So this is the time of the year where I try to reflect on how the last twelve months of my writing life went. Was it… productive? Fun? Fulfilling? Disappointing? What did I learn? What did I do well? What could I improve for next year?
And, you all… a LOT happened this year, and my small potatoes writing career took some big steps. So let’s take a look!
first, the numbers
- Words written: 55,000 (The Ninth Circle) + 77,000 (Time’s Orphan) + 22,000 (Night of Ash) + 60,000 (Inky & Heater IRL) = 214,000 words (3 complete, 1 partial)
- Words revised: 77,000 (TO) + 22,000 (NoA) + 99,000 (ItC) + 75,000 (TBA) = 273,000 words (4 books)
- Words published: 22,000 words (1 book)
- Words queried: 99,000 (ItC) + 75,000 (TBA) = 174,000 words (2 books)
- 2022 Total Words Worked: 758,000 words
Sales Numbers: 650+ self-published books sold. Another 200ish downloaded for free. (Draft to Digital makes it little harder to distinguish between which books were bought and which were downloaded for free)
And the Goodreads numbers.
- Odriel’s Heirs: 165 ratings / 4.33 stars
- Burning Shadows: 17 ratings / 4.94 stars
- Idriel’s Children: 50 ratings / 4.34 stars
- Night of Ash: 9 ratings / 5 stars
- Time’s Orphan: 8 ratings / 4.88 stars
- The Gatekeeper of Pericael: 84 ratings / 4.34 stars
- Into the Churn: 4 ratings / 5 stars
- My Goodreads total: 341 ratings / 4.34 stars
For reference, the 2021 total was 214 copies sold, 136,000 written, and 554,000 words worked. So yeah. Obviously, still small potatoes. But numbers wise, this years kicked the pants off of last year in pretty much every single way, and that wasn’t even the best part!
The best parts
- I got not one, but TWO publishing deals with Whimsical Publishing, and I absolutely ADORE working with them. It has been the best experience. And not only that, but I actually had another 2 publishing offers from small presses this year. 😱 This was new and exciting territory for me, and I was absolutely thrilled to make the leap from self-pub to small press with a publisher that loves me books as much as I do. 💛
- Then, my YA paranormal, The Ninth Circle, got picked up for a WriteHive mentorship with EJ Dawson! 🎉 What?! Is this even real life? The first call was so awesome, and I can’t wait to whip the manuscript into shape with them!
- The Gatekeeper of Pericael was a semi-finalist in the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards. I love my upper middle grade fantasy, but it can be so hard to market, so this was an exciting moment!
- Odriel’s Heirs got over 100 Amazon ratings and finally got BookBub US and International marketing deals! 🎉 I was so stoked to get more exposure for my first book child, and I definitely had a positive experience with these. Fingers crossed I can get more books accepted in the future!
- I got accepted to be a participating author at both OwlCon 2023 and StoryBound Fest 2023! StoryBound Fest will be my first in-person author convention, and I’m pretty nervous! So that’ll be an exciting new challenge for next year.
What I learned
- This year, I really nailed down my outlining process with the Save the Cat formula, which really helped me churn out those first drafts. Thanks to Story Genius and an obsession with K-drama, I also had a crucial epiphany on how to develop likable, relatable characters.
- I love dual-POV and the depth it brings to a story. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.
- I grew a lot more comfortable as a critique partner and have collected a few more writing friends who I can reliably swap feedback with.
- I also was able to consistently read and review books on my book blog here! 62 and counting this year! This has been great way to give back to the writing community, bring more traffic to my little site here, and also sharpen my critiquing skills.
- I learned how to create decent covers in Canva Pro! This was a super fun tool for my creative process and marketing purposes, but if I ever self-pub in the future, I’m glad I can use this as a viable option to cut costs. (However, if anyone has any recommendations on graphic design online resources, they would be so appreciated! I definitely still have room for improvement. 😅
- Making playlists for my books and WIPs on Spotify is ridiculously transportive, and I can’t believe I didn’t discover this earlier. I now have a playlist for every single one, and it is an amazing way to get in the writing mindset and pivot quickly between WIPs.
- Finally, I learned that small presses can be amazing, and honestly I wish I had investigated/considered them a more with first two books I queried.
What I still need to work on
- Oh boy. So much. I’ve been making some strides in the last few months, but the balance of writing and social media engagement still eludes me, although I feel like I’ve grown more comfortable being my ridiculous, goofy self in reels and selfies. And I actually have a TikTok now – who would’ve thought that?!
- Advertisements. I tried again this year, buutttt still failing big on this one. If anyone wants to point me toward some learning resources, I would LOVE that.
- Querying agents. I had several full requests this year, but per percentage of queries I send out, my numbers are nothing to write home about. As I’ll probably end up querying two WIPs next year, I definitely want to focus on sharpening my query materials to boost my request stats next year.
- Minimizing publishing expenses. Although writing is definitely more of a passion project for me than a business (thank goodness for the day job!), I definitely want to start streamlining my expenses so I can write long-term without permanently denting my wallet. Moving to small press helped immensely this year, and while I hope to publish more with small presses in the future, if I ever selfpub again, I’ll be streamlining my process to cut costs.
- A brand? Right now I’ve been kind of all over the place: YA Epic Fantasy, MG Fantasy, YA Sci-fi, YA Paranormal, YA fairytale retelling, YA romance… I know one day, if I decide to really get serious, I’ll probably need to pick a lane of some nature, but right now I’m just having fun, so I’ll save that conundrum for future me.
So what can I go after? As always, I try to keep my goals measurable and attainable.
- Get Time’s Orphan out into the world on February 8th, and officially complete my first series. 🎉
- Launch Into the Churn on April 4th… and cross my fingers that it does well enough to write the sequel. 🤞 (p.s. If you read it and want more, don’t forget to rate, review, & spread the word on social media!)
- Revise my YA Paranormal with my mentor and toss it into the query trenches
- Revise my YA Romance and storm the query trenches with that one too!
- Attend Storybound Fest and live to tell about it. (Did I mention I was nervous?!) 😅
- And of course, write the next book. I have three outlines waiting for me, but I’m not sure which will win out here, so it’ll be exciting to see what I’m working on next.
So yeah, it’s been an incredibly fantastic writing year for me, and I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the people that have supported and encouraged me along the way. 💛 Here’s to more growth and adventures in 2023. As always, thanks so much for reading!