I long ago gave up making New Year’s Resolutions. No matter how good my intentions, the resolutions were almost always so far out in left field they were unattainable. So, sooner rather than later, the resolutions were out the door. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still try to set realistic goals for the New Year and move toward reaching them and, judging by some of the posts I’ve seen on social media, I’m not the only one.
Looking at some of the “resolutions” by other writers, I find myself shaking my head. Almost every one of them is something along the lines of “I have to write more.” Well, duh. That is something we all need to do, myself included. However, I’ve learned the hard way–and on more than one occasion, that saying I need to put out a book every three months or less is often setting myself up for trouble. Every book seems to have its own writing schedule. Some require more research. Others don’t flow as quickly during the draft phase and some do. Beta readers may be slow in getting back to me. Life interferes. There are so many factors, not the least of which is that we all write at different speeds.
So here’s the thing. Yes, set a goal for the year but make it a realistic one, taking into consideration the other demands on your life. If you wrote one book this year, see if there are ways to carve out time to increase that to a book and a novella at the very least this year. Can you carve out more writing time by decreasing the time you spend gaming or on social media? How abut getting up half an hour earlier a couple of days a week, or maybe staying up half an hour later to write? There are ways.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of excuses and “explanations” for why you don’t have more time to write. And, yes, I include myself in that “you”.
Something else to look at is your bottom line. One of the writer’s groups I belong to had a number of folks posting their year-end earnings. I was reminded of when I first started off how much I loved writing and how much each sale meant to me. Some of them were ecstatic to have made in a year what I make in a week or two. It brought me up short and then I stepped back and thought about it. They were doing what they had always dreamed of doing. They were writing and people were buying their stories.
But there was something else included as well. They knew they could make more but they had to do something to do so. It wasn’t spend money on advertising or taking time away from writing spending hours on social media promoting that first title. It was to sit their butts down in their chairs and write. Each of them have jobs and families and other demands on their lives but they knew if they were going to be “writers”, they needed to keep writing. So they were setting up schedules to get at least one new title out this year, preferably in the first quarter to half of the year.
This joy of writing and accepting the challenge they were setting for themselves sat in stark contrast to some of the posts I’ve seen from established writers, indie and traditionally published. These posts are crying about the lack of monies earned. Several traditional publishers mourned their lack of sales from places like B&N, all the while dissing Amazon for taking away what had been their biggest market. They aren’t considering other factors, or even the number of sales they get from Amazon. They are so deep into Amazon Derangement Syndrome that they can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. Some of these writers are mourning the loss of an industry.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the hopeful outlook of the new indie writers than the jaded traditionally published writers and editors who haven’t figured out how to adapt to new tech, new demands and new outlets. I think I’ll take my cue from those new indie authors and follow their lead.
In other words, they know the best way to make money from their writing is to write more.
That applies to all of us, no matter how many titles we have out there. Each new title not only brings in money from those who are already familiar with our work but, hopefully, new readers who will buy the new title and then go back and buy our back lists.
The key isn’t to keep watching the monies being made–or not made–on that one or two titles we have out there but to put out new material to keep the readers coming back. Sure, there is a time when you have to look at it and decide whether it is worth it whether you continue or not but, if you want to be a writer, you don’t give up if your first title didn’t make you a lot of money. You look at what you did to promote it. You look at what your reviews say. You look at how long it has been out without another title coming after it. Then you decide whether you want to write for an audience. If you do, you need to write.
I wish I could say there’s some magic formula that will make us best sellers. There isn’t. It’s hard work and it all starts with writing.
So, what are my goals for this year? That’s simple. I’m going to finish getting all my books out in print editions. My goal for that is Feb. 15th. By the end of this month, I’ll have the rebranded third book of the Stalker’s Moon series out. I have two books in rough drafts right now, the next Eerie Side of the Creek novel and the next Nocturnal Lives novel. I plan to get back to work on them next week. I have the final book in the Sword of the Gods trilogy outlined and would like to have it published by September. I need to close out that series. I have started outlining the next Honor & Duty book. I’d like to have it out by summer but I know life might interfere. There are a few other titles, shorter works, bouncing around in my head and I’m trying to sit on them because it takes me longer to write short than it does long. But, realistically, my goal is three novels this year. I’d like it to be four.
Then there are blurbs to review and rewrite and new covers to discuss and execute. It is a lot of work but it can and will be done–hopefully. However, to do so, I have to follow my own advice and put butt in chair and work.
I’m not going to ask for your New Year’s Resolutions. But I will ask what your goals are for this year. What do you want to accomplish in 2019?