Ah the beginning of a new year. A time to reflect on what went well in the previous 12 months and look to plan the next 12. A time for resolutions and if you are me, false hope.
For new readers, I apologize for the slightly depressing beginning but if you are a (the) regular reader, you’ll be familiar with the theme. This blog has been going since 2005 (according to the date of the first post) and to date there have been around 363 items which helps to highlight the level of commitment I have to the site.
Still, new year; new attempt at kick-starting things.
2016 in review
2016 was more of a mixed bag than previous ones. I managed to publish 1.5 more short stories; the .5 being the free “Midge You Were Here” which, at time of writing, has been downloaded at least 500 times. This is most likely due to it being free, but I like to fantasize that it is as a result of people being really excited to read it… and it was free. Those 1.5 newly published shorts followed on from the more creatively successful (in terms of numbers rather than perhaps quality, or even sales) 3 published at the end of 2015.
I also dabbled in using Smashwords as a delivery/sales mechanism and used some cheap marketing options to try and push sales in the early part of 2016. In the end I found that unless my writing was free, there wasn’t much interest which is entirely fair given that I’m pretty much unknown apart from the one person who may read this blog; some of my family and the millions of eager readers who hang on my every word but who live entirely inside my imagination. It became clear that what I needed to do was to increase my visibility (what, is this corporate land now?) and more than likely improve the quality of my output because, lets face it, if my stuff was of a high quality then perhaps more would read it and tell other people about it, and maybe even request my investiture or a knighthood via a petition on change.org.
As I took some time off from publishing to focus on limited marketing, I lost track of publishing and as a result the Hope Town series ground to a halt. Oh, I still wrote occasionally but I admit that the lack of sales and traction deflated me a little, and the euphoria from releasing “The Devil’s Pâtissier” on Halloween 2015 didn’t last as long as I had hoped. The cold reality bit deep and I slowly slipped into “what’s the point?” mode.
To take me out of that funk I tried something different, and began to write another novel which was an expansion of my old obsession with murder in a small village setting and parodies thereof. I managed to write up a rough outline and chapter breakdowns, together with 1300 words. Again, it petered out but for a week or so I had some of the passion for writing back.
As a substitute I started to look at getting a newsletter set up so that I could build and grow a readership. That hit a few roadblocks on the way, most notably because I legally need to be able to provide an address and the only way to do that and not publicise where I live with my family was to set up a PO box. I gave up at that after a week or so as well.
Hey, I think I’ve found that my attention span falls off at around a week so if I can plan to take a maximum of a week to do something then I’m set.
So, to 2017
Taking all of the previous stuff into consideration, the 2017 plan is taking shape which since we are at the beginning of the year, is pretty good timing even if I do say so myself. The key elements are to build an audience and create quality content/output, and I’m aiming to break those down into smaller and more achievable chunks. The current list is as follows:
- Start and build a newsletter
- Look at other marketing options
- Complete first draft of 1 novel
- Decide how to proceed with Hope Town
- Take a shot at creating some scripts
- Create regular short stories that can be used as newsletter content
That fourth point is a killer because I had mapped that entire series out over 3 years, but I have to be realistic in that there may not be a market for short stories with no real specific genre. Now, I may be wrong in that and I could continue to write Hope Town to the bitter end but if no-one reads them or is interested in reading them then really what’s the point? I’ve never thought I would end up getting rich from my writing, but if I can’t find an audience, how can I truly say that I am an author? That may be a little too close to beginning a philosophical discussion, so I think I’ll just park that somewhere and forget where I put the keys.
As for the rest of the plan, I am aiming to document progress against each one as I go. This is especially important if I’m looking to build an audience and have a newsletter; I need content there or there won’t be anything to keep the readers from switching off. That’s also the reason why my 5 item list became a 6 item list just a minute or so ago.