Wednesday 2 January 2013

IWSG: Goals and Resolutions for 2013

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a swell holiday season, and that you're not too hungover from the festivities. Me? Well, let's just say I am still reeling from the speed with which the year went by and leave it at that.

This time last year, I was busy announcing my goals and resolutions for the year 2012. Now that 2012 is in the rear-view mirror, and those goals have been met, it is time to pull out the road map once again and chart a course for 2013. And what better place to do so than here, in the presence of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG). The IWSG, for those of you who don't know, is a bloghop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of science-fiction space operas CassaStar, CassaFire, and the upcoming CassaStorm. Members of the group are expected to share their writerly successes and insecurities on the first Wednesday of every month, and to offer words of encouragement to one another.

My sole resolution last year was to find time each day to write something. And while I didn't quite manage to churn out 1,000 words every day like I hoped, I still managed to write some 80,000+ words overall, making 2012 my most productive year since I started writing in 1998. So this year, I'll be raising the bar a bit and aiming for at least 100,000 words. Assuming I write at the leisurely pace of 500 words a day, and for 5 days a week, I should be able to reach that goal within the span of 10 months, with two whole months left to be spent on other equally important stuff (or just goofing off like I tend to do). Which brings me to my main resolution for the year.

In 2013, I have every intention of catering more to the business end of being an independent writer. What that means is that I'll be doing more to market my existing body of work. One of the many mantras in self-publishing circles is that the best form of promotion is a new release. The only fly in that ointment though is when you consider the fact that your book must compete with literally millions of other books. Don't get me wrong, it's all well and good slaving over a book until it gleams and sparkles, then proceeding to the next one the moment it is out there. But what's the point if nobody is able to find it in the ever-growing sea of self-published books? After all, no one is going to buy that book if no one knows that it exists. Hence the need to market my books, and the need to be proactive about it. In other words, no more goofing off.

So how do I plan on achieving any of this? By setting some measurable goals. Those goals are as follows:

Goal #1: Write the next book (and its inevitable sequel)
That book is called Proxies, a project that has undergone too many rewrites and incarnations over the years to count. The current one places it in a post-apocalyptic setting, with a dash of alternative history thrown in. Needless to say, it would mark my return to writing science fiction, after spending the past couple of years writing epic/dark fantasy. It would most likely be written in serial form, though I don't see any real reason to publish it that way, except the stars happen to align and it is accepted into the Kindle Serials program. That's right, I'll be submitting it once the first two episodes are written and crossing my fingers thereafter.

Goal #2: Explore other publication avenues
I have never written a query letter before, and probably never will. But that doesn't mean I can't look into a more traditional means of publication for subsequent books, namely the various Amazon Imprints. I am aware that those Imprints (and programs like Kindle Singles and Kindle Serials) only accept books either already proven to be bestsellers or considered to be the cream of the crop. But it never hurts to try. All my books thus far have been self-published through Amazon and Kobo. This year I'll also try to get them up for sale on as many distribution channels as I can: Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords etc.

Goal #3: Use social media to the fullest
In addition to this blog, I am on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. I also spend disturbing amounts of time lurking around readers' forums like Kindleboards. But I haven't had much success in using any of these avenues to sell my books or connect with potential fans. Then again, I haven't exactly been very active on any of these platforms. I am hoping to change all that this year. I'll be joining groups, doing guest posts, participating in blogfests, hosting competitions and giveaways, and basically doing all that I can to get my name (and my books) out there. I had so much fun doing the A-Z Challenge last year, so I'll probably be doing that again as well.

Goal #4: Do NaNoWriMo 2013
Last year, as much as I wanted to participate in my first ever NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month), I was unable to due to prior commitments. This year, no excuses. Come rain or shine, and God willing of course, I'll be slogging it out with thousands of other writers around the world. I did manage to write 50,000 words last February for a similar writing challenge, during which I learnt the importance of having the story outlined beforehand, in which case I already do. So I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to do so again come November.

Goal #5: Be Happy (No matter what)
And once again, I must cap off my list of goals with a reminder to be happy no matter what. Whether sales start to surge or completely tank. Whether my books become critically acclaimed, or are showered with one-star reviews. Whether I become rich and famous, or languish into relative obscurity. Provided I am still able to tell stories worth telling. And if for whatever reason I stop being happy to be a writer, then it's time to move on to something else. Until then, I'll keep doing what I enjoy doing most. Telling stories.

I realize (now that I've put them down) that some of my goals and resolutions stand in opposition to J. A. Konrath's resolution for 2013, which is to write and try not to worry about much else. But one needs to consider the years he'd spent getting his name out there and building up a fan base (and of course his current body of work), which is why he can afford to take such a stance today. For the average independent writer like myself though, still struggling to break out, more work needs to be done. We all hope to get to that point one day, when we can focus solely on the writing.