My 2021 Assessment

This is an annual event here at Entertaining Stories. Before writing this, I read back through the last few years of assessments, along with business plans for coming years. What surprised me is how positive and professional they came across. That isn’t the case this year.

2021 can…

Most of this involves things in my personal life that I really can’t post about. Old What’s Her Face and I each had our own health scares this year. Hers is fine, but mine remains a bit of an unknown. I have a January appointment for follow up that I may, or may not, keep. There have been major changes in the workplace, and my father passed away on December 2nd. Recently, our grandson developed a major problem that isn’t completely solved yet. This stuff hits hard.

Most of this has been a lingering problem for the last two years. It all seemed to merge at once, kind of like one of those gigantic freeway crashes we see on the news every couple of years. There is nothing I can do about most of it, so I have to compartmentalize and deal with it as best I can.

Having said that, this used to be a writing blog, and this is a business assessment. My plan said I would only release two books in 2021, and I hit that goal. Both Lunar Boogie and Wreck of the Lanternfish are available right now. Lanternfish is still in the throes of a more demure blog tour as I write this.

Looks like this year was all about series work. I’m kind of proud of that, and frightened at the same time. I miss my stand-alone stories, and want to try writing another one of those eventually.

Publishing two, instead of three, gave me more time to experiment with other things. This was a 2021 goal and I achieved that, too. First came a summertime experiment involving two stand-alone titles; Grinders and Serang. Confession, Serang ties right into the Lanternfish trilogy.

This all stemmed from an invitation to appear on Fresh Ink Group’s blog talk radio program. I really didn’t do a lot of promo around this, but it worked out fairly well. I gave away a ton of free books, but only Serang seemed to gain reviews after the fact.

This allowed me to fine tune my plan. When October came around, I decided there are four volumes in The Hat Series. There were four weeks in the month, and a new plan got launched. I promoted each volume for a week, and ran free days for two of them. This worked even better.

I moved another ton of free books, but this time there was someplace else for readers to go. To be honest, I’m still seeing sales from the October push. It seems the crack-dealer method still has some life in it. A freebie leads to purchasing additional stories. I also combined my free days with a push by The Fussy Librarian. I can see the difference, and will probably use them again.

One of the other things I did was post more at the outer fringes of my circle. Let’s face it, my inner circle already hosted me when each volume was originally released. Since we tend to follow the same people, blog tours can become like listening to a broken record. (Wow, is that a dated statement these days.)

One of the things I noticed, and my inner circle confirmed, is that Amazon’s Pages Read seem to be where all the action is. It seems to have surpassed my actual sales, but Amazon pays me and the readers are getting to read for free. I don’t know what this means, or how to use it, but it’s an interesting observation. Maybe I can find a way to milk this like a prize cow.

With two book releases, and two month-long promo tours, there was a lot of promo. Every tour post was unique, so I was blogging, but it was all hosted elsewhere.

This final bit of December promo comes with an observation. The release of Wreck of the Lanternfish is showing an equal volume of sales for the previous volumes in the series. Could this signal that trilogies are more of a sweet spot than I anticipated? Are there a larger group that won’t start a series until they know it’s complete?

I managed to keep up with my Story Empire responsibilities, and feel like they were successful posts. Entertaining Stories suffered the most. I love this site, and want to stay in touch with everyone here. With all the life issues (particularly the life issues), combined with the extra promo, something had to give.

To be honest, I want to spend more time at the Writing Cabin and maybe even let the Research Sirens steal me away for a while. Until some things settle down, that isn’t realistic.

I have been less than creative for the last six months, but have dabbled with a side project. I don’t want to push anywhere until my personal life settles down. I’m taking life one day at a time right now.

I could be alone here, but 2020 was a better year for me. I don’t ever want to see another one like 2021.

Talk to me in the comments. I really love you guys and would like to get back to more regular interaction here.

41 Comments

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41 responses to “My 2021 Assessment

  1. Victoria Zigler

    2021 definitely had a lot to throw at you. It did me too. I think it felt even worse because of attempting to process what we’d been through in 2020 while also dealing with what 2021 had in store for us. Don’t get me wrong, there were some positives this year. But… Well, I think 2021 was a year I’m glad to see the back of. I also think it was a year for medical issues to show up or come to light, since I’m seeing a lot of that mentioned, and dealing with it myself too. Hang in there, and hope for a better 2022. That’s what I’m doing. It’s all we really can do, isn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hear ya on the balance issues. Here’s hoping 2022 gives you the time you need to drink deep from your creative well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had those years. For me, it was 2018 but all turned out okay. Personally, 2021 wasn’t bad for me. The craziness of the world is another matter. Best wishes for 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know a lot of people who seem to have taken massive hits to their personal lives. Just wasn’t a good year for most people. It doesn’t help that the world is so tense and there’s no extended period of relaxation. Even this holiday break is draining me due to stress, which is a situation I can’t go into in public. So, I feel for you, man, and hope 2022 treats you much better to make up for this horror year.

    Sounds like writing and publishing-wise, things went pretty well. As far as 2020 vs 2021, I’ve had issues with both years. Mostly from a personal life perspective since book sales for me have steadily plunged to zero throughout the 2 year period. I’ll randomly get a 15-17 book day when someone grabs all of the ‘Legends of Windemere’ books, but that’s maybe once every few months. It’s why I haven’t touched much writing since I published ‘Eulogy’ and probably won’t until end of February. There’s just no reason beyond personal enjoyment, which I have to regain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t seem to have days like your big events, but that is likely because of your series. My sales flatlined about a week before Christmas, and I assume it was a holiday thing. I purposely set lower goals this year, and will probably continue it in my 2022 planning.

      Like

  5. Gwen M. Plano

    2021 was definitely a year of ups and downs — for you and for many of us. Through it all, Craig, you’ve achieved much and set the tone for 2022. Bravo! What can any of us do, but take things one step at a time and dig deep into our hearts for lessons learned? Here’s to the New Year and to all the hopes we carry within — ✨🍷🎉🍷✨

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “…blog tours can become (a circle jerk).” Indie authors interviewing indie authors who “know” each other is trading fawning followers. It’s more like selling (pick a kid’s extracurricular activity) popcorn/cookies. Once you run out of relatives and workmates who owe you reciprocity the well dries up. Not to mention you run the risk of guilt by association.
    The thought on series looks more like reader X picks up a book in the series and comes back for more. Thinking they’re out there waiting for a series to finish so they can binge is marketing fallacy. That doesn’t happen with franchises, much less indies. Someone like me picks up a book, enjoys it, picks up the others.
    Health shit sucks. We need a piece of this, let’s do a follow up, let’s scare the shit out of you then reassess your diagnosis, screw up a surgery and back peddle. Sorry about your grandson, kids don’t deserve it, whatever it is. You aren’t the Lone Ranger, 21 was a pisser. Without creative consistencyI went back to writing scenes. You gotta write something.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 2021 wasn’t a banner year for me, either. I finished my WIP, but felt like I’d been working on it for three years. I’m ready to dive into a new project. I really need to make a priority list and focus on that. So sorry about your dad, Craig, and I really hope the health issues your family has been dealing with are resolved in a positive way. Cheers to 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know you really had a rough 2021, Craig. I hope 2022 will bring plenty of good tidings instead and the issues you’ve been facing will be resolved. Approaching life a day at a time is often all we can do. I’m glad you have writing plans for 2022 and continue to keep that passion alive. Wishing you all the best in the year ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hope 2022 is a better year for you. (I have to be careful here. The last time I said that to a blogger going through rough times I got chastised) I’m glad you are trying different things to improve the success of your books. The outside your circle comment struck a note with me and something to be remembered. I wish you all the best for 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. With all of that, I’m amazed you could write anything at all. I had my own workplace struggles, but managed to hit goals. Let’s both hope for more stability in 2022.

    Oh, what am I saying? There’s an election in 2022…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a year, Craig! You have been handed some real doozeys this year and yes, in spite of it all, managed to release two books. That’s pretty freaking awesome, if you ask me. Here’s hoping for a better 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sympathy about your dad, Craig, and sorry you’ve had such a rough year. It hasn’t been one of my best either. Here’s hoping for a better 2022. I think a lot of us need it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sorry that 2021 was a bad year for you.My wish for you is that 2022 is beter.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am so, so sorry for your loss, Craig. Heartbreaking to lose your dad. xo

    2021 was a weird year for me, too. I only had one release (a first for me). It felt like fun house bridge, with some really high highs, some devastating lows. Here’s to starting fresh in 2022! *clink*

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hugs on your loss, Craig as well as your health scares for you and your wife. I’ve been through my own this year. I am doing better but still have another surgery in the future sometime toward Spring. I am glad you’ve been able to find some successes this year. I ended up moving to a new home. I’m closer to restaurants and carry-out places now. It’s been so nice. I hope the year ahead is better for us all. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The first half of 2021 was significantly better than 2020, but the second half was a train-wreck, of the high-speed kind that just kept on coming, and coming, and coming.
    This year we’ve only had a minor power outage and three consecutive snow (and ice rain) storms, so far. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Not every year can be a good year, that’s ferdamnsure. I hope things start moving in a more positive direction for you even as the grief and fallout of grief take their toll. I’m certain.
    For me, health scares have been and are pretty near constant, my whole life. There’s only one way, and that’s through, and it sucks so hard. Honestly, it’s the worst, and very lonely because so much of it is worry in crazed imagination. You have to fight that bit, the toe jam worry of head bit.
    You’ve had a lot on your plate and still managed to get two books to print, I mean, c’mon! You’re killin it!
    I’d sing about high hopes, but it’s more like, COULD IT JUST NOT GET WORSE, mk?

    Liked by 1 person

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