2020 Business Plan

I just recapped 2019 (Link) and consider it a success. It wasn’t exactly profitable, but I learned some things and was able to publish three titles last year.

One of the main things is that I can write more than one story at a time. I call the secondary one my side project and chip away at it when my main project bogs down. I’ve been known to park my brain for weeks dwelling on a plot issue, then hit the keyboard after I’ve worked it all out. It’s worse while working on my trilogy.

By having a side project, those lost weeks are pointed elsewhere, and somehow the main problem works itself out anyway. My side project jumps ahead, and when it’s time for it to emerge from its cocoon as the main project, I may be 50K words into it.

It’s kind of like how I keep multiple storyboards going. I always have something ready to start.

I intend to keep doing this in 2020. I don’t have a side project right now, but once HMS Lanternfish hits somewhere around 50K words, I’m going to start another one.

I finally wrote that cyberpunk story I’ve been bringing up for years. It needs a cover, a final read through, and formatting, but it’s very close. I enjoyed taking modern problems and poking them with a stick to see how our world might look in a hundred years. It’s called Grinders, and will be coming your way in early 2020.

With an incredible stroke of luck, I could release it for Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Rat, a big part of the story goes down at the parade in San Francisco, where it is also the Year of the Rat, and a couple of rats play an important role in the story. Yours Truly is also Year of the Rat. That’s some serious juju right there, and I’d like to publish it then.

I don’t think it’s a deal killer if I don’t hit that target, the best laid plans of rats and men, etc.

Grinders is my stand-alone title for 2020. Sequels will eat up the rest of the time. I can’t seem to give up stand-alone work, and it’s something I really enjoy.

As far as sequels are concerned, I need to produce the next Lanternfish tale in 2020. I’m working diligently on it, and would love to have it available before the schools get out. My track record at that deadline is horrible. I don’t seem to have any luck with summer releases, so I dream of having it ready before then.

Another loose target is the Halloween season. I have this earmarked for the next story about Lizzie and The Hat. They are finally going to face actual vampires. This won’t be anything like you’ve seen before, and will take place mostly in the country music environment. They’re going to have to stalk their enemy across rodeo dances, county fairs, and such. There are some fun scenes already planned out, and Lizzie is going to tire quickly of this kind of music.

There is also a new character that I can’t wait to bring into the tale. I see him as a possible recurring character. If you’re old enough, you remember how James Garner always seemed to have that one smarmy guy show up in his work. My new character will fill that role, and could fit into future stories. Besides, he has a speech impediment that The Hat will make fun of. That brings out Lizzie’s “social justice warrior” and adds a few fun interactions.

This story will be the side project once I nudge Lanternfish along a bit. After it moves into the main slot, I might start another side project. This one would be a post-apocalyptic story with many earmarks of a western. I will also return to first person POV in this one.

This is an ambitious year, but I think I can make it happen. I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve after last year. First is that Grinders is already written, much like the first Lanternfish book was. Second is that stories about Lizzie and The Hat are generally short novels. If it works, the post-apocalyptic thing could be ready prior to 2021.

I have one problem that I’m trying to sort out. Maybe you can help me with that. I’m convinced that my best promotional effort is to publish the next book. Being a self publisher is a numbers game. I’ve been around long enough to see people fade after a book or two. I’m not one of those people.

Readers could take authors more seriously with a number of titles under their belt. That’s pure theory, and they would have to be good stories. I feel like I’ve reached that level, and could attract new readers by having a decent catalog of titles.

The problem arises in timing of those releases. I ran into a problem of releasing two books sixty days apart. Viral Blues did well enough, but I think Serang suffered because of this. This is a complex problem, but here are some of the factors to consider.

• I have a personal phobia of the summer months for a new release. I’ve never done well during summer, but that limits me to the nine other months. That becomes a book every three months during the sweet spot.

• Promotional fatigue is a real thing. It hits my blog followers, online circle, and it hits me, too. I will need to identify many more sites to promote my work. I don’t want to wear out my regular group of hosts. I like my hosts and regulars. I want to balance being a friend, offering my space to them, and being able to promote my own projects on occasion.

• Lanternfish is a trilogy. I don’t expect much fanfare for the second book other than from those who loved the first one. In my imagination, book two may sell better after the trilogy concludes. With this thought, could a summer release for book two serve just as well? That would help spread things out around the year. Am I selling the second book of a trilogy short?

• Could a blog tour with two or more books on the same tour have any benefit? This would cut down the number of promo posts, but each title would have to share stops along the tour. Is there a way to use pre-release sales in this scheme? You can have one book right now, and the other will be delivered in 60 days?

• Does the crack dealer method still work? Meaning does a giveaway for book one help move sales for book two or three? It used to work, but has that also changed?

Personally, I don’t like the idea of giving my work away. If $2.99 is going to break someone’s budget, they’d be better of paying the power bill. I have to admit, there might be a strategic advantage to some freebies. There used to be one, but things change so fast I don’t know anymore.

As far as titles that could serve as the gateway drug to my writing, The Playground kind of leads to Viral Blues. The Hat leads to Viral Blues and any other book in the series. Serang and Voyage of the Lanternfish could serve the same purpose for the Lanternfish trilogy. Honestly, 2020 might be too soon for this concept, but I’m open to suggestions if you have them.

I want to keep blogging two to three times per week. Yeah, it’s a place to talk about my work, but it serves its own purpose, too. I like chatting with you guys. I’m not afraid to talk about my writing efforts, but sometimes you get bulldogs, sourdough bread, camping trips and other things that add a bit of quality to life.

Otto is helping Dad today.

Story Empire has been a good thing for me, too. It challenges me to come up with appropriate topics, and while I don’t always pull it off, I come fairly close to the mark. I don’t know how much more I have to share there, but there are always new writers coming along, so revamping some things might be possible. That usually takes me a couple of times per month, so I’ll be seeing many of you over there during 2020.

These are ambitious goals, but they are within reach. I might not hit all of them, but I intend to give it my best effort. I hope you guys will come along for the ride. Do you ever make a business plan for the year?

33 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Writing

33 responses to “2020 Business Plan

  1. I always do plans for the coming year but mine are kind of vague. 2020 is a bit more on track for me. I’m going to do a February release and most likely a summer or fall release. Having books to springboard into others is always a plus, and even if you don’t trot them out as free, you can do reduced pricing specials.

    As for summer, it was always good to me–until recently. I’ve had several releases in June that sold well, but when Cusp of Night released in June of 2018 it wallowed. To make it worse, I had dumped more promotion into that book than any other I released previously. I was really hoping for a big splash and I got crickets (compared to my other releases). That’s why I’m hedging on when to release my short story collection. Part of me says I should hold off until September. I guess I’ll just see how it goes.

    I am really looking forward to Grinders, more Hat, and more Lanternfish. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to work on more than one project at a time. You’ve been highly productive that way!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hadn’t really considered a 99 cent promo, but it could be more beneficial in the long run. It could also be possible that genre matters for summer releases. If I ever write that colonial African story with a romance tie, that could work for summer. I hope you have an outstanding 2020, and my door is always open if you need a place to promote.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I looked at my mysteries, and Lyrical hasn’t published one of them in the summer, so I don’t know if summers are good or bad for new books. My romances at Lyrical never did well enough for me to decide. I remember hearing that summer’s a good time to publish romances and beach reading novels, though, so maybe it depends on the genre? Is there one time that’s better for sci-fi/fantasy? I don’t know. I do think that publishing books too close together works against you. You’re almost competing with yourself. And I don’t think promoting two new books at a time would work for the same reason. Lyrical has reduced the price of a book similar to a new one that’s coming out with each new release I do, so I think that works. They make a former book 99 cents or $1.99. What can it hurt to try that?
    If you really don’t like to publish in the summer, though, what if you did a book in Jan.or early Feb., another book in late May, and a third in Sept.? If you repeated that pattern each year, you’d have a few months between each book. But it sounds like what you have planned for this year is do-able, even though it is ambitious. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That pattern of releases sounds perfect. It just requires getting the MSs ready in that time frame. Grinders could come out by Chinese New Year, but then I have to get the others out on time. May will be the hardest one to hit. October should be easy enough with this much time. Thanks for weighing in with the romance concept. I’ve often wondered that. I know books sell in the summer, but wondered if they were all romance. Thanks for the luck, I’ll take all I can get. Happy New Year.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree entirely with you about freebies, “If $2.99 is going to break someone’s budget, they’d be better of paying the power bill.”
    I do a lot of novellas at £0.99 mainly because they are 20k-30k words. One problem is that Amazon doesn’t actually give you very much of the money

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t understand why summer release is a bust for you. I read more in summer. I must be odd.
    I certainly do think there’s merit in a brief period of free. Like, free, but for one day only. We don’t want you to give away the farm, and I don’t know that free should apply to NEW books, hm?
    I agree more books probably inspires more confidence in the customers’ ‘chance a purchase will result in pleasurable reading’ particularly since you have readers and reviews. Gah I should really help with that bit. I’ll do that. I really will.
    Anyway, I find your plan reasonable and look forward to your new brainchildren.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I always like hearing from you, because you represent consumers. We may have solved the summer mystery in the comments. Those summer sales could all be romance novels, or some other genre that I don’t write. There probably is a strategic way to use free and 99¢ sales, but I agree it isn’t for new titles.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, you can guess by my Hallmark aversion, I don’t read many romances. I read the ones you have to read to be well read — the classics apart from Anna Karenina (BLECH!) and a few modern tales. Nothing that would be in the genre at the drugstore. Although, I have been known to pick a friend’s copy up and read aloud scenes of fair maidens being taken roughly in the barn, because you know, it embarrasses her. Heh!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ha ha! I love it. There has to be a key to summer books. Something I don’t write, but something. My wife has those damned movies on right now. There has to be a 12 step program for someone like her.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like a good year is ahead for you. At the very least a busy one. Now, I need to go get the song ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ out of my head thanks to your post title.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Happy New Year! Those are some great goals. I hope you manage to pull it off, and look forward to reading the new books when they’re released. I was born in the year of the rat too, and really love rats (I used to have a pair of pet ones).

    Personally, I’d make use of the Summer months to spread things out, and use that excuse to spread out your promotion too. To be honest, book sales don’t always depend on the time of year they’re released. I’ve had books I’ve published in the Summer do well, and others not so well. But I’ve had the same for the other seasons too, so… *shrugs*

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Those sound like great goals, Craig. Best of luck with everything. I’m looking forward to the new reads. I used to set goals, but these days, I wait to see what life throws at me and do my best within that, lol. Between waiting for hip surgery and suffering through my fourth virus of this season, I’m currently in hunkering down mode! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Consider a .99 promotion. I did that with the first two of my Driscoll Lake series just before releasing book three. Not sure if it helped, but it sure couldn’t hurt.

    I think spreading out the releases helps. One thing with Serang is that you released it in November and lots of writers were participating in NaNo. That, along with the upcoming holiday season, probably didn’t help. I’m no expert but that’s my two-cents worth.

    Looking forward to your new works!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like your detailed plan, Craig. Like Mae, mine is more vague, but I need to sit down and make something more concrete. Zombies in Viral Blues and now vampires? So excited!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. For me, I’ve tried to be consistent in bringing out an e-book every six months. That’s worked out to be in May and November. The hope is that readers will start expecting the next book and be open to a purchase.

    My only thought on summer is that people are doing “outside” things like sports that require them to actively participate. So they have to put down the book or e-reader to do that. For me, personally, I’m in my garden, but the effect is the same. Can’t have the hoe and a book in the same two hands at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You have lofty goals for 2020, Craig! I think you can easily meet them based on what you did in 2019. I have no idea what time of year is best to release. Maybe taking a look at the big publishers and seeing what months they release the most might be a clue. I can’t wait for the new Lizzie and the Hat Book! I know it will be entertaining!! Best wishes for a great year of success!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I ALWAYS enjoy reading your business plans, Craig! You’re so ambitious and have such great follow-through. And I really love the way your Year of the Rat part of the plan meshes together. I wish you all the best! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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