Saturday, January 04, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014


Okay, 2014 has already started, so I suppose that technically I can't be looking ahead to it. But only a very few days of the new year have passed and the first one was a holiday, so I think I'm still good on the looking ahead part.

2014 will be my first full year when, with no salaried job to go to, my primary occupation will be writer. While I published my first book in 2013 and shared a very few of my short stories, there were other things in my life that I needed to focus on. For the first six months, that was going to the day job. On what were supposed to be off days, writing days, I had to attend to the details of prospective retirement--applying for Social Security, figuring out medical coverage, determining what kind of supplemental funds I would need and would be wise to start spending, etc. Some of this activity extended past my retirement date. And there was that whole period of adjustment that I wrote about last week.

A couple of weeks ago I started evaluating what I had accomplished and what I wanted to do in the future. I'd dreamed of my published writing providing income for extras in my life--redecorating, traveling, hiring a landscaper so I didn't have to battle the weeds on my own and torture my arthritic spine. What I'd learned was that the world was not beating down my door to buy my book. There are a lot of books to buy and publishing changed--again--making it more difficult than ever for an indie writer to be discovered and successful.

For one thing, traditional publishers began to be price-compettitive on ebooks. Having lost to the Department of Justice on the price-fixing collusion suit with Apple, they could no longer inflate prices to $12.99, $15.99, or more. And perhaps they saw the benefit of promoting sales with those lower prices. On today's Kindle Daily Deals page, there are books by Ann Rule, John Le Carre, C.S. Lewis, and Edward W. Robinson priced under $3.99.

My lack of sales was discouraging. I tried to do something about that by paying for an ad, guest blogging, and running a sale on my book. None of those tactics worked very well. With only one book in a series, readers are reluctant to commit, not trusting that there will more books to read if they like the first one. There are some outliers who break out with their first book, who sell a gazillion copies and become internet sensations, but most indie writers need a body of work to be successful.

I also discovered that it takes me longer to write, revise, and edit a book than it does some writers. While there are those who can write and publish a book a month over and over again, I have yet to manage completing a book from first draft to publication in under a year. I always told myself that was because I was doing it in my "spare" time, but there have been times when I doubted that reasoning. Sometimes ideas need fermenting. Lots of times, I'll discover a plot problem or a character who needs a motivation for their actions and cannot for the life of me come up with the solution. Every day I'll spend time thinking about it and freewriting in my journal, but not come up with an answer. Until one day I do. But for that period of days, I'm frustrated and anxious that I'll never be able to fix it.

It crossed my mind to modify my decision. After forty years of working for someone else, didn't I deserve to relax and enjoy life? Maybe I would treat writing as a hobby instead of a job, write when I felt like it or was inspired, publish when I was ready instead of according to a schedule, not care whether I sold a book or not. I'd just enjoy telling stories.

But then there was that dream. It wasn't only about the money. It was about having people I'd never met reading and enjoying my books, about leaving a legacy behind me of stories that might be read a hundred years after I'd passed on. It was about succeeding in the career that I'd wanted for myself since I was a little girl.

And so I have declared 2014 The Year of Writing. I have decided that I will focus on producing that body of work, ignoring sales and promotion, and treat writing as a full time job. In addition to the daily list of goals I write down for myself each morning, I have written out a schedule of what time I will spend on each type of goal on my working days. And yes, I have decided to have working days and off days like a real job.

I have set specific publication and writing targets:

  • Publish Deliver Us From Evil, the second in the Community of Faith mystery series by April 30th
  • Publish Blue Murder, the first in the African Violet Club mystery series by September 30th
  • Publish ten short stories, one per month January-October
  • Draft a new mystery during NaNoWriMo in November


Hopefully, I'll achieve all those goals and more.

Photo Credit:
Happy New Year Banner: bdtiger2000 via openclipart.org
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