I intended to wait a day or two to write this, but I have time right now and decided not to wait. I'll probably get lost in a sea of New Years Resolutions, and the word count may scare some readers away, but here goes.
Being a writer involves many skills, and I want to improve all of them. I've written before how there is no magic bullet that will put one of us over the top. It takes work, and improvement, on all fronts to get there. Identifiable places to work on are:
There are several sub-bullets like inspiration, social media, and research, but you get the point.
I think I'm pretty good with inspiration, and Lorelei the Muse takes pretty good care of me in this department. I use my push feeds to keep my imagination well lubricated, and film also helps a bit. Now, with the new X-Box, maybe this new media will play a role too. I'm not going to dwell too hard on this part of being an author. Maybe not everyone is like this, but to me ideas are easy to come by.
Personal challenges have served me well over the years. It makes me work to accomplish new things, but I may have slacked off in the outlining phase in 2016. I need to make sure my preferred three act structure has all the required beats and not trust to faith that something will come to me after I start. This can be a full outline, or even bookend outlines, but I need to tighten this process up.
Craft can apply to promotion too, and I can't decide whether to discuss it here, or under the next heading. I've learned over time to write tighter on the blog. I started out with 2000 word posts, and today many posts are 400 words. This is a double edged sword, because I tend to work through a novel with the same brevity these days. The answer is to have more situations to create a novel. The risk is too many situations that don't drive the plot or character arc. At least I'm aware of this.
I currently have two different craft books on my Kindle app, and I need to get on with reading them. One has been there for nearly a year. Which brings me to reading in general. Reading is important to both craft and concept, and I need to do more of it.
Writing is something I do for fun, but seeking commercial success is part of my personal challenge. I believe it pushes me to improve my skills by putting my work out for scrutiny. A trunk full of stories doesn't provide much feed back. Because of this, promotion is a necessary evil.
2016 marked a big improvement in this area for me. Some things didn't pay off, others were mediocre, and some were rousing successes. This is a good place to keep what works, and either improve or discard that which doesn't.
Social media requires work, there's no other way to put it. This blog remains the main focus for me, and it makes sense, since I can write longer pieces than say Twitter allows. My views are up considerably, in fact it's 50% more than last year.
Other forms of social media work, and I've moved books because of Twitter. I'll keep honing my skills in this arena. Facebook quickly became a distraction for me, but it has some benefits. I find many photos and pieces of art to inspire me. I'm a very visual person, and a piece of art can inspire a whole story, and has. It's a great source of ideas for Lisa Burton too.
I need to find a way to make Facebook produce a few sales too. I'm kind of at a loss here, but I pushed a few posts and it drove people to me to a small degree.
I've considered additional forms of social media, but I have to consider available time too. Google Plus has some appeal, but the best reports are from Google themselves. Authors just aren't out there singing its praises. I'm open for comments in this arena. A friend mentioned one called Triber at one time too, but I haven't done a lick of research.
Being a visual person, I'm surprised I haven't looked into Pinterest or some of the other forms. I'm afraid I'd just waste more time surfing through science fiction art or other things. If some of you know how to expand an author's footprint here, I'm open to suggestions. This includes Instagram and other formats too.
Lisa Burton as my spokesmodel works well for me. Her show promoting characters from other books is popular enough to keep going. I may not be able to post one every week, but that's more dependent upon other authors than me. I guess what I'm saying is not meeting a goal doesn't always equal failure. This is a good spot and I'm keeping it. They will post on Thursdays, and I hope to get enough volunteers to keep it fairly regular.
I have a folder full of images to help Lisa with my own book promotions, and I'll be talking to Sean Harrington soon about them. Her blog images need to keep updated too, and I commissioned an interesting piece over the weekend with ideas to use it over at Story Empire. Her sign shaker image was really useful, in that I can write whatever I want on her sign. This lets me use it as many times as I like.
Lisa has drifted across several decades with her style, and I may let her explore the 60s, 70s, and 80s this year too. I even have one cool image of a Gibson Girl from the late 1800s – early 1900s I may base something on.
It looks like I've dedicated a lot of space to promotion when compared to the others. That ought to tell me something right there.
So what are my 2017 plans? I have two books I want to put out this year, The Yak Guy Project, and The Enhanced League. I have three ideas for shorter stories, and they may reach novella length. If they don't, I'm sure there will be another Experimental Notebook. I'd like to release a 99¢ novella, but I'm not making it a goal. The stories will tell me what to do after I write them.
There is the possibility of an invitation to another anthology, and maybe one of those will fit the bill. I have to write them before I do anything else.
As far as the writing goes, I want to outline my science fiction novel, tentatively called Grinders. I'd like to actually start writing it, but there is going to be some promo after the two projects above, and I need to allow time for that. I can fill in the gaps with micro-fiction and short stories… and reading.
I need to read more of the things I actually want to read. I enjoyed all the beta projects, and believe I helped those authors to some degree. ARC reading is fun too, but I need to read more of the things I choose. This may require me to say “No” on occasion to a request. I have a hard time with that, but may have to accept it. This doesn't quite read the way I want it to. I enjoyed all the books I read. For my own advancement, I need to read more hard core science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy books. In many cases this means traditional publishing.
Fun has to enter into the mix too. There really isn't any other reason to do all this, because the money doesn't justify it. I enjoy Lisa Burton Radio, and it helps me expand my footprint. I'm going to need places to promote my wares, and maybe someone will be there for me if I help them promote. Lisa Burton Radio is staying.
I also signed up to host tours again for the Rave Reviews Book Club. This helps those authors, and it brings me traffic. There really isn't a down side to this, so it's pretty obvious. I'm still open to hosting my friends too.
In the pure enjoyment category is Macabre Macaroni and The Idea Mill. I'm keeping them simply because it makes me happy. I get some fun conversations going with both of them, and even a bit of feedback.
Story Empire has a ton of potential, and working with others teaches me new things. I hope we can step things up over there and expand it into a valuable resource for our contributors. We have tentative plans to discuss that sometime this month.
I'm debating submitting The Yak Guy Project to a small press publisher. I'm on the fence about this, but it's in my mind. If there is any extra money, I would like to try an audio book too. I already have suitable titles, and maybe it would help me reach a new audience. This isn't someplace to dive blindly in, and research is required.
In the miracle department, I'd like to have one more really good idea. Lorelei isn't the Muse of self promotion, and I'm afraid I'm on my own here. Lisa Burton Radio is good, her spokesmodel work is good, maybe there is something else nobody thought of that will come to me. This usually requires a peaceful camping trip somewhere that allows my mind to rest.
A lot of words with less hard-core goals this year. I tend to set deadlines and bust my ass to meet them, but 2017 isn't the year for that. It's more about keeping what works, and making small improvements and tweaks.
Let me know if you have anything more to offer. I'd like to hear about other forms of social media. I hope all your business plans work out in 2017.