Spend a greater percentage of my time writing:
This seems to be a common theme among fiction writers this year. For me, this means putting the writing first, being more efficient with the time I spend marketing, and continuing to use the strategy I developed last year to increase my productivity. This strategy (which consists of alternating between my historical fiction and my new science fiction series so I am writing on one series during the times when I am researching, plotting, and publishing work in the other series) enabled me to actually double the number of words I wrote last year.
Write more but shorter blog posts:
I have neglected my blog this year. On one hand, I felt increasingly like I had nothing new to say in the rapidly evolving self-publishing/ebook environment. On the other hand, my tendency to write long posts that took a week to finish seemed a waste of precious fiction writing time. The solution I am going to try this year is to write shorter posts, with more of them addressing readers than other writers.
During my long first career as a history professor, I would binge read fiction during my vacations (between semesters and at the start of the summer). However, since my so-called “retirement” (which in fact has turned out to be a second career), I have left little time for reading for recreation. I do read other authors’ manuscripts, and blog posts about the business, and historical monographs for research. But that is work, and I need to get back to reading just for fun. So I am going to try to read more during holidays and reserve one day a week for reading fiction for my own enjoyment.
Remain nimble when it comes to marketing:
I did not start my publishing career in the fall of 2009 with an established fan base, a backlist of previously published work, several manuscripts already written, or any marketing or tech experience. Once I started down the self-publishing path, I discovered that I was not a fast writer, in part because the research required for my genre was time consuming and because I was not willing to sacrifice my sleep, my wide circle of friends, or my service commitments to churn out four or five books a year (which seems to be one of the keys for financial success within self-publishing.)
What I had on the plus side was a fairly tech-savvy husband to help me master the skills needed to self-publish and a book I had worked on for three decades in a sub-genre (cozy historical mysteries) that turned out to have a large market. It also turned out that a career as a community college professor meant I knew how to tell engaging stories and had developed the analytical and organizational skills needed to market those stories.
I believe much of my subsequent success as a self-published writer has come from being willing to 1) stay in touch with changing marketing trends 2) experiment with new marketing tools 3) analyze the results of these experiments and 4) change my marketing strategies when needed.
In short, to stay nimble.
And, finally, my last resolution is to continue to be eternally grateful for the wonderful people I have met on-line over the past six years, readers and other authors alike.
I wish all of you the very best for the coming year.
M. Louisa Locke, January 1, 2016