Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Well 2020 is finally over. And I think I can safely say, it didn’t go according to anyone’s plans.

I had high hopes for 2020. After utterly failing to hit pretty much any of my goals in 2019, I was determined to do better. I wanted to get five books out the door – two new installments of Eternity’s Empire, two books for a brand new series and a box set.

Like everyone else, I had no idea when I set my schedule for 2020 that a global pandemic was going to hit in the middle of March. That we would have to cancel all of our travel plans. That my husband would spend the end of the school year working from home. Or that a great deal of my time and energy during April and May would be devoted to ensuring our pantry was regularly stocked.

But 2020 was not a write-off. It was a struggle, that’s for sure. There were delays, unproductive days, a great many behind the scenes changes and no small amount of tears. But things were accomplished. And for that, I am proud.

As usual, I’d like to start the new year with a look back at the old one.

Here were my writing goals for 2020…

Writing Goals for 2020

~Edit Soul of the Sun
~Polish Song of the Spheres
~Write The Beast Within (tentative title for Domerin’s second series)
~Write and Edit The Family We Choose (Book 5 of the Eternity’s Empire series)
~Write and Edit Tales of the Exiles (Book 6 of the Eternity’s Empire series)
~Do 1 Million Words of Work
~Make 732,000 of those words new material

Right off the bat, I had to make a couple of changes. In order to publish at the speed I chose (more on that later), I quickly realized I was going to have to devote more time to formatting, scheduling and advertising than I used to. Like… a lot more time.

Unfortunately, this ate a pretty decent chunk out of my writing time. At the end of the day, it’s all writing adjacent, and a critical part of my author career, so it’s not like I actually did less work. But spending my work time on non-writing things meant that I did less writing. A million words of work certainly didn’t happen, mostly because I have no idea how to measure formatting tasks in word form.

If you ignore the fiddly little number goals, I think I did pretty well. For instance, editing Soul of the Sun and polishing Song of the Spheres were both finished without major difficulty. I usually devote the first half of my year to editing, so that lasted till around June.

I have been working on The Beast Within since roughly July. It has been going well but, because of various delays earlier in the year, I will need the first part of January to finish it. That was not entirely unanticipated, however, so I don’t anticipate the extra couple of weeks causing any issues.

But while I also wrote, edited and published The Family You Choose, book 5 of the Eternity’s Empire series, I have only just started book 6. I realized early in the year that I had probably bitten off more than I could chew. I also realized that the Eternity’s Empire series is long and getting increasingly difficult for new readers to catch up on. So I’ve swapped my release schedule a bit (more on that later).

But as a result of not spending as much time on the Eternity’s Empire series this year, I was able to write and edit a brand new freebie for my newsletter which will be going out later this month. Look for a release announcement soon!

Overall I did 768,324 Words of Work in 2020, 477,900 of which were brand new material and I’m pretty happy with the results of my efforts.

Publishing Goals for 2020

~February: Release The Bond Between Sisters (Book 4 of the Eternity’s Empire Series)
~May: Release Dreamers Do Lie (Book 1 of the Dream Things True Duology)
~July: Release The Family We Choose (Book 5 of the Eternity’s Empire Series)
~September: Release Life is But a Dream (Book 2 of the Dream Things True Duology)
~November: Release the Dream Things True Duology Boxset

I’m happy to say that I released each and every one of these books!

I wasn’t able to keep my original schedule. Dreamers Do Lie was pushed back to June so I could finish the map I decided to put inside it. And that, in turn, pushed back all my other releases by one month. But I’m pretty pleased that I managed to keep the revised schedule. (Click on the book titles above to find them on Amazon!)

I did realize during the tight production period for The Family We Choose that I was going to have to adjust my schedule for this particular series. First, because my poor betas were horribly rushed getting through this book for me. (Ultra kudos to them!) And second because I worry new readers will have a hard time keeping up if I don’t make it a little easier to catch up with this series.

But aside from that, I think I’ve settled into a production process and schedule that works for me. And not only that, is sustainable for the foreseeable future. No more tripping all over myself trying to get books out on time!

Marketing Goals for 2020

~Advertise new releases
~Promote back catalogue
~Try to get Amazon ads to convert better
~Try new adds (such as on Facebook and Bookbub)
~Get 1,000 Newsletter subscribers
~Get 250 members in my Facebook group
~Reach a regular monthly income
~Make a certain amount of profit from sales for the year

Marketing goals were a pretty mixed bag for me. This is also my hardest area to measure for many reasons. First, because I’ve been coy with the numbers I’m aiming for. Second, because the pandemic has thrown basically everything into chaos. At various points throughout the year, it’s been hard to tell if my efforts are floundering because I’ve done something wrong, or if people’s buying habits have changed due to what’s going on in the world at large.

I am still struggling to advertise brand new releases. But I have figured out how to run promotions during releases for new books in an already established series, which is nice. I have spent a lot of time on advertising my back catalogue. Much of this has involved chipping away at Amazon ads, learning how to use them bit by bit.

I have not tried Facebook or Bookbub ads yet, mostly because I want to master Amazon ads before moving to another field of study.

I have struggled to draw attention to my Facebook group (or even figure out what to use it for), but I have had a lot of success building my Newsletter this year! So much that my interest in it has been renewed, and I have some great treats planned for my subscribers this coming year.

I will admit that I didn’t quite make my income goals this year. But I did achieve a consistent income that feels scalable, and that is certainly progress!

It’s time to plan for 2021!

I’ll be honest, my plans for 2021 mostly revolve around building on what I established and accomplished in 2020. I want to do a little bit more of what I did last year. I want to continue the projects I started. I want to branch little by little into new territory. I want to grow.

How do I plan to do that?

Writing Goals for 2021

~Finish writing The Beast Within (the second installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Edit Once Upon a Dream (the first installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Polish Soul of the Sun (the final installment of the Celestial Serenade)
~Write Bloodforged Bonds (the third installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write and Edit Tales of the Exiles (Book 6 in the Eternity’s Empire Series)
~Write Book 7 of the Eternity’s Empire series (and edit if there’s time)
~Do 800,000 Words of Work
~Make 548,000 of those words new material

The Aruvalia Chronicles is the tentative series title for Domerin’s books, though I’m not sure how much I like it yet. I try to edit, polish and write one major novel project (usually in the form of trilogies) every year. (I’ve been lax in my naming schemes it seems.)

Writing and editing book 7 of Eternity’s Empire will come down to time. But if all goes smoothly, I think it will work out.

800,000 Words of Work for 2021 feels far more reasonable than last year’s arbitrary million. And 548,000 works out to 1,500 words every day of the year (since hitting 2,000 for each day seemed too much of a stretch).

Publishing Goals for 2021

~January: The Oracle’s Tale – a free novella for my newsletter subscribers!
~February: The End of All Things (Book 1 of Symphony of the Stars)
~April: an Eternity’s Empire Box Set including the first 4 books in the series!
~June: Across the Void (Book 2 of Symphony of the Stars)
~August: Tales of the Exiles (Book 6 of Eternity’s Empire)
~October: After the Nightmare (Book 3 of Symphony of the Stars)
~December: Symphony of the Stars (Book 1 of the Celestial Serenade) (A box set)

This time, I’ll try to make sure I hit the original dates, since there isn’t a lot of wiggle room.

And last but certainly not least…

Marketing Goals for 2021

~Continue to run promos on my backlist (especially during new releases)
~Figure out how to properly advertise brand new releases
~Keep on refining Amazon Ads
~Get 2,000 Newsletter Subscribers
~Get 250 Facebook group members
~Double monthly income from last year
~Build on current momentum / knowledge

This list is largely for my own benefit, to hold me to the course I started. While I didn’t quite hit the number goals I was aiming for in 2020, I think I tried a lot of new things and got a lot of useful information out of the process. Theoretically, if I continue walking the same path in 2021, leaning on things that worked and trying to add new information to the mix, I should be able to grow and expand.

That’s the hope, at any rate. So long as things remain less than normal, it’s hard to tell where I’ll end up when things stabilize. But every step forward is also a step in the right direction, no matter how small.

Personal Goals for 2021

Last year, I added personal goals to my list, and I want to continue that tradition with another small addendum.

One thing I have really struggled with during 2020, especially with the lockdown, is taking breaks from work to rest and relax. So for 2021, I’m going to write vacations into my schedule to make sure they happen, whether or not we’re traveling.

I also want to get a little bit better about house projects. They kind of got lost when the lockdown started, but there are some things I’d really love to get done.

Here’s hoping that 2021 is a fabulous and fantastic year. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed.

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