Tag Archives: 2021

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.

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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.

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