Tag Archives: Firstborn

My Self-Publishing Journey: Planning 2012

I’m a big believer in making lists and having a plan. I don’t always follow the plan exactly, but I’ve got one.

It’s good, essential even, to have dreams, but you have to have a plan for how you’re going to get there, or you’re likely to flounder around without making much progress. I believe in setting goals which are measurable and within my control to achieve. I start with the big goal, then break it down into smaller steps as I get closer. As the saying goes, life is what happens while you’re making other plans, so I like to keep my plan loose until I’m almost ready to implement the next step. You might call it “just in time” management. I don’t see the benefit of nailing down every detail far in advance, when circumstances might change.

I’ve had one quarter of being a publisher as well as a writer. If sales continue at the current pace, I’ll break even in 22 months. My dream is that the pace of my sales will increase as I continue to bring out more books, but I have no direct control over that. What I do have control over is how much I charge for my work, and how much I spend on the various components of publishing. I also have control over how much time I spend on free social media promoting my work. I don’t have control over whether time spent on social media converts to sales.

So how am I going allocate my time and money in 2012?

  • The majority of my time will be spent writing, revising, and publishing two books. I’m currently preparing a backlist novel, DANGEROUS TALENTS, for publishing. DT should be out by May. I’m also writing FIRSTBORN, a tie-in novel in the Celestial Affairs universe that LIGHTBRINGER began. I plan to release FIRSTBORN in the fall. Then I’ll either begin work on GUARDIAN, the next Celestial Affairs novel, or prepare FORBIDDEN TALENTS for publishing in 2013. I will not plan another Christmas release as I did in 2011.
  • I’ll continue to use social media to let the world know that I, and my books exist. I’ll blog a little less frequently, and tweet a little more. I’ll look into guest blogging so I can reach a new audience.
  • I’ll send review requests to blogs that discuss the kinds of books I write.
  • I’ll make personal appearances at events I enjoy: The Amore and More talks at the Pima County Library, the Tucson Festival of Books, and TusCon Science Fiction Convention.
  • I’ll send postcards to book events advertising my books. I’m not sure how immediately effective this kind of advertising is, but at least it has the benefit of being targeted to readers. In direct mail campaigns a 1% conversion rate is pretty standard. With a targeted campaign it might be as high as 3%. Hmm. Now that I’m doing the math, that’s not a good return on investment. I may rethink how I implement this.
  • I will research less expensive alternatives to certain production tasks, like cover design.
  • I’ll research inexpensive advertising opportunities to implement once Castle Rock Publishing has three titles for sale.
  • I’ll stay flexible and keep my eyes open so I can take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

Mostly this year, my focus is going to be on making my work available for sale. My long range plan is to release a minimum of two books a year. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂




Filed under Publishing

I Love/Hate Research

I tend to do “just in time” research. I may do a little before I start a project, but usually I have an idea for a story and begin before I know too much background. When I hit a place that I need to actually know how flashbang grenades work, or whether a county has a coroner or a medical examiner, or if they had crenelated parapets in medieval Bitburg, I either mark it for later or look it up right then.

Many writers will tell you it’s better to mark the spot and research later, so as not to interrupt the flow of your writing. I mostly agree with this, but sometimes I just have to know–now! Sometimes that little bit of information will make a difference to what my hero decides to do. Sometimes I’m just easily distracted.

I love research. I can get lost in it. One entry leads to another. Sometimes it gives me ideas for the story that would never have occurred to me otherwise.

I hate research. On occasion I’ve looked in vain for that one piece of info that I wanted, while being distracted by other relatively useless (at the time) but shiny factoids. It feels like I’m working, but  the hunt for information can become an excuse to avoid writing.

I love research. It keeps me from making a fool of myself in public. In fact I’m planning a trip to the local used bookstore this afternoon to get a used copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting or something similar. The heroine of Firstborn, my current WIP, spends the majority of the book pregnant, and since I haven’t any personal experience with pregnancy I need to know what’s she’s going through. There are a lot of readers out there who will know if I get it wrong. I don’t want a mistake to kick them out of the story, so doing a little research will help me give them a good read.

I hate research. Because I’m never sure if  it’s enough. Should I read one book or three? Just the highlights or the whole thing? What if I miss something important?

At some point, though, you have to say, “Good enough is good enough,” so you can finish the story. I guarantee that after you get the book out the door, you’ll learn something you wish you’d known earlier .

Don’t fret. Just save it for next time.


Filed under writing