2018 Is Here!

2018 Is Here!

2017 was a good year. I did a lot of things I wanted to do, some things I never expected to do, and learned how to move forward on my path, both professionally and personally. Every time something good happened this year, I wrote it on a scrap of paper and slid it into my 2017 Jar of Awesome, which I keep on my desk to brighten my bad days. I got to put some pretty exciting things in that jar this year, including selling 98 copies of Island of Lost Forevers in one day, and banking my first significant income from my books.

How I did in 2017
My writing goals for 2017 were:
~Finish Dreamers Do Lie and query hardcore
~Edit Life is But a Dream so that it is fit to be seen by my beta readers
~Pull Symphony of the Stars out of hiatus and edit/re-write the book so that it is also fit for a new round of beta reading.
~Write, edit and publish 10 chapters of Eternity’s Empire (Plus 3 collections of 5 chapters each)
~Do 400,000 Words of Work throughout the year
~Make 300,000 of those Words of Work new creative writing

While I did finish polishing Dreamers Do Lie way back in February, my query efforts this year can best be described as softcore. I did participate in several pitch parties on twitter and, though I saw some interest, none of them panned out. I did make a list of 83 agents to query, but I’ve only sent out 30 queries so far. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any bites so I’ve decided to re-think my query and send out the next batch early this year. I’m not letting rejections get me down, but I want to give this book the best chance for success.

Life is But a Dream is finished! Initial feedback from my beta readers indicates this book is pretty solid. There’s really only one character that needs a bit more tweaking and development, and I think it can be easily sorted during the next pass. I plan to put the finishing touches on this project between March and April of this year, then I just need to figure out how to release it all into the wild.

I knew tackling Symphony of the Stars this year was an ambitious goal, but I didn’t realize just how ambitious it was going to be. I thought this book had relatively few plot holes and most of the old scenes only needed a quick polish to bring them up to standard. I was wrong on all counts. What I thought would be a 120,000 word novel has turned into a 210,000 word potential trilogy, requiring a lot more tweaks and polish than I anticipated. So I didn’t completely finish this book. But I did pull it out of hiatus and get two-thirds of the way through the edit. I plan to devote January and February to part three and then it will be ready for my betas.

I wrote, edited and published five chapters of Eternity’s Empire in 2017. I also released book two of the Eternity’s Empire Collection. For various reasons, halfway through the year I switched to a bi-monthly release schedule for Eternity’s Empire so that I could spend more time on development and marketing for each chapter. Looking back, releasing a chapter every month was a pretty ambitious goal, so I’m not sad that I cut this back to something more reasonable. I’d rather the quality of the work not suffer for the sake of quantity.

My final word tally for the year comes to 513,832 across writing, editing, planning and blogging. 100,000 more words than I expected I’d be able to do! The final amount of new words I wrote this year was 376,010, that works out to more than 1,000 new words every day (even if I didn’t actually write every day).

In addition to my planned goals for the year, I also released all three of the Mystical Island books in paperback, which feels like a huge milestone. All told, I wrote and published a lot this year; maybe even a bit too much, but I’m happy I got through all of it.

My Marketing Goals for 2017 were:
~Reach 1,000 Newsletter Subscribers
~Learn more
~Devote some money to advertising
~Achieve a modest monthly income

Most of my plans for growing my newsletter early in the year fell through, partly due to poor planning on my part. I ended up getting so distracted with other things that I didn’t finish the new short I want to launch for my list until December. However, I think I’m better prepared to undertake this in 2018.

I know way more about marketing than I knew a year ago. But I still have a lot to learn, so I’m certainly not done with this goal yet!

After a lot of fingernail biting and hair pulling, I met someone who guided me through my first advertising endeavor and stood by me through all the nervous breakdowns involved. I ran my first stacked add campaign across four days with mixed results. While I didn’t make back the amount I spent, I sold way more books than I ever have at one time, hit the top 50 in two categories on Amazon, and learned that there IS an audience for my books, I just need to do a better job of finding them. After that, I also purchased some smaller advertising opportunities as I hone in on what works and what doesn’t. It was an invaluable experience, and I’m glad I finally took the plunge.

As for my income, it’s hard to judge the success of that goal. I didn’t reach the number I had in mind. But the number I did reach isn’t too shabby when you consider I made a whopping $38 off my writing in 2016. I had income every month this year. And if I add up the full amount I made and average it out, the number is halfway to my original goal. That’s no small thing. If I could increase my sales as much next year as I did this year, I would be in a pretty good spot. So I’m going to give myself a nod for this one; it’s important to acknowledge the significance of this achievement even if it wasn’t quite what I wanted.

WHEW! When I write it all out like that, I can see just how busy 2017 really was!

What are my plans for 2018?
~Finish Symphony of the Stars and send it to beta readers
~Polish Life is But a Dream
~Re-write/edit Song of the Spheres (book two of my space opera) and send it to beta readers
~Write Soul of the Sun (book three of my space opera)
~Write, edit and publish Book Three of Eternity’s Empire
~Do 500,000 words of work throughout the year (writing, editing, planning, blogging)
~Make 365,000 of those words of work new words

This might seem like a lot, considering I’m trying to set more reasonable goals. But there are only two really intensive projects here (Song of the Spheres and Soul of the Sun – especially if they grow as much as Symphony of the Stars has). My word goals are pretty close to last year’s, but I feel like I’m on the edge of what I can reasonably accomplish in a year. If I push myself harder, I’m just going to crumble under the pressure. If I’m at my maximum comfortable productivity level, then my goal should be to maintain it.

In addition, I’ve got some business/marketing goals as well:
~Reach 1,000 Newsletter Subscribers (for reals this time)
~Better advertising for my backlist
~Better advertising for releases
~Achieve a modest increase to monthly income
~Continue to learn more and implement better marketing practices

All of these are logical next steps from where I left off in 2017, and I think I have a lot better idea how to implement them than I would have a year ago.

Of course my final goal for 2018 is to take care of my health, which I sorely neglected in 2017. That means setting reasonable goals, taking more breaks, working smarter and respecting my own limits.

What are your goals for 2018?

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