A lot of folks are skeptical about New Year’s resolutions—and I understand why, although I respect the reason why people make them. The new year signals change, and people embrace it. I’ve studied change, though, and motivation, and I understand why sometimes the simple desire to change isn’t enough. So I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; I make resolutions year round and, if they don’t “take,” I examine why.
But I’m not writing today to talk about self-improvement, although it is a worthy topic. I’m instead writing to talk about something I do engage in at the beginning of every year, and that’s goal setting. I have a number of personal goals I’ve set, but I’ve also set several writing goals, and I thought my readers might want to know what they are. I also realize that I might not make all of my goals, but by setting them, I know I’ll get close, which is more than I do when I don’t set them! So here, not necessarily in order, are my writing goals for 2016:
- Publish (and write) twelve books. I’d say it would be to instead “publish one book a month,” but I’ve already blown that. Locked and Loaded (Bullet #6) is set for publication on February 1, so January is already gone (although I do plan to release a box set in January, but that doesn’t count—I’m talking brand-new books). So far, I have two books written and going through the pre-publication process (Locked and Loaded is undergoing revision and will be shipped off to my beta readers no later than tomorrow, for instance, and Lies [Nicki Sosebee #10] is in the settling—pre-revision—stage). A third—Boiling Point, the novella that will kick off the Feverish series—is one-fourth of the way written, and I’ve also written quite a bit of a snarky contemporary women’s novel called Snapped! I’m a writing machine! 🙂
- Revise all the Nicki Sosebee covers and blurbs. The blurbs to the books aren’t bad, but in spite of her hardcore fans, Nicki has never caught on with my rock star reader audience in a big way, and I’ve wondered if it’s because the blurbs aren’t doing her any favors. So I’ve rewritten the first one enough that I’m quite happy with it and started rewriting the one for the second book. The new covers aren’t going to be too much different from the old ones. When I’d started converting the books into paperback, I was going for a different theme (men on the covers), but I think I want to go back to the old look (except for book #1), so stay tuned.
- 2015 was a year of learning and growth for me. While Facebook and other social media might have propelled Bullet into bestseller status, it has changed so much in the past three years that it is impossible to connect with one’s audience anymore. Even if one is willing to pay to be seen, it’s a losing proposition. I tried it to a degree and realized it was like throwing a fortune into an endless abyss. Marketing on social media is not worth it—for me at least—and so I have to set my sights elsewhere. This year, I will be pulling away from social media—not entirely—but I cannot waste time on those sites like I used to. They truly are time suckers, and I simply cannot afford to spend time there anymore. It’s hard nowadays connecting with the people I care about using those sites. For example, I have accepted most people who requested my friendship on Facebook, because they’re usually either readers or authors, but today I scroll my timeline and don’t see any of the people I “know” anymore—readers who have become friends included. It’s full of pages and paid ads and people I’m unfamiliar with. I understand that Facebook’s gotta do what Facebook’s gotta do, because they have investors to keep happy, but Jade’s also gotta do what Jade’s gotta do, and that’s pulling out with a few of her soldiers still alive. I’ll still maintain a “presence,” but I’m not going to be shouting into the empty wasteland anymore either. What I mean by that is that when you have over 9000 followers and only 90 of them “see” a post but don’t like it or respond…try doing that 100 times, and you’ll realize that there are better (and emotionally healthier) ways to use your time.
So I intend now to spend more time here, on my blog, and I want to also put more time into my newsletter. My writing goal, as far as that is concerned, is to write one blog post per day. Some will obviously be book related, but I might start writing a little more about whatever else might be on my mind (like I used to do on Facebook, which had been my social media poison of choice). Some of it will be funny. I’m also hoping to invite a few friends to do guest spots. I’ll also use it for cover reveals, teasers, and the like (things I also used to do exclusively on Facebook)…and we’ll see what else I can conjure up. Please feel free to comment anytime you wish. That is the main thing I miss about the nostalgic “old days” of Facebook, when I actually got to chat with my readers. I can’t do that anymore, even after dropping five bucks a pop to show up in a few of their newsfeeds.
- This one makes me sad, but it’s happening anyway. I want to finish out the Nicki Sosebee series. Since Bullet, I’ve had my muse whispering in my ear about dozens of other projects, and Nicki has been neglected. Finally, though, all the floating pieces have settled and I know how to get from point A to point Z as the series wraps up. There are four more books to come (I had known before it would take three to five, and it turns out I was right). I have written out a loose plot (as close as I ever get to outlining) and know all the big things that will happen in each book. The first of the finale is written (book #10, Lies, planned for release on February 29) and the other three are plotted. I am hoping to release one every three months with the final book being published either the end of November or beginning of December. Trust me—this one’s bittersweet for me. There are a lot of things happening in the books that are knotting my stomach, but it’s time for Nicki to walk through the fire I’ve avoided having her suffer through. And Lies is good…so good. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn, but I can’t wait for you to read it. I’m sad, though, because getting back up on that horse, writing Nicki again—I love it. I’d forgotten just how much I love writing Nicki…and now I have to gear up to say goodbye after writing the next three. I suspect I’ll cry for part of it, because Nicki has been like a friend to me. It’s going to be hard letting her go.
- Continuing series. As I said above, I’m going to officially launch the Feverish series (good timing, since I’ll be ending the Bullet series next month, another bittersweet moment for yours truly) with the novella Boiling Point, a look at Last Five Seconds on tour, but more specifically a look at Clay and Emily dealing with life on the road. I’d also like to write the second book in the Wishes series—this would be Diesel’s book. It’s been two years since I wrote the first, Be Careful What You Wish For, and I suspect readers might have forgotten I intended a series for the book, so I’d better get cracking, no? I should probably also write the next Tangled Web book while I’m at it!
- One thing I’ve already started changing in relation to my writing goals has been the way I’m publishing. I know that my writing is stronger when I have time between writing and revising—it’s easier for me to distance myself from “the action” and to read as a reader…to get away from “not seeing the forest for the trees.” Knowing this, I am choosing to change the way I publish. I’m writing a book and then “tucking it away” (as Stephen King suggests writers do in his amazing book On Writing) while I write the next. After writing the next book, only then am I going back to revise before shipping it off to beta readers. Yes, the impatient, eager writer in me would prefer a faster process, but I appreciate that my writing is better when it has to age a bit (I know this from past projects), and that is how I’m going to publish from this point forward. I believe it will make my novels all the better. During the “settling” phase, I’ll have the cover designed and polish the blurb, set a publishing date, and all that good stuff, but I’m going to practice more patience, knowing that it will make the reader’s experience much better.
- One last “goal,” although it’s not exactly a goal. I plan to publish to as many sites online as I can, and I’m going to try to be better about converting my books to paperback (it’s a bit of a pain, which is why I’m not the best at it). I’m finally publishing on Google Play, for example, and starting to publish directly to Kobo instead of through a third party. But no more being exclusive, because it really hasn’t helped me as a writer and has, in fact, made some of my readers feel alienated. I wanted to see if the promises I’d been made by my exclusivity would pan out but, if they did, I couldn’t tell. I’m also going to look into audiobooks, although I’ve been told they cost a pretty penny to make.
- Oops. I lied. One more. 🙂 I’m also going to spend less on advertising. In 2015, I thought maybe I’d been too tight with the purse strings, that maybe that was why my books were selling less, but after spending an entire year sinking money into all kinds of different ventures (from blog tours to outright ads on various places), I’ve decided spending money on advertising is not worth it. The returns just are not worth the investment, especially when I’d much rather spend that money on a book cover or swag I want to give away to faithful readers!
Well…I’ve written plenty here, enough for an entire book chapter, so in closing, I just want to thank each one of you who read this entire post and made it to the end. You are most likely one of my most loyal readers and I want you to know that I thank you for that. Thank you for sticking around and reading my work, no matter where you might find me. I appreciate you more than you know. Maybe 2016 bless you and be your best year yet.