I started 2012 with these goals:
- Publish my novel on Kindle
- Finish the sequel
- Set up a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account
I also had various other goals such as getting fit (!), studying and improving our financial position in a recession.
So, now 2013 is fast approaching it’s time for me to take a look back and reflect on my goals for 2012 …
Publishing on Kindle
Can’t Live Without was already complete and had been critiqued and edited to within an inch of its life, but I decided in January to post chapters on my brand new blog and see what happened. When I wrote my first blog post I had zero followers, but at least I was doing something! Gradually, my blog followers increased, and I met some wonderful bloggers who became my first beta readers. Two of them are currently beta-reading the sequel to Can’t Live Without, The Family Trap, and many of those early readers have become firm internet friends.
On May 16th I uploaded Can’t Live Without to Kindle. I felt sick with anxiety as I pressed the Publish button, and to be honest, that feeling has never really gone away. Recently I’ve been thinking about where I was this time last year – the great thing about being in a state of ‘potential’ is that it’s a very safe place to be. You have all the excitement of your dreams but none of the risk. Now I’m published and have readers and a sense of responsibility to keep going; it’s a very different place indeed.
In July I did my first free promotion on Kindle, to coincide with the book coming out in paperback. CLW achieved 10,000 downloads, and Amazon’s algorithm at the time put it back into the paid charts in the top 100. Which was amazing! (I’m pretty sure Amazon have since changed this; my promotion this Christmas netted over 23,000 downloads but CLW only returned to its original chart position, and many other free promos I’ve watched recently have behaved the same.)
To date, Can’t Live Without has been downloaded by nearly 40,000 people, and has sold just under 6,000 copies. I think I can put a big tick next to that goal!
I had already started outlining The Family Trap earlier in the year, and once CLW was selling I began work in earnest. There were parts of writing a sequel that I loved, and parts I didn’t enjoy at all. The challenge is to make the work fresh while still maintaining the truth of the original. I think sequels work best for thrillers, fantasy, and crime novels – for romances they are problematic as there are only so many ways to legitimately keep a couple apart! I did a lot of rewriting before I was happy with TFT, and early reports from Beta Readers are encouraging. There is still some work to be done, but I’m on target for my 14 February deadline for publication. This book will come out in paperback and on Kindle simultaneously. Having two release dates was just too much hard work!
Blog, Facebook and Twitter
In January of this year I set up an account with WordPress and started blogging. I had no idea what I wanted to say – I had no idea if I had anything of interest to say – but I knew I had to start somewhere. I had to get ‘out there’ and connect with readers, other writers, bloggers and the world in general. It’s in my nature to be happiest doing most things from the safety of my computer, so virtual interaction suited me perfectly! After a few months I got into my stride and found my voice, blogging about my journey to publication, being a self-published author, and anything else that I thought might interest readers. Lots of authors use their blogs to review books, effectively becoming book bloggers and gaining a platform along the way. I admire this greatly, but I couldn’t take this route myself – I don’t enjoy reviewing books at all! I do enjoy interviewing other authors, and have hosted a few blog tours and guest posts which adds variety to my blog.
The most fun I’ve had on the blog has been stirring up a bit of controversy, like when I posted my open letter to the RNA. As a blogger, it’s great to sit back and watch other people arguing with each other via the comments. Then your blog has taken on a life of its own, and that is very satisfying. I have a few hundred followers now, which was beyond my dreams at the start of the year. I also have over 2,700 followers on Twitter and 100 likes on my Facebook page. Not bad for one year. Let’s see what next year brings!
I wanted to continue studying creative writing, despite being told that I should just write and learn along the way. For me, learning keeps my brain alive and challenges me to improve and think about things in a different way. Over the years I’ve studied such disparate topics as psychology, economics, life coaching, bookkeeping, and Shakespeare. But in 2012 I realised a dream and was accepted to study for an MA in Creative Writing with the Manchester Metropolitan University. Another tick!
As for getting fit … well, there are only so many hours in the day! But it’s definitely on my list of goals for 2013, which I’ll be sharing with you very soon.
So, how about you? Looking back, did you achieve all your goals for 2012? What was your best moment and how did you surprise yourself the most?