2018 started out rough for me, but I think (fingers crossed) things are looking up! If you checked out my goals for this year, you’ll know it was pretty busy. Well, it’s gotten busier! We have such an incredible Summer planned at Amphibian, and I’m so excited about it! Of course awesomeness comes with a ton of planning, and a lot of my to-do list has to do with my personal goals as well.
In my goals for 2018 I mentioned quarterly check ins and I’m glad I did. Things changed in a big way for me in April.
As you may recall one of my goals was to write a book a month. I do still want to write a couple books this year (four to be exact) plus some Starsboro Chronicles but it’s no longer my only focus for the year.
I was involved in a Facebook group discussion recently which, among other things, helped me decide to avoid social media for the next week. An author in a science fiction and fantasy group asked about how important it is to describe the main character in a book. I, among others, suggested that being vague in your description isn’t always a bad thing but to listen if you get consistent feedback that readers want more. Now, my definition of vague, means that there is some kind of description happening, also another author brought up a good point, race should be included because readers tend to assume the character is white unless told otherwise. Anyway, another… gentleman, disagreed with me. Which is fine, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and I enjoy debate but he was rude. And he kept saying things that not only will prove harmful in his career but could be harmful to others who might not know what I do. One of the things he insisted was that if you need to get feedback from others you lack confidence as an author. Rather than engage him more that I already did I thought I’d talk to people who won’t jump to conclusions and try to rip my head off. He will never hear what I have to say but you will. So here’s some tips for becoming a better writer. I hope you find this helpful in your career.
As I've studied story I found the rules of structure to be incredibly helpful. So you can imagine my surprise when I read posts by other authors claiming they hated formulaic writing and thought it made their stories dull. The thing is, if you want your story to "work" it has to follow some basic rules. Just like a building needs scaffolding in the beginning, you need structure in your work. First, in today’s post we’re going to discuss the basics of structure while you’re outlining your story. Then later on this week I’ll talk about how you can keep the necessary scenes without becoming predictable.
Thinking about resolutions seems to be what all the cool kids do this time of year, and while I’ve never been one for resolutions, I’m big on goals, lists, and so forth. A lot of my goals this year are similar to those I had last year, sadly, but I’m going into 2018 with a bit more in my toolkit, so I’m feeling really optimistic.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I think knowing how little I accomplished this year. I know I did what I could. And I know that if I hadn’t been pregnant and had a new baby I could have completed more. I don’t regret having a baby, don’t get me wrong. That little angel brightens my everyday and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I just needed to come to terms with where I am now. And remember that I can’t do as much. So, without further ado here are my author goals.
Earlier this month I made a joke to Cameron about when we do these in vlog format how my goal recap will mostly consist of me staring down the camera with vacant eyes and saying “nothimg” when she asks what I accomplished that year. And as much as this made me giggle, it’s hard when it feels like the truth. So here’s a review of the goals I set for 2017. Stay tuned for what I have planned for 2018!
Alright! It’s that time again. I get to revisit my goals from last year and let you guys and to a large extent myself, know how I did. I’ll be adding next years goals in a future post.
This time of year our social media pages and author groups are abuzz with word counts for National Novel Writing Month—how many words we need today, how many until we win, or (if you’re like me) how many words you are behind. When we’re drafting our work it’s easy to just say “get the words down, worry about length later.” And that’s true to an extent. But what about when you’re revising? Planning your series? Developing your marketing strategy and brand? Manuscript length ties into four of the biggest things to consider when you’re a professional author: genre, target demographic, series or stand alone, and format. Here’s a handy list on manuscript lengths and what to call them (remember page-count is entirely dependent on formatting):
This post should probably go under publishing or marketing but since we always write about goals under writing here it sits.
So, what’s the difference between a strategy and a tactic? How do you come up with them? First, you need to know your longterm (over arching) goals. If you want to be a best selling author you’ll use a different strategy than if you want to make X amount of money per month. With that strategy there will be tactics. For example, If your main goal is to earn money now, you might price your book at $3.99 while if you want to build your email list and fan base, you might price it at .99 or free.(on Amazon, you have to sell about 8 books at .99 to equal the royalty from one sale of a $3.99 book) These prices are tactics to achieve a goal.
A tactic is one thing you do. Like making your first in series free, setting up a blog tour, or creating a Facebook event. These are pieces to the marketing puzzle but you need to make sure the ones you use fit together.
A strategy is the group of tactics you're using to reach your goal.
For example, with my new series, I want to bring in an extra $800 a month. In order to do this, I have a five book series (technically four books and a prequel) I will have the prequel novella priced at $2.99 and put it on sale .99 every 90 days or so for a certain period of time. I will also offer it for free when a reader signs up for my email list (List building tactic). I might offer it for free (audience building tactic) on retail sites but I'd rather not. A lot of people, myself included, download free books and never get around to reading them. This will not help my read through rates and so it won't help my goal. Charging .99-2.99 (tactic) will help ensure that people read the book (people are more likely to read what they pay for). And of those people, I will have a higher read through and there for more money. The next book (full-length) will be regularly priced at $3.99 or $4.99. Depending on how many early reviews I can get and how much interest there is in the series right away. Why $3.99? Because on Amazon, at $2.99 I'd have to sell 387 books a month to reach my $800 goal. At $3.99 I'd need to sell 286 books. That's 100 fewer books to make the same amount of money. You always make higher volumes at lower prices and putting your book on sale for $2.99 or .99 can help you if you need social proof like reviews or a ranking boost. Sales are just another tactic. Social proof (reviews and recommendations) are needed to sell more books. Using a sale to get that social proof, is a tactic.
It’s important not to get too focused on tactics. Keeping your eye on the prize, the goal, can be the difference between success and failure. Make sure you know what your long term goals are then test different tactics to reach those goals. What works for Suzy Author’s romance series might not work for your science fiction thriller but you can always learn from what others are doing.
What you need to do is figure out where you want to be in five and then in ten years. Do you want to have a certain number of books out? Making a specific amount in monthly income? Finish your series? Be a best selling author? Once you figure that out you can choose your strategy. To be a best selling author you’ll need to grow not only your own email list but also network with other authors in your genre. Networking is your strategy and a free book to grow your own list is a tactic. As you grow your list, you become a more attractive contact for other authors. Meaning, this tactic benefits your strategy.
There are a million tactics in this industry. You can use them all and get nowhere without a strategy and an end goal. Goals keep you focused, strategy keeps you organized, tactics get you where you want to go.
If you’re interested in tactics and strategies for goals like monthly income, becoming a best seller, or growing your email list, let me know. I’d be glad to share what I know and dig into how to achieve goals I haven’t thought about yet! Also, kind of feeling like I should write a post about pricing strategy... let me know if you'd find that helpful!
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