Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Writer Resolutions

This is it, the second day of a new year. Some of us are already back at work, some have the day off. Either way, we're entering another year full of promise, full of change and improvement over last year's habits. We take what we learned in 2016 and apply it to this year, so by the eve of 2018, we can look back and see what great strides we've made. (Definitely better to concentrate on the successes than the failures.) 

I'm dragging some habits with me from 2016 to 2017---like dedicated work time, for instance. I've managed to finally get my family to respect my work hours. Also, I want to get better at marketing, promotions, and pricing strategies. I'm learning, and did pretty well in 2016 compared to 2015. We'll see how it goes in the new year.

Here's a list of my other resolutions, some of which may actually prove successful:

  • Read more. Not just fiction, of which I read a variety, but non-fiction. Craft books, marketing books, publishing industry news. Things I need to submerse myself better into this business. There's so much to learn. I spent most of my early years learning writing techniques, so now I feel like I know nothing about the "business" end of this business. I wish I'd learned that much sooner.
  • Keep better records.  I stink at this. Truly stink. Come tax time, I'm scrambling around to find receipts and sales records. I have to recount my stock and remember what I sold and what I used as a promo giveaway.
  • Analyze what works. I can't believe this didn't dawn on me earlier. I've been buying ads with magazine and email services, but haven't been keeping a close eye on how they do. One of the email services I thought would be best doesn't do as well as one I thought wouldn't have a high return. Doesn't do any good to blow money on ads if there isn't a decent return on investment.
  • Write more. Last year, I released one full-length novel and one novella in a collection. That's pretty good for me, but I'd like to do better. I've heard of authors who can write a novel a month. I'm not sure that'll ever happen for me, but I'd like to write and release two novels and two novellas a year. This year, I got two novellas written, but only one released. Aside from fiction, I'd love to write some nonfiction. Craft books, devotionals.
  • Increase my product line. By this, I don't necessarily mean "write more," although adding nonfiction to my line would be nice. But I'd also like to have audio books made, perhaps some large print books, maybe---and I got this idea at a conference last year---Braille books.
  • Sell more. Which means learning marketing and promotions, but it also means increasing my distributorship. True, I may not get my self-pubbed books in bookstores, but there are other outlets. Since I'm a Texan who writes books set in Texas, virtually any novelty "Texas" store may carry my line. I'll never know if I don't try. Most of my books are centered around rodeo and ranching, so there's another group of specialty stores that may carry them. My books are intended for a Christian audience---another group of specialty stores.
  • Get my books into more libraries. Gaining a wider readership means gaining a larger fan base. Word of mouth is one of the best possible sales tools out there, but it relies on the availability of my books.
  • Improve my own visibility. This idea is the one I'll have the most problem with, because its success doesn't depend on me. I would love to have more speaking engagements, but for the most part, that relies on invitations. I'll just have to promote myself as a speaker as often as I promote myself as a writer. 

Anything in this list that sparks your interest? Anything you hadn't considered before? If you're a new writer, you may want to concentrate on your craft, but don't neglect building your platform. Put some thought into your product launch. Consider how to best maximize visibility once you get published. Have some record-keeping ideas ready. Do all this now. Don't do as I did and start learning after you've got five novels under your belt. My backside is so sore from kicking myself! 

Also, keep in mind that whether you self-publish or publish traditionally, much of the business end of publishing lands on your shoulders. Some of it is eased if you have a publisher, but that publisher isn't as invested in your success as you are. Learn everything you can now, so you'll be a better entrepreneur later.

Welcome to the new year, y'all. Hope God blesses it for you.
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