As 2017 came to a close, I found myself thinking, “this isn’t my best year. Not my biggest year.” But certainly it was a year of growth, change, and big pivots. The market has shifted, as has my focus. Every year, I use my learnings of the prior to inform the next. 2017’s work has set me on a whole new trajectory, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
6 Accomplishments of 2017
- Hit the Top 100 (Top 50, and 20 as well) on Amazon three times in the US on my own titles. Hit the Top 10 in AU, UK, CA, and IT. Also, Top 10 at Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and Top 50 at iBooks. This is on par with my performance of 2016 as well.
- Finished the House of Crimson & Clover series. This was something I never thought I would do. 12 volumes, 13 lagniappes, and multiple boxed sets. But closing this door led to the opening of the broader Saga of Crimson & Clover, where the world continues in different ways.
- Launched the Saga of Crimson & Clover. Created unique branding and outlined three new series with releases in 2018, all within the same world. Endless possibilities await, and I could not be more excited.
- House of Dusk, House of Dawn Was a Top 10 Kobo Cover of 2017. This wasn’t something I submitted to. Kobo picked from among the 2017 releases and then notified those authors on the list. I was first a Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy pick, and then as voting narrowed down, I made it into the final Top 10 for the year.
- Broadened horizons. In addition to getting more of my books into audio this year, I also welcomed opportunities to partner with Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. House of Dusk, House of Dawn, for example, was invited to an exclusive early release with Nook.
- Research trips add more exciting locales to Crimson & Clover. I always visit New Orleans each year, but in 2017 I also went to Paris, which became a key setting in my upcoming release, A Tempest of Discovery. In 2018, I look ahead to a spring trip to Italy.
6 Learnings in 2017
- Most paid advertising, with few exceptions, is DOA. The days of stacking tons of newsletter-based paid ads on a sale or new release seem to be over. Most simply do not have the ROI, and as readers get newsletter fatigue, they are narrowing down what they subscribe to and read. This makes services like Bookbub even more elusive and important.
- Facebook is entering the realm of impossible for reaching anyone. First, it was the pay walls. Now, it’s the unforgiving algorithms. This isn’t a debate on whether Facebook should be making it harder or not, just an observation that it becomes ever more important to find a way to engage on other platforms.
- Multi-author boxed sets used to be a key strategy for my publishing goals, both in terms of reaching new readers, as well as revenue generation. With the market oversaturated with these sets, my titles doing much more than sitting on someone’s Kindle is idealistic at best. If I do enter into one in the future, it will have something clear and marked that sets it apart from the competition.
- Thinking like readers has never been more important. Marketing books tends to follow the pattern of “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Just as there are trends in genres, there are trends in cover design, in marketing techniques, etc. Because of this, the way to emerge ahead of the trends is to think like a reader. What grabbed your eye? Why? Think beyond books, too. What made you stop and look in other forms of media?
- Need be more present and accessible. Due to the growing limitations of places like Facebook, it’s easy to just neglect to spend the time. But, Facebook or elsewhere, technology continues to provide more ways to be available and accessible. Podcasts, for example, or even live videos. The key is finding ways to make those channels engaging, rather than just one more thing.
- Your tribe is so important. Every year I’m reminded of this, but every year it bears repeating. The authors, readers, bloggers, etc. I am close to have been beacons of light in dark times. Few people know your struggles the way another artist does. Holding on to them, supporting them as they’ve supported you, is a key element of turning a solitary profession into a community.
6 Goals for 2018
- Launch 3 brand new series. With the pivot away from a single series into a universe of stories, I have three new series launching in 2018, all different genres but within the same world. I have releases planned for January, March, and the summer (book one for each), and will shift to the second book in each series in the second half of the year.
- Continue to strengthen my audio presence. Most of The House of Crimson & Clover is now in audio, thanks to my lovely narrator LC Kane. Want to finish this series and shift to the new ones releasing in 2018.
- Look into a marketplace on my website. Some authors have shifted their readers to a marketplace of their own for ebook retail. As Amazon strengthens their market stance and competitors get pushed back, it becomes more important for us to have some control over our digital inventory.
- More focused spending. With paid advertising via newsletters and social media waning, it’s time to pivot into other mediums. Find what works. Test, trial and error. Abandon what isn’t paying off, and embrace what is.
- Find ways to be more accessible without taking time away from writing. This is always the challenge, right? But I believe that it’s not the time you spend, but how you spend it. Effective uses of time are never a waste. A ten minute podcast might do more for reaching readers than 10 minutes of Facebook posts.
- Look to 2019, 2020, and beyond. There are three series coming, but there are more burning in the back of my mind. Need to get them outlined and on the calendar, and look for ways to continue to expand the world in a way that appeals to new readers but satisfies old ones.
What are your accomplishments and learnings from 2017? How are you looking ahead to 2018?
Happy New Year!