Tag: promoting

Resolutions: 2017 review and 2018 goals

gnome

Another form of self-care: crocheting random stuff, which I then list on Etsy because who needs a handful of tiny gnomes?

Every year I set goals for myself.

Let me preface this by saying 2017 sucked. I took on too much academically, especially in light of getting a part-time job that was more stressful than I’d anticipated (emergency shelter residential youth services direct care counselor), and having to revise my comprehensive exam twice set me back too. Throw in a health scare (I’m okay though!) and some personal issues that’ll make for a great book, tentatively called Every Day Is the Worst Day of My Life, and maybe I should be proud about how much I actually did manage to accomplish, rather than frustrated about how many goals I didn’t reach.

Either way, here’s how I did over the past year.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

I finished a handful of new stuff, but nowhere near something every month.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything.

I DID THIS!!!!!! I published THIRTEEN stories on Medium, nine of which were previously unpublished works.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

I outlined the book and started the draft, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I had to revise my comprehensive exam twice, which set me back and took away from this project, as has working on my dissertation.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc.

I did several events this year: a local lit fest, a book fair, and a solo reading. I sold an average of one book per event and didn’t give away enough swag to even say I got my name out there. My time is pretty damn valuable right now, so I’m going to hold off on local stuff for awhile because it’s just not worth it.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

Other than a couple weeks in India last January, I unfortunately only made it out of the country to Canada – and even then, it was only once (okay, maybe twice because we drove from Seattle to Banff to Glacier National Park back up to Alberta and over to Winnipeg, but it was all the same trip). I got a part-time job starting in the summer, so now I have the money to travel but not the time. I did manage to get several trips in though: Georgia and the Carolinas over spring break, a week solo in a secluded cabin in northern Michigan, that trip to the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies, plus some day trips and weekend trips around the Midwest. And on a happier note, I leave for India again in about a week (spending two weeks there with my kid), then it’s on to Iceland for spring break and a month in Thailand in June, which hopefully will also include some time in Singapore and Bali. And a summer trip to the southwest, that may include a jaunt down to Mexico.

6. Read 100 books.

I started out doing pretty well at staying on pace, but really fell off this fall due to a grueling schedule that left little time for reading. I read a bunch of stories on Medium, but those aren’t trackable or books. I ended up reading 56 books total in 2017.

Overall in 2017

As Armando Christian Pérez says, “Reach for the stars, and if you don’t grab them at least you’ll fall on top of the world.” Every year I set myself some Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs), knowing full well that I probably won’t reach them but at least they’ll move me closer to my overarching, long-term goals of becoming a more successful author, expanding my horizons, and achieving within my career field. This year, despite not really doing everything I’d planned, I’m still further along the path than I was a year ago. And next year’s BHAGs will get me further along as well.

2018 goals

  1. Better time management. I’m generally pretty busy with work and school and life, so when I get a moment to breathe I spend it on something like cat videos. While self-care is important, I have a long list of goals with many parts, and I need to focus if I’m going to accomplish everything on my lists. To that end, I’ve made a checklist of 13 things I want to get done every day, including writing tasks, school and career projects, and self-enrichment activities. I plan to track what I do every day, at least until it becomes an ingrained habit.
  2. Publish to Medium at least weekly.
  3. Publish a stand-alone novella or short story collection quarterly.
  4. Grow my reader base, whether on social media, my newsletter, or Medium, by at least double. So, 600 followers on Facebook, 1500 followers on Twitter, 200 followers on Medium, and 3000 mailing list subscribers.
  5. Post to my blog at least twice a week, and promote those posts to get more traffic here.
  6. Read 100 books.

Can I do it? Probably not. But I can at least try!

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Fall 2017 goal review

Mr. McNutterpants, from my short story “A Lesser Man” on Medium

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this fall.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

I have several chapters done on a novel, and I’ve finished a couple shorts. I’m hoping NaNoWriMo will spur me into action next month.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’ve started posting stuff on Medium. Three things are up so far – two are stories that have been published elsewhere, and one’s a new story, “A Lesser Man,” that’s pretty damn hilarious. You should read it.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

My academic timeline is about a semester behind where I want to be. But, most importantly, I passed my comprehensive exam and am now officially a PhD candidate! All I have left is my dissertation (and several classes for a master’s I just tacked on), which is my focus right now. My timeline right now is to have my proposal mostly done by Christmas break, so I can still theoretically crank out this nonfiction book over break.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

As I mentioned last time, events are turning into a major waste of time. I’m doing a solo reading tonight, and then I’m done with live events for awhile unless they have a proven track record for women’s fiction book sales.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

Sadly, this isn’t happening – this year. I’m headed to India for 2 weeks in January and Thailand with my kid for a month next summer – but for the rest of this year, it looks like I’ll be staying more domestic, with upcoming trips to Boston in November and hopefully Duluth in December (weather-dependent).

Sadly, now that I’m working again I have money to travel but no time for it.

6. Read 100 books.

I’m at 52 right now – 25 behind schedule. I don’t think I’ll be able to make this goal this year, but I should be able to get closer once a couple approaching academic deadlines pass and I have time to read again.

Overall

I think I’m in denial about achieving my goals. I’m going to keep trying, but it seems there’s a lot popping up that’s taking up my time (unexpected overtime at work due to kiddos in crisis, opportunities for academic projects that I don’t want to pass up, etc). Things are settling down, I hope, so I should be able to focus on writing more.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Summer 2017 goal review

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this summer.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

I’ve finished several chapters of a novel, plus a short story. So, about halfway there.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’m two behind now on this.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

My academic timeline was pushed back a couple months, but I’m still planning on writing this book this fall.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

This will never be a goal again because live events, at least the ones around here, are a waste of time. The only people who came to the last event were friends and family of the writers. And as much as I appreciate my grandma stopping by to say hi, she can buy books from me any time. That said, I’m doing a presentation in a couple weeks at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (okay, so not THE Iowa Writer’s Workshop, just a writing workshop at the University of Iowa, but whatever) that may be interesting. Then a couple local-ish events in August, a reading in October, and nothing else unless it’s free to participate and I don’t have anything else going on.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

A research assistantship position ended this spring, so I recently got a part-time job as a youth residential counselor. While I’m enjoying it so far, it doesn’t leave much time for travel. I went to Michigan a couple times in June, and I’m heading to the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies in a couple weeks. No international travel other than Canada, though.

However, I did book tickets just this week to go back to India in January! I’m taking my kid with me, and we’re hitting the Taj Mahal before heading south to work on a project. I’m super excited about this trip.

6. Read 100 books.

I’m at 43 right now – 7 behind schedule. I caught up a bit earlier this summer, but I’m falling behind again. Still, I think I can still catch up and make this goal this year.

Overall

I’m still in the game. This past semester kicked my butt, and while I’m pretty much recovered, my new job is consuming a lot of my time – plus (fingers crossed!) I’ll be starting my dissertation in the next couple weeks. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, but on the plus side, my new job has given me a lot of story ideas that I really need to write to help me process working with this particular population. Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll come pretty close to meeting my goals this year.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Spring 2017 goal review

sand castle

Much needed self-care at Coronado Beach, CA

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this spring.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

If you count chapters, I’ve almost done this! I finished the first two chapters of a novel I’ll really excited about, tentatively titled Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’m not there yet, but I have several longer short stories that are in the pipeline, and I hope to have at least one done by May for an event I’m doing.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

I have to take a dissertation class next fall but since my dissertation proposal will (fingers crossed!) be done by then, I plan to work on a draft of a research how-to book for the course instead. Don’t expect updates on this for awhile.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

I’m on fire here! Kind of. I’m signed up for the Rock Town Lit Fest in early May, the I.O.W.A. book fair in August, and a Read Local event in October. I’ll try to add more events as I hear about them.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

Due to some stupid international relations stuff, I’m not sure how feasible this’ll be. I’m in the planning stages for a trip back to India around Christmas. I was in San Diego a couple weeks ago and wanted to hop the border to Tijuana, but we didn’t have enough time – although if Canada doesn’t count (I’m planning a trip to Banff over the summer), then maybe Mexico doesn’t count either?

At the very least, I’ve been able to travel a lot recently. Three weeks in India at the beginning of the year, a road trip to Savannah and Raleigh-Durham over spring break, and a week-long conference in San Diego. That comes out to a trip a month, so I’m doing pretty good.

6. Read 100 books.

So far, I’ve read 21 books this year, which leaves me only 4 behind schedule. I had a lot of time to read in India (I’m not looking forward to the ereader ban on flights through Abu Dhabi or Doha, the two airports I’ve flown through in the past – what else do you do on a 28-hour trip??), plus I’ve been sneaking in books as a break from my overwhelming schedule this semester.

Overall

I’m actually in a good place regarding my year’s goals. Part of it, I think, is because I’m so busy, not in spite of it. When I don’t have projects and deadlines, I tend to procrastinate, but when I have to be careful about my time management, I get more done.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Weekend Writing Warrior 6/12/16 #8Sunday

coverFor June I’m continuing to pull from my short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier.

It’s eleven stories about veterans and their relationships with family and friends.

Today’s excerpt comes from the second of five related stories, “A Family Tradition.” This one is about Maarten, a man who served during WWII and has spent his life battling his father Joos’s legacy, as conveyed by his single mother, Ophélie.

In this excerpt, continuing from last week’s, he’s just arrived home from a Scouting trip with his sons, to find a strange car in the driveway. Once inside, he comes face-to-face with his father, whom he hasn’t had any contact with in over thirty years – although his father claims to have written to him on a regular basis. Maarten’s mother never told him any of this.

* * * * * * *

“Listen, Maarten.” Joos’s words were clipped. “Your mother left me – I didn’t leave her. She thought I was larger than life, that I would somehow carry her away from a farmer’s life and make all her big dreams come true, but times were tough for us, starting out. She was impatient, and less than honest herself, because the big inheritance she’d always mentioned never materialized. I tried to support us, God knows I tried. I wanted to work it out, to make our family work, but Ophélie wanted excitement. She wanted some hero—”

“Which you’re not.”

* * * * * * *

promo

The Futility of Loving a Soldier is on sale this week for just $.99 – pick up a copy to read more about Joos and Maarten, as well as how the legacy extends through three more generations of sons. Available everywhere – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords

Then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Marketing for Writers and Readers

At this week’s meeting for my local writing group, I presented on the topic of marketing for writers with a focus on readers. Here are my notes.

RARE – respect, authenticity, reciprocity, expertise – FROM THE READERS’ PERSPECTIVE

Why focus on marketing:

  • Short-range – sell books
  • Mid-range – get reviews
  • Long-range – build a fanbase to sell more books

Who to market to:

  • Family and friends
    • Pros: feel happy/obligated to buy your stuff
    • Cons: Amazon cracking down on reviews by people you know, not as believable because people think they’ll be positive no matter what
  • Other writers – very common
    • Pros: often reciprocity with reviews, sales, and promos
    • Cons: hard to jump from writers to readers with content, reciprocity expected even if you don’t like what they write/different genre
  • READERS!!
    • Pros: readers want to read good books
    • Cons: hard to find, already bombarded by tons of ads/spam

Where to market:

  • In person
    • Direct sales to family and friends
    • Book fairs and readings
  • Online
    • Social media
      • Followers – real vs numbers
      • Comments on other blogs (indirectly only)
      • Targeted ads
      • Who’s seeing these posts?
    • Website
    • Newsletters/mailing lists
      • Your own
      • Group’s

When to market:

  • Daily – buzz about your books on social media
    • 20% formula (only 20% of posts about your books)
    • 5-3-2 formula (5 should be content from others, 3 should be content from you, 2 should be personal status updates)
  • Pre-launch
    • Snippets
    • Cover reveal
    • Pre-orders
  • Sale
    • Acceptable to buzz more frequently

What to market:

  • Your books
    • Snippets/excerpts
    • Random facts/research relating to your books
    • Links to purchase
  • Yourself
    • Blog posts
    • Social media posts that show your personality
  • Other people’s stuff
    • Reciprocity principle
    • Set your own personal guidelines for what you’ll share

How to market:

  • Social media
    • Twitter – quick status updates, links
    • Facebook – longer posts
    • Pinterest – images related to your works
    • Other sites – Google+, Tsu, etc – who’s there??
  • Website
    • Central place to send people to
    • Include link in signatures and blog comments
    • Provide meaningful content for your target audience
  • Ads
    • Newsletters/mailing lists
      • BookBub, Ereader News Today, etc – how big is their reach vs price
    • Facebook
      • Who are you targeting?
      • Impressions vs sales
    • Goodreads, Amazon
      • Expensive
      • Check conversion rates
    • Giveaways
      • Rafflecopter
        • Multi-author vs one author
        • Cost of prizes related to how many people enter
      • Goodreads giveaway – lots add to TBR, but few reviews
    • Mailing list
      • Frequency
        • set number vs something to share
        • too often = annoying, too infrequently = forget who you are
      • Mailchimp
    • Book fairs
      • Very low RTI – cost vs books sold; publicity?
      • Iowa City Book Festival, Midwest Writing Center events
    • Swag
      • Bookmarks
      • Business cards
      • Trinkets/widgets related to your book
    • Free books
      • Pros – new readers, possibly more reviews, push you up in rankings for later
      • Cons – too many free books to read, don’t see a bump later, only one book out
      • Most common with series book #1, short stories

Branding

  • Consistent look
    • Same picture for everything
    • Same bio
    • Similar color schemes/layouts on covers and across online
  • Tagline
    • “Writing stories of love and betrayal, sacrifice and redemption”
    • “Adventure romance”
  • Similar genres/themes
    • Pen name

Role of reader

  • “Don’t be a dick.” – Will Wheaton
  • How is your content benefiting them?
    • Entertainment
    • Information
    • Free stuff
    • Not annoying
  • Engagement
    • Social media – conversation
    • Ask them what they want – survey/poll
    • #QOTD

Resources

Thoughts on author events

IC book festival
At the Iowa City Book Festival with EP author Timothy C Ward

I’ve done three author events in the past couple months: The Iowa City Book Festival in October, a local author book fair at a nearby mall Thanksgiving weekend, and a reading/book fair event at a local library the first weekend in December. Here are my thoughts:

  • The success of these events depends entirely on how you define success. I didn’t sell many books, but I did a lot of networking. I represented my publisher, Evolved Publishing, for the first event, and we gave out a lot of information about them to people either looking to get published or not satisfied with their current publishing situation. For the other two events, I chatted with a bunch of local authors.
  • Being prepared matters… For each event, I had a ton of books (both mine and other EP authors’), bookmarks, and business cards. For the publisher events, I also made signs with cover images by genre, so readers could more easily find what they were interested in. Conversely, I had a couple people wanting a print copy of The Futility of Loving a Soldier at the mall event, but I didn’t have any yet (poor planning on my part). Fortunately they came back for the library event, but that’s not something I can always count on.

    grandma

    Posing with my biggest fan – my grandma

  • …but not as much as human interaction… Some of the tables at the events were pretty empty and the books weren’t great, but the authors chatted up passersby to make some sales. As an introvert, I’m not very good at this, but it seemed effective.
  • …or location. The IC festival was outdoors and COLD. We were tucked away, off the main pedestrian walkway, and a lot of people didn’t know we were there. Same with the mall book fair; although indoors, we still didn’t have a great location – nowhere near the mall’s bookstore, for example. Like with all sales, if your customers don’t know you’re there, you won’t sell anything.
  • Plants make you feel better. After sitting ignored or not having any sales, it’s always nice to see a familiar face. My grandma, for example, comes to all my local events, and someone from my in-person writing group usually stops by too. Having people you know drop by (and hopefully buy a book) will make the event more bearable.

Overall, even using a fluid definition of success, the events I did weren’t successful. I came out ahead financially (barely), but it was still a sizable chunk of time to do each event. I may still do events next year, but it’ll be ones that are close and don’t require a fee. When your time is limited, even exposure and networking can be expensive.

What are your thoughts on multi-author events? As a reader, do you attend? As a writer, are they worth your time?

library

At a local library event

#Free story for Halloween

timsarapromo

FREE psychological horror story to celebrate Halloween!

Tim and Sara” – 4.7 stars on Amazon

The victim of debilitating flashbacks, Tim is content to spend the rest of his life at Kirkbride, a state mental hospital. But his friend and fellow resident Sara is concerned that she has to save her soul before it’s too late, and so she devises a plan to break them out of the hospital. Can Tim help his friend while holding onto what’s left of his sanity?

FREE October 29th – November 2nd.

Iowa City Book Fair on Saturday, Oct 3rd

One of my goals for this year is to improve my marketing. In addition to running various ads, I’m also trying to fit in more appearances – book signings, author fairs, etc.

This Saturday, I’ll be at the Iowa City Book Fair, part of their annual book festival, running the table for my publisher, Evolved Publishing.

Stop by the downtown pedestrian mall from 10-5 to say hi, pick up a copy of The Lone Wolf and works by other EP authors, and get lots of free swag.

And the winners are…

I just finished up a big contest to celebrate launch week, giving away two signed print copies and 3 ebook copies of my novel, The Lone Wolf. The results are in:

Print winners: Naomi and Sarah

Ebook winners: Heather, Heidi, and Becky

Congrats to the winners! And thanks so much to everyone who participated – now that you’re connected to my updates somehow, you’ll have a competitive edge the next time a contest roles around. 🙂

If you’d like to get even more insight and prizes, consider joining the Evolved Publishing Street Team. In return for spreading the word about EP, you get sneak peaks on upcoming novels, special giveaways, and the ear of your favorite writers. Win-win all around!

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