After a 20-hour trip and an 8-hour “nap”, I’m finally home. I was going to finish a draft post about Vietnam, but it’s just not happening. Maybe I’m simply not cut out to be a travel writer. I do have some interesting stuff in the draft, so I will finish it eventually, just not now.
Instead of uploading photos, I’m inspired to reflect on the year that just ended and maybe to daydream a bit about the year that just started. One of my favorite things to do, especially when I’m feeling a bit down, is to think where I was a decade or a year ago, and then project a trend a year or a decade into the future. It’s fun, because the trend is persistently upward, even with a few bumps along the road (if running away from an abusive ex-husband can be called a “bump”, that is). It kinda helps to start from a low base, say being born in a third-world country. Everything seems better and brighter since I’d managed to sneak out from under the Iron Curtain…
So, instead of uploading more photos, I found myself thinking where I was a year ago in the writing/publishing journey, and where I may be at the end of 2016, if everything goes according to the plan. I was actually surprised at the difference – it helps to look up from the grinding stone every now and then and get some perspective.
In terms of writing, at this time last year all I had was a final draft of Shizzle, Inc – with just one structural edit, done mostly out of desperation for someone to tell me it’s not a complete waste of time. Today, I am 20K words into a sequel, and at the end of the next year I plan to have two sequels polished and published.
In terms of publishing, last year I was persistently, some may even say obsessively, sending out query letters in hopes of getting a traditional publishing contract and then methodically crossing out those that bothered to send me a rejection letter. I gave up on that in May last year and have since self-published Shizzle, Inc in paperback and e-format. I take it for granted now, but a year ago I did not know anything about the self-publishing option. Over this coming year, I hope to create so much buzz for my three books that agents will be fighting over me. In fact, I will not deviate from the self-publishing route unless I’m offered enough to quit or put on hold my regular job. Can it be done in a year? There’s only one way to find out!
What about social media? Twelve months ago I already had a year-old Twitter account, which I’d started without any plan. I was happy to just post jokes and loved the fact that my three thousand or so followers retweeted them. Today I am much more strategic, and (after lots and lots of daily grind) have 36,000 followers on Twitter. Hey, quite a few of them have actually bought my book! My spreadsheet tells me that I will have over 100,000 followers by next Christmas, and my spreadsheets never lie.
And those are very active followers, too! I couldn’t post a graph for the entire year, but here are the last 3 months of “impressions” – crazy numbers! The light gray columns at the bottom are the number of tweets – you can see that as I fell off the radar in December, so did my stats.
Not only that, the blog stats say that 1,710 visits to this blog last year came from Twitter, so it has helped me grow the blog following as well.
Speaking of the blog, it is bursting with activity now, but would you believe that it was dead in the water last year?
Almost 30K views! That’s more than 3000% increase in visitation in just one year! It was a lot of work – as you may know, I post at least 2-3 times a week, answer all comments, comment on other people’s blogs, etc. I don’t think I could (and frankly, shouldn’t) invest more time next year, but let’s just see what happens :-).
Ah, but what about sales? And reviews? Well, of course, a year ago there were no sales, as the dream of publishing seemed to be out of reach. Again, I can only post the last 90 days of sales, which are all over the place due to the various promotions I’d run:
I’ve learned a lot about sales and promotions, and I hope you have too, if you’ve been following my testing of promo sites, complete with posting live stats on Twitter. I have even bigger plans for the next year, as my first 50 paperbacks have arrived from the US, and I plan to take them to stores and radio stations in hopes of getting some exposure. I’ve tried emailing those same stores and radio stations, to no avail, so it’s time to just show up and win them over in person.
I hope you stick with me, and I would also like to pass a message to the free cover contest participants that currently have only few votes – get to work! Writing a great blurb (or a great book) is only half of the job. Unfortunately, you have to market your work, so that people find out that it exists, and hopefully like and buy it. View this contest as a practice in both aspects of self publishing: first you had to write the best possible blurb, now you have to get as many people as you can to vote for you. Use this as an “excuse” to grow your social media, to try every possible marketing gimmick to get people to vote for you. Your reward will be a free design and a confidence that you will be able to do the same when it comes to marketing the actual book.
Ok, that was it for the “Deep Thoughts with Ana Spoke”. Thank you all for my best year yet, and look forward to sharing 2016 with you!