Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Year In Review and a Thank You

Hello again, dear readers!

I've been remiss in posting regularly to my blog this year, mainly because I've been so focused on getting as much writing done as possible.  And I succeeded in hitting my goal of releasing three novels this year in my Bartender Babe Chronicles series.  Yay!!!

Another 2016 milestone target was to start a podcast, which I have done with fellow author William Brian Johnson (see Podcast tab above).  We've been having a blast just feeling our way through some of the in's and out's of that whole mess, but I think we're beginning to find our stride (finally).  I was pleased to hear from a listener about how helpful he found Episode 6 to be, where we talked about reviews, how to find reviewers, and how to professionally ask for reviews.  Since I forgot to post the data mentioned there, I will do so below for the indie authors in the audience:

Review List Sites:

Also in said podcast Episode 6, I mentioned my top ten pet peeves of things authors do wrong when requesting a review from reviewers.  I talk about this repeatedly in the podcast, but the first thing to remember is to always, ALWAYS follow each individual reviewer's guidelines on their website/blog when sending out that initial request for review.  Then be professional in your request.

Top Ten Pet Peeves:
10.  Not addressing your email request to a real person - instead using Sir/Madam/To Whom It May Concern, etc.
9.    Asking for an "honest" review - as if all reviews we've written before yours are less than honest
8.    Piles request with positive comments of other reviewers - we'll make our own decisions, thank you
7.    Listing personal accomplishments that have absolutely nothing to do with NOVEL writing
6.    Sending the book and/or a bunch of other attachments with your initial request - some want it up front while most don't, and you can find this out by reading each reviewer's guidelines (see above for a reminder if you've already forgotten)
5.    Including a bunch of links for reviewers to discover your book blurb, cover, author bio, etc. - you want the review so don't expect the reviewer to do your work for you
4.    Unrealistic expectations - i.e. expecting a reviewer to read and review your book within days or even weeks of submitting a request when we're usually running months out on our TBR piles
3.    Not including the book title, author name, or book blurb - and the sender's email address gives no clue as to who they are because it's cutsie or disturbing
2.    A request to review a novel outside of specified genres - again, read the guidelines of every reviewer
1.    Expecting reviewers to BUY their book to review - ain't gonna happen

So with those out of the way, podcast Episode 7 is now live if you'd like to listen.  Again, find it under the Podcast tab above.

Another thing I really wanted to do in 2016 was to begin treating my writing more like a business instead of a hobby.  One of those ways I succeeded this year was to write and release more books. Even though this took me away from my more in-depth stories, it did allow me to branch out into other genres I enjoy reading and writing.  However, even though I'm going to spend time in 2017 writing these lighter books, I'll also be working behind the scenes on some deeper and more complex stories I've got percolating around in my head.  When they'll release is uncertain at this time, but for those of you who prefer something more along the lines of the Deepest Darkness series, trust that I'll have more for you again from my publishing quiver.

So continuing with the business model mindset, though I have yet to incorporate, I did begin to keep better track of income and expenses, created a variety of spreadsheets, tracked promotions and their effectiveness, and have started a newsletter in 2016.

I realized a little late in the game how important newsletters are to keeping in touch with fans and followers and the impact that has on growing sales of new releases.  When I ran a BookBub promotion back in 2014, I could've been much more ahead of the game by now if I'd have had this one little piece in place.  So instead of spending so much time and energy on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads this coming year, I'm going to expend more energy with my newsletter.  Just remember to be patient with me as I better learn these rather complicated ropes.  Hey, I'm teaching myself as I go (and for an older dog, it's a little harder to learn new tricks).

The other thing I've done is to start updating front and back matter of my book backlist.  One thing I'd never done was to incorporate a page at the end of each book asking for reviews. After talking with several more successful authors through (if you're an author and haven't spent time there, I highly recommend you do), I figured it was high time I grit my teeth, swallow my squirms with this well-used trope, and go ahead and do this too.  It goes back to that aspect of treating my writing like a business - and like a business, I need reviews to sell books, and to sell books I need reviews.  This makes it easier for a reader to click the link and leave a few kind words if they are so inclined.  Already I've gotten several new reviews these last couple of days (and a couple of signups for my newsletter too).

All in all, I'm still not exactly where I wanted to be by the end of 2016, but I have accomplished most of my goals for this year - and I have you, dear readers, to thank for what successes I've achieved.  From the bottom of my heart, please know I appreciate you sticking with my writing and thank you immensely for your support and for the encouraging words so many of you have passed along.

Now I'm on to finalizing new goals for 2017.  Fingers crossed!