The last year was fraught with unexpected twists and turns. Along the way, some ambitious plans failed to launch, while others happened just before the clock ran out on the year. Let’s break them down.
1. Life - Twist and Turns - Family
In the early part of the year, a family issue came up that I cleared the deck for. This derailed the release of my book, The King’s Horse, by a few months. Thankfully, everything ended well from a family perspective. I debated holding the release of The King’s Horse until the fall, but started to fear that if I didn’t get it out, I never would, so I released it without a plan in June.
What many don’t know is that The King’s Horse is the first book I wrote since cutting my asthma meds by more than half. This dramatically reduced the amount of steroids in my system which have been a part of me since 2009. This threw off my writing voice, my confidence, etc.
2. Life - Twist and Turns - Job
With my youngest kid going into grade 1, I was faced with a choice. It has been 3.5 years since I worked in IT (software), and my resume was collecting the amount of rust and dust that makes it very hard to come back to if I needed to at some point. Another reality is that this economy where we live isn’t great, and while I’ve been home with the kids and writing for the past few years, my wife’s lost her job a few times. Some financial stability would be great. So I decided to go back to work, and landed a good job. As it turns out, that was a brilliant move because just before Christmas, once again, my wife lost her job.
This also curtailed the idea of launching a Patreon account, as I wouldn’t have the additional time to produce content.
3. Failed Podcast - Along Came A Time Crunch
While I’d tried to get videos going as a regular thing at the end of 2017 and early in 2018, I then decided to pivot to doing a podcast. In May, at CreativeInk, I recorded 10 podcast interviews that I could use to launch my show, Along Came a Podcast. As I was gearing up to launch the show, the Family Twist and Turn happened and my priority shifted. As that started to let up, the idea of returning to the job force crystallized and so I focused on getting a technical certification to help strengthen my resume (which was a sound move). At that point, I was now in September and realized I wasn’t going to be able to get ahead of everything. I was struggling just to find time to write, which I knew I couldn’t compromise.
4. Emotions can Derail Me - Causing a Story Stockpile
My stories come from deeply emotional places, so when there’s a significant change in my world, I can lose my grip on a story. Experience has taught me that unless I want to permanently ruin that story, I need to put it down for a bit. Keep playing with it, and I’ll end up with a car wreck of words. Leave it for too long, and I’ll lose my connection to the story. I went from writing The King’s Horse #2, to ODIS Prime - Season One, to Anny Pocalypse - Book 1. All of these got to the 80% point, where fine tuning and mental space was needed.
I was working on Anny when I started the new job. We also got a puppy at this time, which meant my daily routine was dramatically changed and I was being robbed of sleep (puppies are sooo like babies, I’d forgotten about that). With my mind constantly in a consulting space (I work for a consulting company), I was able to return to another project of mine that had been gathering dust: my non-fiction book, based on my popular presentation/workshop about having successful book signings. To my joyful surprise, I finished it, got it to my editor, and am now half-way through the preliminary edits. In a week or two, it should go out to beta-readers. It’s called: Five Critical Things To Know For A Successful Book Signing (5CT for short).
The closer 5CT is ready to go out to betas, the more I’m thinking about Anny. I can feel I’ll be able to start going through my backlog with renewed strength and excitement.
5. Regrouping - Pull Back, Strategy Forward
When I cut my meds back in mid-2017, I also cut my travel and book signing schedule. In 2018, I did the fewest appearances I’ve done in quite a while. Health wise, and family wise, it worked out well. In terms of writing, my plan had been to go from 2 to 4 indie releases for 2019, but the problem was I know I need to extend my reach, and that means giving a book to an agent.
Taking the job and striking events from my schedule allowed me to really get behind the strategy I need for the next year: 1 indie release, 1 book for an agent, 1 non-fiction, and then see where things are at. 5CT is the non-fiction, Anny is the book for an agent, and ODIS Prime or Wizard Killer 4 will be the next indie release.
Prior to taking the job, I felt trapped by my 2 indie releases a year (April and September). I was trying to grow from there, but at the same time, felt that my family’s needs and my schedule couldn’t easily support it. I was pushing myself, but that was burning out my creativity and playing havoc with my emotions. Taking the job, giving my family financial certainty, helped me across the board.
6. Perspective (Bonus thing)
Every time I start saying that this hasn’t been a productive year, I’m reminded that I released Wizard Killer #3 as well as The King’s Horse #1. I also released 3 audiobooks, with a fourth that was recorded and I benched because I’m not certain I want to release it as it. On top of that, I was at two great writer conferences, and on top of panels and talks that I offered, I did my first keynote which was a rocking hit. I built up some great new friendships, and reinforced others.
When I launched my indie career, I went hard, learning everything as I went. This year was about downshifting to climb the hill that was before me. I didn’t stop, and I knew I couldn’t keep going the way that I was. Instead, my relationship with my writing, my kids, and my wife are all at the best they’ve been. Even with a new job, I am not tempted to ‘leave my writing and focus on my career’ because author and speaker is my primary career.
Having great people around you helps bring perspective, and the further we go, the more important they are. I was never someone to feel like I was a part of something. I always found myself excluded or abandoned for some reason, but the writing community and the friends I have today are very different.
Summing It Up
This past year was my worst for sales, and it didn’t matter. I shelved several stories that were SO CLOSE to being done (I haven’t forgotten about Tilruna - for those that had read an excerpt a year+ ago), and that doesn’t matter. What this year represented was shifting a lot of things so that my family was where we needed to be, and getting myself off the treadmill of writing more to write more to write more, and getting myself to start being strategic once again.