’s see what the new one has to bring.
Happy New Year and Happy New Decade, one and all. Thank you for accompanying me on this writerly journey.