While numbers don’t lie, they don’t always cast the clearest reflection of reality.
Take 2017, for example. When comparing my business plan’s projections to what actually came to pass last year, I find that One Million Words and its president, publisher, and author—in other words, yours truly—have come up short:
1. Officially, zero books were published.
2. Two short stories were slated for publication in 2017, but neither released.
3. My Pun-a-Day Calendar campaign on Kickstarter proved unsuccessful.
4. Sales forecasts for The Renegade Chronicles dwarfed actual units sold.
5. While I did write the second draft of an existing novel, as planned, I did not achieve my goal of starting a new book.
On the surface, 2017 was fraught with failure. Digging a little deeper, however, I find I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished last year:
1. Although I didn’t publish any of my novels, I set aside time to help a friend publish his memoir, That Wonderful Mexican Band. Production-wise, I also got If Souls Can Sleep 99% of the way to market and made it available for pre-order during the 2017 Christmas shopping season.
2. Short stories “Ghost Mode” and “The Lake Road” are now expected to appear anthologies planned for 2018. Let’s call that a delayed success.
3. Was I disappointed that my Pun-a-Day Calendar campaign failed? Sure. Did I learn a lot in the process? Certainly. Scrapping this project also meant I was able to work ahead on If Souls Can Sleep so that it will release months ahead of time. (Jan. 30, people!)
4. The Renegade Chronicles’ sales have slowed to a trickle. It’s difficult to put a positive spin on that, but then again I didn’t put much money or time behind marketing the series in 2017, choosing instead to invest in the production and promotion of my next series, The Soul Sleep Cycle.
5. I guess writing my best-selling YA fantasy novel will just have to wait. Having said that, I did spend some time working on a clandestine collaboration that allowed me to flex my creativity in new and exciting ways. (I hope to share more about this project later this year.)
Call it an obsession with stats—or maybe just a penchant for oversharing—but here, for the record, is how things shook out in 2017, compared to 2016.
If numbers aren’t your thing, go ahead and scroll down to the next section.
- 2016: 5
- 2017: 0
- 2016: 164
- 2017: 60
Total hours worked for One Million Words
- 2016: 691.00
- 2017: 603.75
Breakdown of time
- Writing: 190.00
- Publishing: 183.00
- Marketing: 185.00
- Passion projects: 35.00
- Business day to day: 41.50
- Research and other random tasks: 56.50
- Writing: 194.75
- Publishing: 104.25
- Marketing: 125.75
- Passion projects: 93.50
- Business day to day: 46.50
- Research and other random tasks: 39.00
Looking ahead at 2018
Author vs. Publisher
I created One Million Words not because I wanted to become a publisher, necessarily, but because a publisher was needed to get books from my personal computer out to the masses. In a perfect world, I’d spend the majority of my time writing and editing novels, and playing the part of publisher would be a small but very necessary evil.
Unfortunately, my publisher hat must remain firmly in place for the time being. Perhaps it’s only fair, since I wore my author hat for years while writing the first three books of The Soul Sleep Cycle. Those novels aren’t going to publish themselves.
Because I’ve decided to publish all three books within a relatively short amount of time—six to nine months between releases rather than a more typical twelve to fifteen—that doesn’t leave me much time in between promoting the launch of Book One and beginning the production schedule for Book Two.
And it certainly means I won’t be authoring the first draft of a brand-new novel before mid 2019.
The Renegade Chronicles vs. The Soul Sleep Cycle
They say an author’s back catalog is one of his greatest marketing tools. That’s a very good thing since I have neither the time nor the capital to invest in further promoting The Renegade Chronicles. Here’s to hoping that readers who stumble upon that trilogy give my new one a shot and vice versa.
Of course, I’ll continue to sign and sell copies of The Renegade Chronicles at upcoming events, but 2018 is going to be all about marketing If Souls Can Sleep and then If Sin Dwells Deep in the fall.
Why step away from The Renegade Chronicles? For starters, the success of If Souls Can Sleep will greatly impact the success of the new series as a whole. So if The Soul Sleep Cycle is to have any chance at finding its audience, I can’t afford to be splitting my efforts between rebels and dream drifters.
Introvert vs. Extrovert
I won’t lie: I’m far more comfortable sitting behind a computer screen than taking my show on the road. The author in me bristles at being pulled away from the narrative to navigate real-world obligations, though the publisher in me understands that publishing without selling is pointless.
I do a fair amount of marketing from the comfort of my own home—including writing these blog posts—but there’s no denying the fact that I sell more copies of my books at events than I do through other marketing channels. Which is why I already have four appearances scheduled for 2018, including the If Souls Can Sleep book release/signing on Feb. 10.
Keep an eye on my Facebook Events page to see where this introvert will turn up next.
Work vs. Play
Passion projects are good because they give one the opportunity to step away from the norm and try something different—and possibly help others in the process.
Too many of these diversions at once, however, are detrimental to productivity on all fronts.
With that in mind, I’m committing my One Million Words time to a single side project in 2018. Admittedly, this secret initiative is a just-for-fun kind of endeavor—yet my inner businessman is quick to point out that the project might one day turn a profit.
This isn’t to say that editing, publishing, and promoting my novels isn’t fun, but I have to admit it’s nice to cleanse the palate every now and then, especially when I have a dozen months of publishing and promoting ahead of me.
So that’s the plan. And if anything changes along the way, I’m sure you’ll read about it here.
My new novel, If Souls Can Sleep, is coming Jan. 30.