2016 was quite a year. Stranger than fiction in many ways – I feel for dystopian fiction authors and satirists, since they must be wondering where they can go next. However, this particular blog post (the third of its kind, I’m surprised to see) is a review of my writing and other progress in 2016, and a look at the 3 big things I want to achieve next year.
Here’s a reminder of last year’s goals:
- Get the work out there
- Build my running habit back up and (yes) lose weight
- Find work that’s compatible with writing
How did I get on?
Well, I did get the work out there. I self-published The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes as an experiment, and enjoyed the process so much that I decided to continue following that path. I learnt how to make book covers, and how to format an ebook and a paperback. During 2016 I published 5 books; a novel, a novella, two short story collections, and a novelette. That’s about 150,000 words in all, which sounds ridiculous but equates roughly to 2 novels. I also have a new book in draft from NaNoWriMo 2016, which I hope will be the first of a series. However, I also wrote 2 middle grade books, a chapter book, and several picture books/short stories for children, which are sitting in my file either because they need editing/rewriting or because I’m happy with them but I don’t have an agent (in my mind children’s books are physical books in bookshops). A job for 2017, right there.
The other thing is that while I’ve put out a lot of books, I’m not convinced I’m marketing them as well as I could. Some of this is around not having the same promotional avenues as a traditionally-published author (I doubt you’ll see my books on a table in Waterstones any time soon). Some of this is about not wanting to be one of those self-published authors who tweet their book on the hour, every hour. But many other authors in the same boat manage to market effectively, so no excuses. Last year I proved I could get the work out there. This year’s twist is market new and existing books and stories to maximise their return.
Yet again, I was a lazybones in the fitness department. A 5K in February and a few other desultory runs was about it, although I did walk a fair bit. So I have decided to ease myself in gently by walking/running 1000 miles in 2017. At an average of 2.7 miles a day, that seems pretty reasonable. And yes, I do have a spreadsheet. 992 to go!
My final goal of 2016 was to find work compatible with writing, and I’m very pleased to say that I begin tutoring part-time with The Tutor Trust this month. Briefly, the Tutor Trust is a nonprofit social enterprise working with schools to reduce the attainment gap in education, and focusing on schools in challenging communities. If you’d like to know more, visit the Tutor Trust website.
So my final goal of 2017 is related to this and also to my other two goals, and it is aim for work-life balance and spare capacity. The thing I hadn’t anticipated with writing as a career is that it takes over. There isn’t just the writing; there’s the editing, the covers, the formatting, the marketing, the interaction with other writers, the promotions and launches to plan, the interview questions to answer, the beta reading to do… Once A House Of Mirrors was out in the world, in mid-December, I pretty much flopped out. I knew I should be writing some short stories I’d planned, but I didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm for it – and that isn’t a good sign. Basically, I just hadn’t given myself enough time to do the things I crammed into 2016 (Sherlock Holmes Halloween vampire novelette, anyone?). After a rest, I feel ten times better and ready to start House of Mirrors 2 (or possibly Utopia for Ducks 2, I’m not sure of the working title yet). I’m taking that as a warning.
So, a reminder of 2017’s goals:
- Market new and existing books and stories to maximise their return
- Walk/run 1000 miles
- Aim for work-life balance and spare capacity
Feel free to call me out on any of these goals this year. If you can help, or you think I can help you, get in touch. And here’s hoping for an excellent 2017 for all of us.