Business Plan 2021

It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.

I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.

Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.

A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.

Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.

It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.

For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.

This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.

The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.

Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.

I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.

Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.

By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.

I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.

The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.

Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.

I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.

I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.

Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.

This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.

Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.

Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.

Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.

My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.

Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?

They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.

49 Comments

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49 responses to “Business Plan 2021

  1. Sounds like a thorough plan. I don’t really do these and just try to make progress these days. My hope is to publish the last 3 Nytefall books, which is ambitious. I have no tricks either. 99 cents seem to be moving books more often than $2.99 though.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sounds like a good plan. I make a sort of business plan too. Mine is to publish a post a week on my blog, put together and publish the poetry collection I have a bunch of poems for, finish and publish one of the stories I’m part way through writing, and check in on social media regularly (how often, and how long for, will depend how I feel and what else is happening). I usually aim for more – I was posting five days a week last year, for example – but with how the last couple of years have been, I’ve dialed it down, and think that’s more than enough to be getting on with.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your plans always sound good. I get the feeling that blog tours only really reach folks that are already familiar with one’s work. Those folks are well meaning but don’t have the time to read every book that is launched. The trick is to reach those higher numbers of folks who might be compelled to buy a book. I don’t have any answers, but I think your method of continuing to publish has a good chance to expand your readership. On the other side, I know some authors who have twenty books already published and aren’t selling any. The real answer lies in spending tons of money on PR, where the traditional presses shine. Indies still remain (with some rare exceptions) on the fringe of success. Sadly, way too many poorly written indy books are launched each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. D.L. Finn, Author

    I like your idea of a yearly plan. If I commit to something publically, it forces me to follow through. I usually have books going and know what I plan to do. I may loosen what plans I had and see what comes up after getting my final children’s book out. It’s hard to say what works for promoting, I read books by word of mouth or trusted reviews. I still keep at social media and blogs, but you are right its time consuming. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sounds like you have a well worked out plan! Hope you will get to meet your expectations. Looking forward to reading your posts

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve had to back down my expectations for the last two years. I keep getting stuck in the planning phase. What do you use for storyboarding? I’ve yet to find something I like. I’m playing with some mind mapping right now, but I’m not sure I can get structure around it once I have it done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use an app called Corkulous. I really like it, but it went away for a while. New ownership turned it into a minimal annual subscription with the promise that it will keep current with iOS and other updates. I have about seven active boards at all times. That way, I’m never without something I can jump on.

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  7. Sounds like a good plan. It would be great if you guys could check out my page! Specifically my short stories. I’m still kinda of new here and I’m trying to grow it!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Any plans I make tend to end up under the wheel of Life, so This year ‘i only have one little one … on my writing days, my goal its to knock out 3000 quality creative words … separate from editing, blog posts/comments, emails, etc … I’m giving myself to the end of January to have it hardwired into my day. 🙂

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  9. You’re amazing, Craig. I honestly don’t know how you keep up with yourself.

    Whether art, music, or literature, it seems that people nowadays have to have some sort of gimmick to get noticed. Squeaky wheel syndrome.

    I believe you hit the nail on the head though. Write more books.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Frankie is adorable! I’ve got nothing to offer in the way of promos. I’m at my wit’s end and have no idea what to do next. Nothing seems to work for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You bring up some food for thought here as far as promotion goes, Craig. I think it’s a fluid thing. What works one time may not work the next. It keeps us guessing. I chose to do an extensive blog tour with the release of Ghostly Interference, and so far it seems to be working, although interest lagged around the holidays and that is understandable. I would never choose to release a book so close to the holidays, but it was out of my hands. I have promoted it heavily on social media as well as blogs. But, I am thinking in the future, a shorter more condensed tour might work better so that everyone doesn’t get tired of seeing me pop up. I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever sold more than a handful of books on FB, but I keep posting anyway. Twitter seems to work best for me. There is no easy set-in-stone answer because it’s always changing. Sounds to me like you have a good plan laid out. I wish you the best in 2021.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sorry I’m late. I took some well-needed time off. Not enough, but it’s a start. 🙂

    I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Twitter and Instagram rock, but there’s so much anger and stupidity on FB I can only handle it in small doses lately. In 2020, I finally learned how to sell books on Twitter, which amazed me. In the past, I sold more books on FB than any other platform. So, maybe that’s one benefit of 2020 for whatever it’s worth.

    And yes, I agree. Writing the next book is the best marketing move there is. It’s also a lot more fun. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Have a happy 2021, Craig. Thank you for your books, I love them all. Reading wasn’t an easy task for me, nothing was an easy task in the last 18 months, but your books made a difference, and I look forward to embarking on a new exciting journey ( it is going to be a wreck, right?) … 😉 Be safe and well, and stick to your business plan.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I bet, since you’ve already started your books for your 2021 goal, you have time to play with the series you’re thinking about. I went to hear a super successful self-published author talk about how to market your books once, and she recommended writing your books ahead so that you could release a new series so that book 1 came out, then in three months, book 2, and then 3 months later, the next book, etc. When book 2 came out, she made book 1 @ 99cents and advertised it, then when book 3 came out, she advertised book 2, etc. It makes sense. And it worked for her. When she had 5 or 6 books in a series, she made the first book free, hoping to bring people to buy every book that came after it. It might be worth a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Business Plan 2021 – عنوان الموقع

  16. I have been noticeably absent from social media for the past couple of months. A post or two here and there, but nothing concrete. Social media is a huge time suck, and I don’t see much in the line of return either.

    I haven’t set any goals. I’ve been editing and professional writing like a fiend. This unfortunately takes time away from my personal writing. My goal is to do better at the personal writing in addition to the professional writing. Wish me luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Pingback: Business Plan 2021 — Entertaining Stories – Business, Entertainment and Technological Trends

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