Like so many others, I thought I’d do a 2012 year-in-review post to see where I’ve come from, what I’ve done, and where I hope to go in the future. Part ego-trip, part reminiscence, it’s a good way to get a running start on the new year.
In the last year…
- After merely dipping my toe in the water in 2011, I dove all the way into self-publishing by publishing my two crime fiction novels, A Reason to Live and Blueblood. While I was fairly certain I’d publish short stories and novellas online, it wasn’t until I made the commitment to put my novels in the ring that I was “all in.” The financial rewards have been modest, but the sense of control over my career and self-empowerment can’t be matched.
- I sold over 1,000 copies of A Reason to Live since its publication in May. I gave away more than 12,500 copies. (I think. Timely and accurate record keeping is a resolution for 2013.)
- In addition to publishing the two novels mentioned, I wrote a third novel as well as three short stories, a novella, and most of another. I’ve outlined two more novels.
- I created the artwork for all of my covers and all of the formatting for all pieces.
- I published 130 posts to my blog, which received 14,500 hits and garnered 102 followers. More importantly, it put me in touch with a new spectrum of colleagues, thinkers, and friends.
- In a similar vein, I went from 7 friends on Goodreads to 1,200 by applying myself assiduously to the site that I consider to be the promotional corollary to Amazon. And–although I can’t exactly quantify this progress–in using the site, I went from “throw-your-tea-cup-across-the-room” frustration to “I-can-almost-do-everything-I-want-in-three-steps-or-less” proficiency.
- Through contacts I made in local writers’ groups, I managed to score an offer to form, manage, and participate on an all-star self-publishing panel made up of Scott Nicholson, Michael Sullivan, Robin Sullivan, and Karen Cantwell at George Mason University’s Fall for the Book program. Although neither Neil Gaiman nor Michael Chabon swung by to chat–both were honorees of the festival–the crowd of 120+ that turned out for the event was flattering.
- I had my first three public books signings of the year, including a book festival I formed with nine other local DC writers that also landed me with my first TV gig: a 5 minute spot on a live local interest show. Both events were harrowing at first and fun in the end.
- I continued to be the webmaster for both a local writers club (www.northernvirginiawriters.org) as well as its state parent (www.virginiawritersclub.org).
- I published widely through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes in an effort to reach a wider audience, only to contract towards the end of the year, disappointed by the lack of support from all of those channels.
- I held five giveaways on Goodreads with a combined total of 4,000 entrants.
- I ducked my head into the world of advertising and promotion, which in turn led to a deeper understanding of Facebook, Twitter…and CTR rates.
With the publication of my novels, I naturally harbored hopes that I would become the next self-publishing, financially-independent phenom, interviewed by media outlets all over the world. While that didn’t happen, I’m not sure I could’ve been happier with 2012. The amount I learned in those twelve short months dwarfed everything I thought I knew previously and the sense of accomplishment I achieved pursuing, as Malcolm Gladwell put it, “meaningful work” hasn’t been mine since…well, it’s been a long time.
Keeping firmly in mind that my reach should exceed my grasp, I hope and plan to:
- Publish three novels in 2013. I’ll continue at least two more in the Marty Singer series (returning later, of course) before branching off for a stand-alone thriller.
- Launch a humorous fantasy novella series (I’m cheating: two are already written. Just working with an artist on the cover design). End goal: 5 novellas.
- Stick to a twice weekly blog schedule.
- Attend at least 1 conference and 10 signings as a participant, not an observer.
- Look into representation and publication by a small press. I’m curious to see whether, as some believe, “hybrid publishing” (some self-publishing + some traditional publishing) is where the future lies. The successful writing career may be in small presses, where the rules, traditions, and contractual mentality are vastly less-calcified.
- I’d like to have 250 blog subscribers, 2,500 Goodreads friends, 150 Facebook followers, 1,000 Twitter followers. It should be a simple task to accomplish any one of them, but all of those goals will take some doing…
- Keep trying to crack the nut on advertising and promotion.
- Continue to work on my craft. The schedule of promotion and self-publication tend to take some of the creative stuffing out of me, which I don’t like. The goal shouldn’t be only about quotas.
In the end…
I hope your 2012 was full of pleasant surprises and goals met, and that 2013 will have more of the same. Grow, improve, and strive in all that you do…we’ll compare notes this time, next year.