The end of the year is traditionally the time to make New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a time when book marketers encourage authors to invest a lot more of their time in advertising and selling. While I have nothing against this, the extreme focus on marketing over creating good works can be stress-inducing and even counter-productive. I say it’s time to create writers resolutions that avoid that trap.For example, one post from a very popular book marketer lists nearly a dozen resolutions. This blogger encourages you to:
* Give away more books
* Create bonus content to give away
* Every month, offer a discount promotion
* For social media sites, create polls, Q&As, and create online events
* Create more email marketing campaigns
* Devote time to get more reviews
* Write up pitches for book bloggers
* Visit Goodreads often and engage with readers in your genre
* Run more giveaways on Goodreads
* Praise favorable reviews on Amazon
* Network with fellow authors and work on marketing campaigns with them.
Jumping Jehoshaphat! I have two problems with this list. First, regularly running discounts and giveaways runs the risk of teaching your readers to expect them. I have no problem with releasing a new book at a brief discount, or reducing the price of the first book in a series. But more and more, I’ve heard authors discover that you get the readers you attract. Offer cheap or free books all the time, and you get the bargain hunters and Kindle fillers, and not as many dedicated fans.
Second, that’s a lot of work! Enough for a full-time marketer, never mind those who work for a living, or who want to spend more of their time writing than selling.
It’s easy to be cynical about this and say book marketers are doing this to encourage you to buy their books, video courses, and services. It could also be an element of panic on the marketers’ part. One marketing plan will not work for everyone. What works on Facebook for one person might not work for another. A writer comfortable with reaching readers through her newsletter might balk at visiting Goodreads. A third might be releasing books every six weeks and don’t have time for anything else.
If a marketer pumps out articles like “81 Ways to Jumpstart Facebook Ads” and “114 Ways to Attract Readers,” they’re sure to cover something that might be the Next Big Tactic of 2018.
Writing is an art. It is also a business. So let’s take a look at the big picture. Here are a few simple things I’m doing to keep myself on track in 2018 that I think will help you as well.
Review Your Production Schedule
You know what you’re writing over the next year, right? If you don’t, this is an easy way to start.
A production schedule is not complicated to create. It’s function is to give you a basic idea of the shape of your year’s production. There’s no intricate list of tasks that must be followed over the year. In fact, considering all of the ways a year can go haywire, you don’t want to waste time devising a detailed list of projects and deadlines, when it may have to be thrown out after a month anyway.
At Peschel Press, we divide the calendar into three-month quarters: January to March, April to June, June to July, and October to December. I list under each quarter the title that I want to have finished. Not produced, but completed, edited, polished, and ready for production.
That’s all I do for every quarter but the one I’m currently in and the next one (that is, the last quarter of 2017 and the first of 2018). For the January to March quarter, I list the books I want to finish, and the deadline for each. I decide on the general length of each book, and the number of days I’ll have to meet the deadline. Divide the number of words by the number of work days, and that’s my goal for each day.
This gives me a general idea of how well I’m doing.
Consider Major Purchases
In January the clock starts again on a new tax year, which means you can consider spending money on your business.
Look at your computer; is it on its last legs? How are you handling backups; do you need DVDs to back up files or an external storage drive? Is there any software you need, such as Photoshop or Scrivener. How about software trends on Amazon such as Kindle Rocket, or K-lytics (these are not recommendations, just examples)? What about your office supplies; do you have enough paper, toner, Sharpies, and highlighters? Having these supplies on hand makes replacing them a matter of walking to your storeroom instead of driving to the office supply store.
What About Software Upgrades?
I hate paying rent on anything, whether it’s houses or software. That’s why I use Word 2007. Heck, I still use Fireworks 3 from 1995 (although I got a good deal on Photoshop PS2 as well).!
In your case, some upgrades might be inevitable and this is a good time to plan when you’ll buy them and how to pay for them in the upcoming year.
Look at Changes in Your Procedures
Is something that once worked no longer doing so? Did you find holes in the way you get your books produced but haven’t instituted a permanent fix? This is a great time to take care of that. has something in your processes failed but you haven’t taken the necessary steps to correct them? this could be how you handle your blogging, or how you produce your books. Career Indie Author readers know that I use checklists to keep track of my book production. I also use lists inspired by Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done” to track small but vital jobs that could be forgotten. Now that you have a week or so of quiet before the new year gets under way, nail down these tasks.
Think About Advertising and Promotion
Review your stats for any ads and promotions you have run. Are you satisfied with them? Is there a test campaign you can run to see if you can move the needle further. Don’t overload yourself with new ideas; pick one to test. You need to see the feedback to decide if the campaign worked. Running more than one campaign where you can’t trace which results worked won’t help you tell what worked.
An important element of this process involves your Amazon book pages. When was the last time you looked at your descriptions? Are they still effective, or have you picked up a few ways to make them look better, such as adding all the books in your series, or additional keywords to authors and books in your genre? Check the book pages on your web site? Are there outdated or missing links that can be fixed?
Examine Your Writing Habits
Satisfied with your production? Wish you could write more? A change of tactics may be in order.
Recently, I listened to a class in finding time to write taught by Dean Wesley Smith (courtesy of a free coupon which is still effective until January 22). Smith is a prolific writer, but he shocked me when he admitted that he looks for ways to motivate himself to write. Like many writers, he keeps to a regular schedule and writes on a computer without internet access. But twice a year, he looks at his productivity and if he needs to switches tactics.
As someone who frequently has to find tricks to get himself to create, this was a revelation. I would beat myself up for letting myself get distracted, or focusing on non-writing goals. Maybe my problems aren’t as big as I thought.
So don’t be afraid to change your routine. Get up an hour earlier. Create a time diary to find periods when you can crank out 250 words. Go on to Google Docs in the Chrome browser and use the Voice Typing function (that’s how I wrote this post). Sit outside in the snow and write on your laptop. Put up a whiteboard in your office and brainstorm ideas.
The point is to do something.
Taking My Own Advice
And that’s what I’ve been doing. This past week, I’ve updated my book production schedule, cleared my desks several small tasks, shelved and filed my research from old projects and dumped tasks I have no intention of doing. I also planned how to keep track of the number of words I create so that I’ll have a year-end total., cleaned my white boards, and listed post to write for January.
Despite still feeling like a failure every once in awhile, I try to look on the bright side. Every time I’ve adopted a new tactic, I still fall short of my goal of getting everything done on time. But I know I’m also getting more done than before. With the coming new year, I have specific deadlines that will result in finishing several books and starting new projects I’m excited about.
Put yourself in that same mindset and you may surprise yourself with a productive year.
Best wishes and best sellers to all for 2018