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