Older and Wiser for 2016

Winter scene at the lake - francis guenette photo

Okay – this post didn’t make it out last night – not as much time on my hands as I thought. But I’ll send it along anyway with New Year’s Day Best wishes.

I find myself with the miracle of time on my hands tonight as I usher out the old year. No fancy New Year’s Eve parties to attend, you ask? Well, as a matter of fact, no. Can’t even remember the last time I gussied up for such an event. Usually, this night is spent in quiet reflection. Bruce and I ponder and digest the accomplishments of the past year and, of course, the inevitable disappointments. We end up counting our blessings and planning for the year to come.

I’m far from Bruce this New Year’s Eve, staying in the big city with kids and grandkids. Most of my days and evenings are filled with anything but reflection. But tonight I’m off duty. Friends with kids are expected and I will fade to the background of my guest room for a time.

So, it’s you and me, blog community. Let the reflection begin. What has 2015 meant for me as an author? I brought out two books this year – in May, Chasing Down the Night, the third book in the Crater Lake Series, and in November, a standalone novel, Maelstrom. For most of 2015, I was rewriting, editing or formatting. With Maelstrom, I tackled e-book formatting for the first time. Like so many things, it was much easier in actual practice than I had anticipated. The trick seems to be in having an absolutely clean Word document to load up to Kindle Direct Publishing.

Though I’ve learned the hard way that most of what I can afford in the way of book marketing on the internet is generally not worth the effort, I tried a couple of promos with the release of Maelstrom. Well – as the title of this blog says – older and wiser for 2016. For those of you at the beginning of the learning curve on ebook promotion, marketing and sales, all I can suggest is that you spend serious time thinking about how many books you need to sell to break even on any type of promotion you consider. Blog tours, bulk email promotion, contests, paying to move up the line for a book review – all the sites that offer such services are clear when they tell you they do not guarantee sales. You’ll hear that it isn’t really about sales. It’s about recognition and getting your name and your books out there. Do your homework. If the sites where your name and book appear do not generate a lot of traffic – well, what can I say? And read the fine print before you pay for anything. I’ve learned that most of the reasonably priced services don’t amount to much. I admit it has taken more than once burned, twice shy to do the trick for me. More like eight times burned but I think I’ve finally got the message.

I had a five year plan when Disappearing in Plain Sight started down the road to publication in 2012. I would build the social media network the way all the sage advice of the day insisted, I would write a book a year and I would be in the business of self-publishing for the long haul. If you write it, they will come and all of that. Well, I built the network and I’m four books and over halfway down the road of that five year plan but nothing happens simply because the supposed experts say it will.

I have resolved that 2016 will usher in an era of facing up to the reality of self-publishing. There are no shortcuts, no magic methods and no guarantees. You can do everything right and it won’t dictate success any more than buying a lottery ticket ensures a jackpot win. If you enjoy social media (and I’ve discovered that there are things about the vast endeavour that I really do enjoy) – go for it but don’t expect it to sell books. It doesn’t. Books are sold based on what readers have to say to one another about what they’ve read.

What I want in 2016 is real connection with readers and fellow writers. I know I haven’t found a means of maximizing on that desire via social media but I’m determined to keep on trying. And I want to write another book.

To those of you who’ve connected with me – thank you. I love the engagement. I appreciate the time it takes out of a busy schedule to read a blog post, make a comment or offer a word of encouragement. To all of the readers who’ve taken the time to review one of my books or let me know what they thought of my work – I am eternally grateful. The validation means a lot.

Happy New Year and here’s hoping we are all a bit wiser in 2016.

North Island Ice Sculpture - Francis L. Guenette

25 comments on “Older and Wiser for 2016

  1. The landscape pictures are great images.

  2. evelynralph says:

    I laud your determination to stick to the plan. My plans continully get thwarted. Last year was so much that way that Zi kind of gave up on long term plans. However, I am still determined to get my computer either fixed, or the info lifted this year.
    Evelyn

  3. Wow! Those photos are stunning, Fran.
    You certainly had a busy year in 2015, and it sounds as though you’ve got a good plan for the new year.
    Happy New Year to you and Bruce! We’re home-bodies too on NYE. 🙂

  4. Gallivanta says:

    Wishing you all the best for 2016.

  5. Oliana says:

    I admire all that you have accomplished this past year. Blogging does take time and I’ve learned I’m writing more than reading and reading more books other bloggers have written because I’m proud of them. Happy New Year!

    • What a great comment 🙂 Definitely takes time to blog but what a world of great bloggers out there willing to share the ups and downs of just about whatever pursuit one might be interested in. Sharing the wealth of knowledge is what it’s all about. If we do it right – by thinking about giving back, we can build a true community in the blog world.

  6. Fabulous photos and very wise words on promotion. Some self-published writers manage to strike it lucky but most of us struggle. The few I know who have ‘broken through’, at least with one book, I think it has been at the expense of their writing – too busy working at promotion to write another book. I guess, to some extent, it comes down to what you want to achieve – success or the satisfaction of having published what you have written. Wish there could be a middle way. Perhaps there is and I just haven’t yet found it. Anyway keep trying and I’ll be watching for tips that I can also use to promote my books. All the best for 2016.

    • I totally agree with your take of the whole promotion thing – time consuming and, at least for me, too much effort expended, often in the wrong direction. But, as you say, the thing is to keep on trying. And I will.

  7. All the best to you and Bruce for a “wise” and wonderful 2016, Fran! I appreciate your frank comments regarding the marketing of our self-published creations, and it leads me, once again, to believing that the real secret is a great story and lots of luck! Happy New Year!:-)

    • It does seem that good luck plays a definite role but without that great story, all the luck in the world won’t do us much good. What a conundrum. From the start, I wanted this blog to be transparent about the writing process and what came next. I hope I’m achieving that goal. Best wishes for you and yours, Mark, in 2016.

  8. MariHoward says:

    Lovely post and photos. Good to share your experiences which are pretty much mine as another Indie writer. I suspect we shall never be big news, those of us who do not write the kind of genres which sell fastest – and it takes time to build a reader list (etc) but I’d rather read your kinds of books for choice! Am at present intrigued by Maelstrom (so v different to the Crater Lakes series) but brave of you to write something so different and a great story in its own genre. Happy New Year!

  9. smilecalm says:

    may you break even
    & more this year, Francis 🙂

  10. jackiemallon says:

    Happy 2016, Francis. Your wisdom is appreciated as I approach the (hopefully) final draft of my novel. It’s a funny old game, it is. I’ve had so many people say things like “You should just self-publish with no ties to anyone. It’s the way of the future. You’re mad if you don’t.” like it’s some guaranteed route to success that I haven’t thought about.
    But let’s not forget you’ve had a very productive year and congratulations on it. I wish you more of the same in the months ahead.

    • Acknowledge the accomplishments – thanks for the reminder and the well wishes, Jackie 🙂 I look forward to your next novel. Certainly there are no guaranteed routes to success but a great book (like Silk for the Feed Dogs) sure has to be one of the prerequisites.

  11. Thanks for sharing such an informative post. I must admit, I am cowed (no pun intended) by your accomplishments. I’m half-way into my first novel and it can be daunting at times. My hats off to you. Congratulations on sticking to a five-year-plan, your books, and most importantly, your perseverance. You are an inspiration. BTW, love the pictures!

    • It is certainly true that the learning curve on writing a book these days is not confined to the art of writing. So much more is involved. We authors can no longer indulge our desire to remain locked away in our cozy lairs. Best wishes on your first novel 🙂 I look forward to hearing and reading more.

  12. Thanks for following my blog.

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