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Dreams and Goals for 2024

Updated: Dec 14, 2023


Announcements First

For those of you who pre-ordered G581: Zarmina's World, my deepest apologies, but I do not believe I will be able to finish it in time. And due to having delays with another book, Amazon will not allow me to simply change the pre-order date with the book, but force me to cancel it entirely. This means you will receive a refund for your pre-order and not have any other info on when it will arrive. This is a weirdness in the Amazon system, an understandable one, but frustrating nonetheless. I advise that you follow me on Amazon or your favorite bookselling platform in order to receive notification for when it will come out. Things are in flux, and I hope to have a more certain release date soon (more on that below), but know that you are important to me. Almost as important as it is to write the story well. That comes first. I promise you, it is a priority for me!


And Now Back to Our Regular Programming

It is officially the beginning of December, just past midnight, as I sit down to edit and add to my dreams and goals for 2024. I'm not usually up this late, but Thursday nights are my pool league nights, something I look forward to all week. I won at 8-ball tonight, which was a very nice continuation of my winning streak. I've won five of the past seven matches I played and (cross my fingers) I might even qualify for the MVPs this season. I'm psyched, I really am. Shooting pool, that's really the only sport I've ever enjoyed, and I really love the game.


By late November, early December, my world is full of end of year, holiday and family stuff, but it is also a time when I find my thought straying to the upcoming year, and what I want to see from it.


The thoughts occur with more frequency as the year draws closer to an end. I think of all aspects. Personal health goals, family, writing, property improvement, savings, and so much more. And each year, these turn into scribbled notes, long lists, and sometimes an overwhelming and likely unrealistic number of goals. What can I say, I'm a realist with a ridiculous side of optimism!


As we head out of 2023 and stand on the edge of 2024, I think of how it is amazing how life can turn on a dime. Covid, for example, is the reason I now have fifteen books, instead of, what ten? Coming back from a trip overseas that March saw the borders closing behind us and my cleaning business disappearing into the ether. But it was also a catalyst for opportunity. I seized on it, pivoted, and began to write.


Gaining an infant son in late 2021 meant pivoting again. Then again as we looked forward to adopting our two littles in mid and late 2022. It required seeing our own aging and retirement in an entirely different light.


I might be standing on the edge of a new change, a new pivot, in which I take my short-term rental and transform it instead into a long-term rental. Honestly? Although the money is good, I'm almost hoping I do have to switch Cottage West to a standard, long-term rental. It would mean no longer having to make sure I'm nearby 24/7, worrying about the place when I would rather be on vacation, or interrupting my writing each and every day to go clean up after a guest has left. If I find myself pushed into a standard rental situation, so be it, I'm actually going to be okay with it, because I can clearly see the benefits that would accompany that change. In any case, I'll know more in a month or two, and we will make the decision then to either continue with short-term rentals or transition to long-term. Either way, I know I can make it work.


Maybe that is the secret to a happy life, seeing opportunity in what others might see as hardship or stress. Maybe that's my superpower. Who knows?


The Past Few Years Summarized...

I didn't keep great stats early on, but there really wasn't much to track in terms of book sales. Here, though, is a basic overview of where I was and where I'm going with this whole writing thing.


Let's look at total book sales for the past few years, first.

In 2020, I published Tales of the Collapse at the end of the year, bringing my total published to eight total books, and I sold a total of 181 books across those eight different books.

In 2021, the year I published G581: Mars, Smoke and Steel, G581: Earth, and put out the War's End Omnibus, bringing my total number of books published to eleven (I don't count omnibus editions), and I sold a total of 183 books. Yes, just two more than the year before.

Last year, in 2022, our youngest was sleeping through the night and in daycare and I was finally able to crank out two more, Winter's Child and Short-Term Rental Success, bringing my total number of books published to thirteen. I played around with Amazon ads (losing my shirt in the process), but ended up selling 2,093 books. Holy cannoli! That was amazing but also frustrating because my net profit at the end of it was a loss of over $2,300. Amazon Ads really did not work for me.

This year, 2023, I hoped to produce three books, but it is looking like G581: Plague Tales and Broken Code will be it for the year, which brings my total books published to fifteen. As of the end of October, I have sold over triple the amount of 2022, a total of over 6,200 books and finally, finally a small net profit of nearly $1,700 in sales by the end of October. It would have been around $2,600+ in net profits if I had avoided trying once again with Amazon Ads (ouch).

That said, I've learned some interesting lessons this year that taught me a lot, and I made some good moves that will serve me well in the future.


So in short form...

*Correction, I recently received updated reports that show my net income through the end of October is actually $2,582.85! I'll have all of the numbers for 2023 sometime in Feb/March 2024.

  • BookBub and Chirp promotions really work - If you love inexpensive ebooks, sign up for the BookBub newsletter and get a ton of great deals (free, 99 cents, and more) on books in your favorite genre. The same goes for Chirp if you prefer audiobooks. I advertise in them as often as I can now.

  • I'm finding better promos - Going wide, and taking advantage of KOBO promos (of which many are offered at zero cost to me or an additional 10% of my sales) has made a huge difference in my sales.

  • Emails to libraries sells books - Tackling libraries (4,000+ in a database), at 20 emails per day per book, every day, promoting my different books - it will take around 200 days of 20 emails per day for each book, but it is so worth it. I'm seeing sales through Ingram Spark increase exponentially as a result. I will continue to reach out as I roll out new books as well. Some are still a bit snooty about Indie authors, but others are not. It's worth the 15 or so minutes I spend on it each day.

  • Audiobooks are the future - Actually, they are the present and I'm missing out on income every single day I don't offer every single one of my books in audio. Imagine my shock to see that, in 2019 I sold 140 copies of The Storm in ebook/paperback and 76 in audio. And in 2020? I sold 15 copies in ebook/paperback and 38 in audio! This is also why I likely won't have G581:Zarmina's World ready this year, because audiobooks are consuming every moment of my time right now.

  • Throwing money at it doesn't necessarily make everything better - I've invested in copy editors, blurb writers, cover artists, Amazon ads, and more. But as the years unspool and I become more and more familiar with the craft of marketing (what covers look right in my genre and what don't), and I have found an efficient and free way to edit my work properly using a combination of ProWritingAid and reading aloud (yes, I will be combining this with the recording of my audiobooks) to weed out nearly all grammatical/spelling issues. Realizing how much I was spending really helped me say "no" to a lot of things.

  • Just because it is intimidating, or "out of my wheelhouse" doesn't mean I should consider trying to do it myself - It means that creating audiobooks narrated by me, in my authentic voice is a reality that is coming soon. I've also taught myself how to create book covers, and not just the flat ebook images, but also the wrap around covers for paperbacks and hardcovers! I might choose to employ a cover designer for some books - the Benton Security Services series for example - but others

  • AI isn't all bad, but there are certain things I will NOT be using it for - I love how I can upload my entire manuscript to Claude and ask for a sales description (aka book blurb) and get it in seconds. It needs work, editing, tweaking, but it is just what I need to get my book blurb out there and attracting readers. I also love how AI can quickly create keywords out of that same manuscript, and craft sales emails to libraries and ads that I might use in the future to try, once again, my luck at Amazon Ads. But I won't be using AI to write my books or narrate my audio (not even in my cloned voice, I was... disappointed... with the quality). A funny thing happened when I was recording the three hours of my voice that Eleven Labs. I realized how much I enjoy narrating. That was a powerful lesson, folks!

And you might really laugh at what I have to say next.


I'm shooting for a pretty big goal. One that will undoubtedly take longer than just 2024 to accomplish. I'm eyeing a goal of $50,000 net income (or more) per year. That would be a real game changer for us, it really would. And I think it is doable by cutting my costs to the bone, writing my heart out, and making sure my books are available in every format (ebook, paperback, hardcover, large print, and audio) everywhere I can possibly put them. And if we end up transitioning to all traditional rentals, I'll have even more time to work on this goal.


$50k or Bust?

Nah. Honestly, I'd keep writing one way or the other. It's in my DNA at this point. I love telling stories and sharing them. Sure, I'd like to make loads of money while doing it, who wouldn't? But even if I somehow have a breakout hit and find myself raking in more than $50k, I don't think a lot would change for me, other than to make that safety net we have already created a little stronger, or the bucket list of dreams a little easier to accomplish.


In the end, it's just a goal. One that I will either fall short of, achieve, or shoot past.


I was talking with a neighbor the other day and he said, "Well, $6k for the year isn't bad."


I laughed, because if I had made that in net profits, I'd be pretty stoked about it. I looked back on my average income per book. Now, keep in mind, that's a difficult number to determine between all the formats and keeping in mind giveaways and sales, but I do have two numbers to share... 91 cents and 21 cents. I have earned an average of 91 cents per book sold this year before expenses. After expenses, that amount ends up being an average 21 cents earned per book sale. If you think that is ridiculously small - traditional authors can expect around 10 cents per book if they go through a publisher.


If you were imagining me rolling down a mountain of cash, I hope I have dispelled that notion! Writers write, not for fame or fortune, but because we are completely unrealistic, dream-addled creatures with more words than cents (yes, that is a deliberate play on words).


But since I'm also the financial manager of the family, I've been hard at work slashing whatever costs are extraneous or indulgent. This year, my expenses totaled over $3,800. At least $1,000 of that was BookBub ads and they paid for themselves. Covers were another , but the rest? I'm slashing costs as much as possible and hopefully handling most of the cover creation myself, which means significant savings. My base budget for 2024, not including marketing, is less than $1,000.


Writing Goals for 2024

As I drove to Blue Springs last night, I could feel it rising in me. The need to write. This blog, while nice, doesn't really count. I'm talking about the weaving of story, words, dreams, and more. Just when I think, "I'll do xyz, then abc, then..." My creative urge to write kicks in and tosses my timelines completely out of the window. I had almost convinced myself to stop writing and just handle the recording of all of my books into audio format (along with the edits and uploads) when the feeling overtook me - driving to Side Pockets to shoot pool with my teammates, and again, as I drove home in the heavy rain.


Just to calm it down, to give it something to focus on and allow me to eventually be able to sleep without words and phrases dancing through my grey folds, I sat down and wrote the poem below:



The Rising

It starts as these things do

With a whisper

A tickle in my ear

Barely more than subliminal

A word murmured

Write

A shifting of sand and sea and mountain and sky

All possible realities move within me

A dream of words skittering across a page

Diamond drops of creation on the tip of my tongue

Hiding in a pen meant for curlicues and loops

Write

It says louder

More than a whisper

Not quite a command

More entreaty mixed with influence

Write

No longer a request

But a reminder of who I am

Who I am meant to be

Needs must it changes still into an imperative

WRITE

More than the thrall of the rushing suck of water from the sand between my toes

This need, this rising, this, this, THIS

I answer the siren call of the inevitable

Open my heart and my mind to what comes next

Set my pen to paper

And…


I actually call that feeling, that need to write, the "rising." Because that is how it feels. It is a force of nature, let me tell you, and the driving force behind much of my creative work to date.


And all of that is to say that, for now, 2024's writing and production schedule is still up for grabs. When I get done cleaning Cottage West today, I'll eat lunch and then open up my manuscript in progress for G581: Zarmina's World and see if the story has something it needs to say, something it is ready for me to faithfully produce for the world. If not, I'll likely kick the muse in the teeth and return to editing my audio files for Short-Term Rental Success as they are over halfway complete.


I want to promise the world. I want to tell you that I'm going to write:


  • G581: Zarmina's World

  • The Retirement Home

  • Tempting Fate (book 4 in the Benton Security Services series)

  • The Family

  • The Glass Forest

  • Quit Your Job, Change Your Life (along with a workbook and goals planner)


All in the next year. Reality will soon intercede. Or spring will come and I will flee outside to dig in the dirt. I'm flighty like that. I'll tell you I'm sorry if it would make you feel better, but honestly, I'm just doing what works for my weird little brain. Always, though, is the hope that you will keep checking in, find patience in my eccentricities, and enjoy the books I do manage to produce.


All the Rest - Lots of Goals!

Health - I have plenty of other goals forming on paper, in my head, as the rest of the year disappears and the temps plunge outside. I have a long-term goal of losing up to 30 more pounds. Considering I've already lost 37, that would literally change my wardrobe, my shape, everything. I was quite pleased to have to return a size 14 jeans I bought the other day. I put them on and found them loose! I started out three years ago in a size 18 that was trying to push into a size 20. I've reversed my Type 2 pre-diabetes diagnosis and I will not need statins any longer to control my cholesterol. That's HUGE. My goal is simply to make the scale go down a pound a month. That said, I've been arguing with it since October on getting (and staying) below 184, but I'll get there. I am considering adding in more walking, just internal, through the house, up and down the stairs, kind of thing and also incorporating hand weights into my daily regimen.

Behold the Polish chicken

Family - The rock in my world? My family - my husband, my kids. Always and forever. I am taking the next year slow, because my teen is 17 now, and will turn 18 next fall. Eighteen! Where have the years gone? In this last year with us, I want to create even more special moments with him before he is fully grown and has a busy life of his own. I want to enjoy our littles, take time to do some cool, fun things with them. Travel to see an eclipse. Go on a cruise. Hang some fun swings in the yard. Maybe build a treehouse (well, have one built, lol). Enjoy our lives. Cook meals. Take adventures. Explore a cave or two. Make memories.


I love them rather desperately. All of them. I smile when I see them in the morning and I cannot imagine my life without them. They are all amazing, and there's a lot of love and laughter going on over here. Illness, tantrums and occasional bouts of wailing too, but hey, that's life.


Without them, I doubt I would do half of what I do. I hope that you have folks half as special in your life. I really do. Because if you do, then you know exactly what I mean when I say that life with them is just what I need and want right now.


I think that's about it for now, folks. Have an amazing Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa. Eat amazing food, be with the people you love (and who love you), and if I don't post again this year, well, I'll see you on the other side!


Find Me on Facebook  

Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!



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