As I look back on 2014, “Don’t Panic” could be the biggest lesson I learned considering all the changes, good and bad, that happened to me as an author. And for 2015, despite a number of major setbacks, I have a plan to totally crush it!
If you’re familiar with the book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, you may get the humor in this post. If not, it may not make any sense at all. But then again…readers are smart, and I think we all have somewhat of a warped sense of humor. If you don’t know the book, read it and get a good laugh. The story of Hitchhiker’s Guide follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, who manages to hitchhike off earth, seconds before it’s destroyed—to make way for an intergalactic freeway. Many of the quotes in that book seemed directly applicable to my career glitches in 2014. Anything in quotations in this post will be from Adam's book.
A warped sense of humor is a good thing to have if you’re an author—indie or traditional. And boy did I need a sense of humor. Just as everything in my publishing career seemed to be improving and going along well—sales were increasing, I had planned to have about seven releases out this year—a record for me, I was finally able to go indie and my first multi-authored box set hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists!
Then the world blew up—aka Kindle Unlimited struck and my publisher, who I loved dearly, announced restructuring and layoffs. It was like two asteroids striking earth at once, because my sales plummeted, AND during this time, I had three new books released back-to back—all three sold like crap.
What did I learn?
“Don’t Panic!” While the loops, blogs, Twitter and Facebook were inundated with panic, rude, sad, and angry publishing ‘professionals’. I tried my best to stay out of the fall out, and kept writing and made new goals for the future. I don’t have control over other peoples’ business or personal decisions, only my own.
“There’s no point in acting surprised about it.” I made the mistake of not being as observant as I should have. I was too wrapped up in my plans and goals, and should have had a backup plan. I ignored a few signs that hinted to the changes to come. Things change and will continue to change. Prepare for the worse, and don’t waste time whining or bitching about it. Set new goals and move on. I had planned to write a couple new series, now I’ve completely switched things around and have different goals with a backup plan. Three new series, plus continuation of my Red Tape series and a number of other projects are already in the works for 2015-2016. Plus a completely new business plan. I’m very optimistic for 2015!
“The answer to the Great Question of Life, The Universe and Everything is…42!” There are tons of advice and books out there on how to make a million dollars and be a bestselling author. Many authors have good intentions and believe their advice is sound. I co-authored one of those books this year: Write to Success And I believe there are a lot of helpful tips in that book. I’ve learned, and continue to learn, from many talented authors and appreciate that these authors are so generous with their time to share their knowledge, but no one knows everything. There is no right way or the only path to success. And there is no magic pill, no get rich quick plan. WRITE, PUBLISH, LEARN, and REPEAT. A number of newbie authors think they’re going to crush it and get rich with one or two or three books. Not happening. Expect many years of CONTINUED HARD WORK, and yes, you will see some success.
A few people who have helped me a lot this year- Thank You!!! You all rock!!!:
Joanna Penn at http://www.thecreativepenn.com
The guys at Self-Publishing Podcast – Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright.
Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen at http://sellmorebooksshow.com/
***Check out their podcasts and books too, both fiction and non-fiction. They have a wealth of information.***
“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?” Oh, there are times I think when every author thinks they’re losing it, and perhaps have even thought about giving up. Don’t! Authors must be part mad. How can they possible look at their manuscript one day and it appears to be brilliant, award-winning material, and the very next day, they read the same book, and it’s doggie doodoo? Don’t give up, have faith in your work. Keep writing.
When I start getting down on myself because of a bad review (or no reviews), or because I’m writing too slow, or I can’t figure out a scene, or my characters seem flat today, or the book is not perfect enough, or whatever reason I come up with. I’m sure you can come up with a few reasons on those days when writing gets you down. I’ve decided now I’ll give myself five minutes to mope, then get back to work. I think of this silly quote as a reminder: “Ford…you’re turning into a penguin. Stop it!”
Final words of advice on what I learned and what I plan for myself in 2015:
PRIORITIZE – I had to come up with a ‘Stop Doing List’. One of those things was to stop hosting friends' new book releases on my blog. I hated doing it, because I like to help promote my author friends. But I realized I was getting requests to host new releases on my blog two to three times a week and many from people I didn’t know. I only get to write at night and on weekends and I had to stop the hosting. It was taking up a huge amount of my writing time. I decided instead I’d host an author party a couple times a year where author friends could promote their books on my site during a week-long event and we could give prizes away. I also find doing topic posts draw much more traffic to my blog. I want to build my brand and an audience this way.
ORGANIZE- I’m a visual person. I bought a full year erasable calendar I have up on my wall in my office with projects and deadlines listed. Also recorded the dates of events, contests, conferences, etc. I’m also going to start using Scrivener.
MEDITATE- I’ve done it before and have started again. It does help my Type A brain to focus on one thing at a time, keep less scattered, and I sleep better.
WRITE- That’s what writers do. Can’t edit a blank page and can’t sell an unfinished book.
And a couple last quotes. Sometimes we need to start a new year with a chuckle: It might be time to re-read Douglas Adam’s book.
Happy New Year and Happy Writing!
“I don’t want to die now!” he yelled. “I’ve still got a headache! I don’t want to go to heaven with a headache, I’d be all cross and wouldn’t enjoy it!”
“We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.”
You know you’re a true writer if this one rings true:
“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.” My translation: I’d far rather be a writer than rich any day.