Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: A Year in Review & Top Blog Posts

Another year is almost over and a new one is about to begin.  How did this past year work out for you?  Did you accomplish what you expected or are you going to continue tracking your goals into the next year?  For me, it’s a little of both…

After having published the first two books in the Jorja Matthews mystery series, No Mother of Mine in 2012 and Best Kept Secrets in 2013, I got to work on the third book in the series, Ties That Bind, expecting a release date in 2014.  Obviously, I made the 2014 release date, even after hiring a new editor and working around her busy schedule, but my goals did not stop there.  I also wrote and published a short ghost story, 1313 Psycho Path, which was released earlier in February 2014.  I initially wrote the book and gave it to my boys as a Christmas gift in December 2013, but then we decided it was something we wanted to share with others.  I have since been asked to write a sequel to the story, and because it was such a fun story to write, it is on my list of possibilities.

The first half of this year was spent publishing 1313 Psycho Path and completing Ties That Bind so that it could be sent to the editor for review.  The second half of this year I spent time taking part in Camp NaNo during the month of July so that I could complete another short story I had also hoped to have published in 2014.  The rest of the year was spent completing Ties That Bind, and then anxiously waiting for word back from my editor after her review of the book, which occurred in late September.  The book was returned with edits in October, and the book was published in November.  Having published so late in the year, it was difficult to schedule book events with the holidays in November and December literally taking up most of our time so I will plan an event next year.  I already have a fun idea for a book event and, while it may be a challenge, I really hope it will work out as I imagine.

I took part in only a few book events this year, a pretty low key schedule actually.  The first was a speaking engagement at a local senior center the first half of the year.  I just love senior citizens and I adore how much they adore my books.  When I meet with them, I am reminded of my grandmother and I very much wish she had lived long enough to see me publish my first book.  I know she’d be both tickled with joy and extremely proud.  Another event that took place the second half of the year was a craft fair I decided to join in on for the fun of it.  I hadn’t actually intended on selling any books at the fair, as I had actually made some ornaments and scrapbooks for the event, but my third book in the series came out just before the craft fair and I was given permission to use the event to offer the books I had available for sale.  It turned out to be a fun event and, while I didn’t have copies yet of the third book with me, it was a great way to promote the series.

What I wasn’t able to complete this year was the final publication of my second short story I wrote during Camp NaNo.  It’s just about ready to go but since Thanksgiving and due to the busy time caused by the month of December, I’ve had very little time to work on my writing.  That is about to change and I look forward to getting back into my writing routine.

I may not have completed everything I intended to this year but I’ve come pretty close.  I feel very accomplished by the fact that I published two books in 2014 and began working on two more.  I will continue to track my goals from 2014 into the New Year, as I also add new ones to the mix.  Completion of my second short story and scheduling a book event are two goals I need to complete, as I also continue working on the fourth book in the series so that it can be published in the fall.  I also plan to join Camp NaNo in April again so that I can focus some more time on a YA novel I hope to publish sometime next year.  It will be a challenge but I look forward to working on something completely different. 

To finish off this post, here’s a short list of some of my most popular posts for 2014:
This will be my last post for 2014. I always experience a combination of feelings this time of year… sadness that another year has passed so quickly but excitement at what a new year will hold.  For me, 2014 was a good year overall with more ups than downs, and that’s always a good thing.  I truly hope yours was as well!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Making a list…and checking it twice.

I don’t know about you, but this has been a busy month for me and that’s on top of all the holiday prep, shopping and events we always deal with this time of year.  And we’re only half way through the month!

The third book in my series, Ties That Bind, is now out.  Of course, that’s not news to you if you follow this blog or my Facebook page.  It’s always an exciting time when another new book is released and then…I finally get my head out of the fog so that I can focus on the list of to-do’s I need to complete once the book is finally out.

What kind of list?  Here’s just a sample of some of the tasks I needed to complete:
  • Send out group e-mail about the new book to everyone I know
  • Blog about new book release
  • Update blog with new title and where to purchase the book
  • Update Amazon author page
  • Make new book available on Barnes & Noble as paperback & eBook
  • Update Facebook cover photo
  • Look into scheduling book events/signings
  • Research my name and book names to see what pops up and where
  • Take a peek at author rank, just because it’s fun to see that spike when sales happen

There’s more to the list, I just can’t remember all of them right now.  So how have I done with my to-do list so far?  Not too bad, actually.  The group e-mail went out, I blogged about the new release, my blog has been updated so that my books are now listed on a separate tab, my Amazon author page has been updated, and I finally replaced my Facebook cover photo with a new one today.

The book event was tricky.  It’s a terrible time of year to try to schedule book signings because of how busy our schedule is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  I really didn’t expect to be able to squeeze any events in this month and had planned on focusing on scheduling a book signing sometime after January.  However, I had already signed up for a craft fair taking place the first week in December so I was able to use that event to promote my books.  Even though I didn’t have any copies of the third book available at the time, it turned out to be a lot of fun and I was pleased with how well the event went with regard to sales of my prior books and with how I was able to market my new book. 

I try to research my name and my books on line every few months throughout the year, and especially after a new book is released.  I do this to see how quickly someone can find me, either by looking for my name or the titles or series name of my books.  When I ran a search for my name and my books just after Ties That Bind was released, I was upset to discover that the newest book in the series had already been pirated.  The digital format was being offered for free by a company actually located in my home state and which is subject to US copyright laws.  I immediately sent the company an e-mail regarding the copyright infringement, to which they replied:  “Thanks for your report!  Links was removed.  Kindly yours.”  That’s it, bad grammar and all, but I checked the site and found the book was no longer available.  The problem here is that dealing with companies who pirate books is like playing whack-a-mole.  You can hit one over the head and make it disappear, only to have another one pop up in a different spot.  Some authors view it as free advertising, while others go the length of hiring attorneys to deal with the issue.  I’m just dealing with it as it comes up but I don’t want to let the issue completely consume me.

Book ranking                                 Kindle ranking
Checking my author ranking is something I used to do all the time when I first released No Mother of Mine – I spent too much time watching the numbers go up and then go down, all the while trying to figure out exactly what made them go up and down.  It can give you a headache.  And it’s really not a good way to spend your time as a writer.  However, I now look at my author ranking about once every quarter, just to see when the ranking dips and when it spikes, whether it’s after a new release, after a book event, a holiday, cyber Monday…you name it.  

Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason but either way, it can be a good tool to use, as long as you don’t let it completely control how you view your worth as an author.  I checked my ranking for the first time today after months of not taking a peek and it was great to see that a spike did occur right after Ties That Bind had been released.

Overall, I’ve tackled my to-do list pretty well.  Based on the list above, I’ve covered them all except for one, which is to add the book to Barnes & Noble’s website (and I apologize to anyone out there who uses a Nook).  There are more tasks I can add to the list, as always, but I feel good about where I am with my to-do list at this point. 

So, for the rest of December, I think I can now focus more on my writing and also spend some time checking over my “other” list…my Christmas shopping list.  We’re at 11 days and counting – the holiday will be here soon! 

Good luck if you also have your own holiday list to check off and have a great week!