Ups and downs with your friendly neighborhood small potatoes writer (2021 in review: Part Two)

So, in my last post, I talked about the numbers. But of course, the year is more than just numbers! Now, I want to talk about the highlights! New things I tried. Things I learned. Things I’d do again, and things I won’t. Mostly this review is a reminder for me on how to improve for next year, but hopefully others might find it useful as well.

New things I tried!

  • This weird writing/reading blog I’ve got going on! Since I often reach out to book-bloggers with review requests before I publish, I figured I should also open for review requests and try to give back to the writing community a little bit. This year, I reviewed 78 books! And honestly, thinking critically about what I enjoy and don’t enjoy in stories has been a great help to my own writing. Overall, it’s been fun and it’s a great way to support other writers and also get myself out there. So I think I’ll continue into 2022.
  • The NYC midnight challenge! This year I tried the 250 word, 100 word, and short story NYC midnight challenge. The short story one was a little more of a commitment than I think I wanted, but I made it to the final round of the 100 word challenge 🥳, and I’ve really enjoyed the feedback from all the contests. (You can see my feedback here) Will definitely continue the 100 & 250 word contests in 2022.
  • I also entered Odriel’s Heirs in the Book Blogger’s Novel of the Year Award, and it came in 5th! 🥳 The blog highlights they do as part of this contest are really cool and I would totally enter again in 2022.
  • The Page Turner awards! So, this one was a little bit of a lark. The more MS’s you submit, the cheaper the entry fee for each is, and I was able to submit five! Idriel’s Children and The Gatekeeper of Pericael were both finalists for the book award (full disclosure… there were a *ton* of finalists). And Codename: CNDRLA made the longlist for the writing award! 🥳 No luck for Odriel’s Heirs or The Belethea Race Royale (entered in the writing mentorship award), but I got a cool little finalist badge for Gatekeeper & Idriel’s. Still, it’s pretty light on the perks so I’d probably pass on this contest in the future.
The badge is cute though!

Realizations

  • Although I love Burning Shadows and Idriel’s Children. After I finish the Odriel’s Heirs series, I will not be self-publishing any other sequels. I missed the prospect of querying (I know, weird right?!), and even though Idriel’s is a stand-alone, I found the sequel harder to market.
  • On a similar note, I don’t plan to write any more middle grade. Although I love writing for younger readers, getting a self-pubbed book into an actual middle-grader’s hands is super tough! And there aren’t as many book bloggers that are into middle grade. So YA all the way!
  • In 2020 I definitely rushed through the querying process for Gatekeeper. This year, I’ve gotten better at juggling multiple projects and realized just how silly that was. I started querying CNDRLA in November 2020. Currently, CNDRLA has three full requests out, and querytracker is telling me one of them will probably take until June to (let’s be real) get rejected.😂 Last year I probably would’ve been antsy… this year, it’s happily on the backburner as I work on other stuff.
  • I need one or two reliable SFF beta reading services in my life. I love beta read-swapping, but I have a terrible habit of taking on too much and gobbling up a lot of my time. So, I’m currently in the process of finding some affordable go-to’s. When I find them, I’ll let you know, but if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
  • Social Media! Can be a great way to market your books… and it can also be time-consuming and draining. At one point, I got so caught up in doing daily prompts on Twitter and Instagram, it was taking up a lot of my time, and also piling on a lot of needless self-pressure. So this year, I realized I could give myself permission to step back from social media a little bit. Sure, my engagement’s not as good as it was, and I’m sure I’m missing out on marketing opportunities… but honestly I’m much happier when I don’t feel like I have to post, and it gives me extra time to focus on my WIPs!

refining the process!

  • This year, I made some huge strides in figuring out what my writing process is, and how to juggle multiple projects at once.
  • Alphas, CPs, Betas, Editor, Cover Artist, ACX narrator, ARC readers.
  • I now have go-to CPs (shout out to Caleb & Kayleigh!), an editor (MK editing) and a cover artist (100 covers.) I know where to go for ARC readers (Book Sirens), and I also know that audiobooks are totally not profitable for me 😅 (but they’re so amazing that I probably still won’t be able to stop myself.) Also, the Microsoft Word read-aloud function is a proofreading miracle!
  • I’m still searching for go-to Beta services, but with the process nailed down, it takes a lot of guesswork out, so I can focus on other things.

Still working on it

  • Getting a BookBub deal for Odriel’s Heirs. UGH! One of these days!!!
  • Querying! I will probably forever be working on this. But Codename: CNDRLA got the most full requests of all my works so far, so I feel like I might be getting better at it.
  • Marketing! This one is still super tough for me… but I’ve kind of made peace with it. I’m much happier spending less time on social media and more time writing, even if it means less sales. I’m also still trying to figure out which ebook newsletter promo’s work best too, so maybe I’ll try to be more methodical about it in 2022. I do think it works better to do 1 or 2 at a time and stretch them out rather than concentrating them all at once.
  • Also, I took the jump and went wide this year with Draft2Digital! That decision probably deserves its own post. But I think with future books I’ll stick with the Amazon/KDP situation… mostly because it’s easier to give away free books. 😅

wrapping up the year

So, I learned a TON this year! …And I still have a lot to work on… 😅 But there are couple things I’m super pumped about for 2022.

  • Codename: CNDRLA has gotten the most requests of any of my works so far, and I can’t wait to get it out there!
  • The Belethea Race Royale (working title) is my first sci-fi, my first dual POV, and my strongest side of romance yet. I’m so excited to query in 2022! Now… if only I could come up with a better title…🤔
  • 2022 will be the year I finish my first trilogy. And although I’m sure I’ll be a little sad to close the book on Okarria and Odriel’s Heirs, the epic conclusion is going to be so much fun to write!

That’s all I got for this year. As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or recommendations please feel free to reach out! It’s been a blast, and I’ll see you all in 2022! 🥳

Thanks for reading!

Ups and downs with your friendly neighborhood small potatoes writer (2021 in review: Part One)


Well, it’s that time again! Time to look back on the year and see what worked, what didn’t, and how this whole writing thing is going. The review is important to me to make sure I’m still enjoying the process and see where I can do better.

In most of these self-publishing posts, I often mention how important it is to define what success means to us, measure ourselves in growth, and shooting for obtainable goals. But I also want to be transparent about my experience as a small-time self-pubbed writer.

So in this post, I’ll give a quick snapshot of my numbers, and and then in part two, I’ll talk more about the specific highlights and lessons learned.

The cold hard Numbers

Not much to write home about here. I sold:
15 hardcovers
93 ebooks
73 paperbacks
3,988 pages in KU
20ish* audiobooks
Total: 214ish copies

I’ve given away:
4,545 ebooks
38 paperbacks
179 audiobook promo codes
Total: 4,762 copies (not counting eARCs)

And my Goodreads review counts are currently at:
Odriel’s Heirs: 4.36 stars, 134 ratings / 109 reviews
The Gatekeeper of Pericael: 4.07 stars, 82 ratings / 75 reviews
Burning Shadows: 5 stars, 11 ratings / 8 reviews
Idriel’s Children: 4.29 stars, 42 ratings / 36 reviews
Total: 4.29 stars / 273 ratings / 228 reviews
(Thanks so much to everyone who took time to read and review—this means SO much to me!)

Which brings me to a whopping:
$183.82(ish)
(Thank goodness for a solid day job! 😅)

So, yeah. Like I said—small potatoes writer over here just trying to grow and have a good time. 😂 So I try to keep my expectations low and look on the bright side. I put three more books out in the world this year, got more sales and reviews in 2021 than I did in 2020, I learned a lot, and I had a good time doing it. There’s still obviously a lot to learn, but I’d still call it a good year. 😊

But I also wanted to measure the year in another way…

*This is so hard to measure, because ACX lumps in your redeemed promo codes as ‘sales’ so this is purely a guess based on royalties…which are also counted in a variety of ways. Honestly it could be anywhere from 6-50 copies.

The warmer, fuzzier numbers

So, I’m constantly thinking about how to measure writing growth and goals, but it wasn’t until I was trying to estimate what I could accomplish in 2022, that a very simplistic idea dawned on me.

Successful authors often give some version of the advice that the best way to get better at writing, is to just keep writing. So, of course, the answer should have been obvious. I should measure my growth in words.

There are a lot of you who are probably looking at the screen like: 🙄 well duh, girl.

But I think this is trickier than it seems, because I’m not just talking about the words we write. I can usually write a book in 3 months, but it takes another 9 months (and countless rereads) to revise, edit, and polish…not to mention querying.

So, I think we need to not only count the words we write but also those that we revise, query, and publish (and if you have more steps in your process, then count those too!). Add them all together, and then we can get a feel for what we really accomplished in this writing year.

For comparison. I’m also adding 2020, since I didn’t do this last year. (Also… I’m not adding flash fiction – it’s too hard to keep track of.)

2020:
Words written: 10,000(ish) + 10,000(ish) + 78,242 = 98,242 (1 complete, 2 partials)
Words revised: 50,581 + 74,948 = 125,529 (2 books)
Words published: 74,083 (1 book)
Words queried: 50,581 (1 book)
Total: 348,435 words

2021:
Words Written: 20,828+94,328+21,013 = 136,016 (2 books, 1 WIP)
Words Revised: 20,828+78,242+94,328 = 193,398 (3 books)
Words Published: 20,828+50,581+78,242 = 149,651 (3 books)
Books Queried: 74,948 (1 book)
Total: 554,013 words

Now, that’s an interesting comparison! I really didn’t know 2021 was more productive than 2020. And while I’m sure there are a lot of reasons behind this, I know it’s in part because I made some important realizations as a writer this year that have really helped me grow and become more purposeful and efficient in my process. (Which I’ll take on in the next post.)

Of course, however the numbers are tallied, our writing year is not just a number. And, we can’t realistically increase that word count every year. Eventually we’re going to cap out. Even looking forward to my goals for next year, I don’t think I’ll get anywhere close to this year.

  • Finish Ninth Circle (50K words left)
  • Write Time’s Orphan (70K words)
  • Revise Time’s Orphan (70K)
  • Publish Codename: CNDRLA (75K)
  • Query The Belethea Race Royale (94K)

Total: 359K

But, that’s a goal I can really wrap my head around, one that’s completely in my control, and one that I’ll enjoy working toward.

My goal is words. My goal is writing. My goal is growth.

And it was a pretty awesome year. 😊

More to come!