Looking at 2015

Many people post about New Year’s Resolutions, and WordPress will be flooded with them next weekend. I’ve always avoided that, but like to create a loose business plan. It’s hard to look ahead without looking back, so that’s what I’m doing today. This will probably not be one of my 300 word posts.

Last year about this time, I committed to getting new business cards, adding one new version of social media to my arsenal, and publishing two new novels.

I got and distributed the business cards. These were mostly left at various bulletin boards, or at the table in a restaurant somewhere. So far, I have no idea whether I’ve accomplished something or not. I know it can’t hurt, but I wish there were a way to track performance.

I signed up for Goodreads. I haven’t been overly impressed, but I’m probably not working it the way I should either. I think it’s “neat,” in that it provides another way for someone to discover my stories.

As far as the two novels go, that didn’t quite work out. I wrote two new novels, but only published Will O’ the Wisp. I learned by publishing Arson during the Summer that Summer is a bad time to release a book.

It’s a good idea to put a manuscript away for a while before editing it. I finished The Playground in May. To distract myself, I turned to short fiction. This short form stuff turned into the Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. The plan changed when I decided to publish it.

Both Wisp and Notebook deserved some promotional effort, and The Playground took a back seat.

On a wild hair, I decided to make Lisa the robot girl into the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. Then I had to figure out what to do with her. I ordered some fresh blog art, and it was very well received. She got asked occasionally to make a guest appearance on various blogs, and these were always fun, because I had to write them in character.

When it came time to go on blog tours, I added Lisa to the mix when I pre-wrote my tour posts. Then I got the crazy idea of making posters about the books, featuring Lisa.

The little push I organized for Notebook was very well received, and the posters the hosts put up were quite popular. The paid promotions for Wisp were also popular, but I didn’t have a ton of extras made up.

I’ve been holding back posters for The Playground, featuring Lisa, for months. I’ll try to publish it sometime in late Winter of 2016.

I also had Sean make up some paper dolls of Lisa, simply because it’s hard for an ebook only author to hand out swag. The post announcing the paper dolls, and the page where they permanently reside were two of my most popular posts for 2015.

My intention was always to make this blog into ground zero for my self publishing efforts. That remains my intent. If you want to reach me, this is the best way unless I’ve given you my email address.

My growth rate for Entertaining Stories has always been slow, despite posting about five times per week. I simply accept it for what it is, and keep forging ahead. I seem to attract the kind of people who interact, and support my projects when I need them to, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

Part of the job involves supporting others when they need it. I’ve made my blog available for others, and some of those posts were very popular this year. Mae Clair recently pushed into my top ten posts of all time, so my readers appreciate meeting guests.

I’ve learned a bit about being a good host, and being a good guest. Being a good guest involves delivering what the host asks for. Many of my guest spots were custom written based upon the host’s request. Some of them were by Lisa, two were by Lorelei the Muse, and one asked me to bring the raven of doubt along. Aside from those character posts, I also appeared on various blog as myself this year.

Being a good guest also involves surfing back through the host site and participating in the comments. When someone responds directly to the host, it’s still okay to hit the like button. Many times they leave a comment for me, and I try to respond to every one of them. My habit is to return for three consecutive days.

Serving as a host is also important. A popular guest can drive blog traffic the other direction, and I gained followers by hosting others. It is expected for a host to write an intro, and even a final word to go along with the guest spot. If you’ve read and enjoyed someone’s book, it’s nice to say so before handing it over to the guest. It’s also important to set the site up to allow visitors to comment.

I appeared on two sites this year where I had to enter my email address, then manipulate a Captcha before I could answer a comment. I was lucky to even get the comment if that’s what the visitor had to go through.

I stepped up my game when it comes to re-blogging information my readers might like. One of the things I do is try to re-blog the source material. I’ve tried to read something that turned out to be a re-blog, then discover it links to another blogger who re-blogged the content. People aren’t going to go through all of that to read the source material. Re-blog maybe, re-re-blog never.

I try to keep Entertaining Stories looking fresh. I’m really going to miss the frozen hand, and the electronic snow falling across it looked great. I’m on the lookout for some good wallpaper for next month.

I didn’t even know what a “street team” was the first time I tried one. I’m a big believer in the power of a street team now. I’ll put out a call for The Playground soon, and try to get a team assembled for its release. It worked quite well for Will O’ the Wisp, and Experimental Notebook.

Some of the popular things (beyond Lisa the robot girl) were my party stop for the Rave Reviews Book Club, Macabre Macaroni, and The Idea Mill posts. It seems like a good idea to keep doing some of that in 2016.

My membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club continues to provide dividends. I became member of the week this fall, and got invited to appear on Blog Talk Radio. My Experimental Notebook was a President’s Pick.They support my efforts on Twitter, and that really helps too.

2015 turned out to be a good year. My sales increased, I made new friends, and I expanded my footprint. I plan on 2016 being even better, but that is a different post.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Looking at 2015

  1. Eh, you published two works, so I say it works out as a success. Sounds like a big year in general with everything that you did. As far as the blog growth goes, I noticed that WordPress wasn’t nearly as happening this year as it was in 2014. Blogging in general might be slowing down as people look for the next Internet soapbox. Things will probably rise again after the new year too.

    I never make resolutions. No reason to add more disappointment to my life since I’d forget them before Valentine’s Day is even a glint in an adman’s eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While it can always be bigger, I’m not disappointed with 2015. I do the business plan instead of the resolutions. It’s easier to check something off a list on my schedule than make a permanent life change.

      Like

  2. Sounds good!! Hope 2016 is good to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve had a good year and your efforts behind the success are tremendous. I applaud you. I know for me, I came out of nowhere in 2013 totally clueless about blogging and my book would have faded into oblivion had it not been for the wonderful people on WordPress, their support, and the things I learned form them. I know I have a lot of work in front of me to get things on track for my upcoming book. Funny thing, I still have social anxiety about birthing a baby in public. I’ve never considered myself a shy one, but there is something about the whole process that makes me feel timid.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some great goals Craig and I’m sure you’ll achieve them. A few weeks ago I was full of enthusiasm. This week I seem to be having a ‘why am I bothering at all, everything I do is rubbish, week’. I think we all have those and as creative people we just have to ride the rollercoaster. I’ll open my diary again in a few days and I’m sure I’ll get the motivation back again. Hope you have a great New Year all I’ll be looking forward to following the blog in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you accomplished a heck of a lot in 2015! I also think it’s good motivation to look back over the year (I’ll be doing that tomorrow) as well as looking ahead to the next. I set goals for myself but if I don’t meet them, I cut myself the slack to slip up now and then.

    And hey, that’s very cool that I became a top ten post! Woohoo! That’s all due to your fabulous readers who always provide engagement, and to you for creating a fun place to hang out.

    My blog growth has been painfully slow over the years too, but my readers almost always engage in comments and I’d rather have that than a big blog with little interaction.

    Looking forward to a lot more from you in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like you achieved a hell of a lot in 2015, Craig. Hope 2016 is just as successful, and also a happy and peaceful one for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You sure have worked hard to make 2015 a good year. May 2016 be at least as good!

    Liked by 1 person

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