Same Time, Same Place
“Same time, same place, next year?” Those were the words I wrote on 2nd January 2017 when I prepared my last annual writerly review and listed my objectives for the coming year. And although it’s the cliché with which many of us, I suspect, begin those Round Robin letters that we slip into Christmas cards, it is also very true: the past 365 days have flown by so fast, I really can’t understand where the time has gone to! So, on the first day of the New Year, here we go again: a quick round-up of 2017, in writing terms, followed by an overview of my plans for 2018.
Last year, I set out five objectives, the first two of which were linked: to publish Deception! in the first half of the year; and to publish Corruption! in time for the 2017 Christmas period. This was very much a stretch target. Having produced Counterfeit!, the first in my series of thrillers set in the sometime murky world of international pharmaceuticals, in just under two years, I decided to try to complete the series within one year. This was primarily influenced by a talk I’d attended in July 2016, given by thriller writer, Damien Boyd. It was a veritable Master Class in how to get on in the self-publishing world and left me thinking: I need to get more books out there, as soon as possible.
Well, it only took me a couple of months to realise it was an unattainable goal, and that by trying to rush out my novels at six monthly intervals, I was risking producing rubbish and losing all my hard-earned, and still relatively small, fan-base. So I rapidly ditched objective number two and concentrated on making a good job of Deception! It was published in August 2017 and if sales and feedback are anything to go by, I took the right decision.
Objectives three and four were both connected to short stories: to get fifty submissions out there by the end of the year; and to get at least one story accepted for (paid) publication by a magazine. These came about due to my feeling at the end of 2016 that I was missing out on a part of my creativity by stopping all competition entries and concentrating on the novels. So in 2017, I started entering competitions again. I never made it to fifty ‘out theres’, although I kept up my weekly tally for at least half the year. But my success rate was abysmal. I made it on to one shortlist only – thank you Creative Writing Matters. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I should win or be mentioned in every competition I enter, but I would hope to have a better ‘success’ rate than 1 in 47. And I made no headway at all on the magazine front either. Definitely time for another rethink on the short story aspect of my writing.
My last objective was a marketing one, in line with my belief that I am not only an author but a business owner: to develop and execute a marketing push that results in a measurable increase in ebook sales by the end of the year. This was occasioned by the fact that I am still bucking the trend and selling more paperbacks face to face than ebooks online.
It’s still early days on this one. I have recently signed up for Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors training programme and am currently learning how to write effective adverts for Facebook. But I can report that my marketing plan for the launch of Deception! (yes, reader, I did have a plan!) resulted in a significant increase in ebook sales this time around. I am currently running at equal quantities of pbooks and ebooks, which is definitely a move in the right direction.
So, with only two of my objectives showing a positive result, do I feel I have had a poor year? Not at all! Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am very much a ‘glass half-full’ person and always try to see the plus side of any situation.
In 2017, I not only published a novel and made a start on building a more sizeable online business, but also published twelve issues of the Chudleigh Phoenix Community Magazine; kept my weekly blog going most of the time; wrote the first half of Corruption! during NaNoWriMo in November; attended three writing conferences, including old favourite Swanwick Writers’ Summer School; celebrated our Ruby Wedding and my niece’s wedding in style with friends and family; enjoyed some brilliant holidays with my wonderful husband; and took time out for trips to the gym and to sing in at least four different music group. Because writing may be my business, but it’s also just part of my life – and life is for enjoying in all sorts of ways. Besides which, I’m my own boss – which makes my performance reviews much more relaxed!
And then there was Chasing Unicorns. In April, we lost a friend. Katy Clarke spent her final weeks in Rowcroft Hospice and a group of Swanwick writers got together and produced, in her memory, a collection of short stories for adults and children, reflecting the subjects that meant a lot to Katy, like family, history, music – and unicorns. All proceeds go to Rowcroft. I had the privilege of editing the collection and it is one of the 2017 outcomes of which I am proudest.
So, here we go again: 2018 Writing Objectives
- To write and publish Corruption!
- To update and relaunch books 1-3 in the Business of Writing series
- To write and publish book 4, on Self-Publishing
- To write and publish a Workbook to accompany books 1-4
- To show a measurable increase in ebook sales
And, yes, I know there’s a lot in there again; and there’s a risk that I won’t achieve everything. But I have a particular reason for setting objectives 2-4. I can’t say anything just yet, but more about that in the new year. And I will let you know how I get on in due course. Same time, same place, next year?
In the meantime, a very Happy New Year to all of you. To the authors among you, happy writing; and to all you wonderful readers, I hope you continue to enjoy our work. You are what makes it all worthwhile.