My Author Year and Goals for the New Year

2023 Checklist

If you’re new to these parts, you might not know that it’s time for an end of year reflection and goal setting blog post. Well, even if you’re not exactly new, the concept is pretty standard this time of year. Let’s start this thing off looking at this year and see how far off I was from my goals.

Grab a cup-o-joe ☕️ and kick your feet 👣 up, this is a long one.

Here were my five big goals for 2022:

  • Publish 2 books in my new series. We’ll count this as a MISS. While I did finish writing two of them, only one is edited. I haven’t started editing the second yet. Instead, I’ve been taking some time these past few weeks to outline Nursery. We’ll talk more about my goals for this series in the 2023 goal section. Needless to say, while I did write the books, the goal was actually publishing them so it’s a miss.
  • Publish another book in Dark Nebula. This one is a HIT! I released Nursery on August 3rd, 2022. I’ve hit this Dark Nebula goal for a few years now, and I’ll have more on this goal for the series in my 2023 goals.
  • Share my character bios. Another MISS here. I didn’t really share any of my character bios at all. For the new series or the old. It’s something I still want to do, I just need to take the time and get in the character headspace to do it.
  • Get one of my books into a local bookshop or library. Another MISS. I’m not exactly racking up the points here, am I? I did spend time making sure my books were all available in the system, and I also renewed my library cards. Now, I just need to go in and not feel like I’m on an ego trip requesting my own books.
  • Read more. I did a pretty good job here. Not perfect, but I didn’t not read. To be fair, I’ll call it a MISS, but I did check off these books this year:

If you’re keeping a tally, That’s 1 HIT and 4 MISSES which makes me 1 for 5 in terms of goals. Yikes!

I didn’t get the time I wanted to release the new series like I’d planned. Though I wrote a lot, I spent a lot of time progressing my author business. Here are a few of the other things I accomplished this year:

  • Wrote 3 books. That’s Dark Nebula Graveyard, Drowning Earth (Portals #1), and Portals #2. That’s a total of 368k words this year. Not too shabby!
  • Sent 28 newsletters. So essentially, one every 2 weeks with a few extra for announcements. Right on target since I switched to bi-weekly.
  • Posted 3 blog posts. This is half what I did last year. Yikes! I’ll likely blog more this year, for other reasons I’ll get into later.
  • Sold over 1,400 ebooks. This is all ebooks that were not free and was almost tree times the year before.
  • Gave away over 11,600 free ebooks. Still all Dark Nebula Isolation, as you already know. Not quite double the year before but getting close.
  • Grew my newsletter to over 1,850 subscribers. It was actually quite larger, but I pruned a bunch of inactive users who never read or engaged with it at all.
  • Ran 18 paid email ads. Pretty darn close to last year. This next year I’ll likely prune this as they weren’t cost-effective.
  • Tried 60 BookBub ads. I retried these to see if I could zero them in. Some did pretty well, others not. I’ll likely keep some running, but need to control the spend.
  • Attended the 20 Books Conference. I met some great new people in my industry and really learned a lot. Like with last year, this conference was a jolt of energy I needed coming at the end of the year.
  • Produced all 4 covers for my new series. They’re all done and dusted. I spent a while working with my designer on them, doing the back and forth feedback and all. Now they’re just waiting for the books to be written.
  • Edited the AI Audiobook for Isolation. I hope to release it in the new year on Google Play, Kobo, and Chirp. They’re the only platforms that accept AI narration right now. The others in the series will follow soon thereafter as I work through them. I also had my designer create covers for the entire series, as well.
  • Moved most of my author social media to Mastodon. You can find my account over at https://mastodon.online/@willson if you’re looking for someone to follow. I won’t be spending much if any time over on Twitter anymore.

Like with previous years, I want to be honest about the ups and downs of self-publishing. I don’t know if readers understand the cost of running an author business. Here are a few charts that show the progress I made this year.

2022 Sales by Retailer
2022 Sales by Retailer
2022 Monthly Sales
2022 Monthly Sales

Some things to point out about these charts (which I also shared last year). My earnings for the year were nearly twice last year, and that’s only with a single new release. Can you guess what month that release was in? 😉 Also, for this year, notice the much healthier wide segments of the pie. Yes, Amazon is the largest, but not by much. Apple and Google are pretty nicely sized, and overall, I have healthy sales across all ebook retailers.

Alright, let’s move on to my 2023 goals. Shall we? Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Publish a KickStarter (or two). As you could tell from my poll in the last newsletter, I’m planning a KickStarter (KS). I was happy to see that about 60% of the people who responded were keen on hearing more about it and possibly participating in it. I’m hoping to use KS as a means to reach a new audience of readers in 2023. Look for more on this in future newsletters. It’ll either be Book 6 of Dark Nebula, or Book 1 of my new Portal Series. More on why, next.
  • Publish another book in Dark Nebula. It’s book 6 in the series, and it’s entitled Nursery. For those of you that are interested, it’s up for pre-order on all the major retailers. The scheduled release date is August 4th, 2023. I already have most of the outline written and intend to start the writing in the new year (or sooner). So, what makes book 6 so special to possibly warrant a KS? I’m glad you asked. After a lot of soul-searching, I’m planning on Nursery being the close of the Dark Nebula series. Yes, you read that right. It’s ending! At least the end of all the current story arcs. It’ll be a nice place to close the series, and there will be plenty of opportunity for me to use some of your favorite characters in future trilogies or spin-offs. While not immediately, of course, I have some fun ideas already stewing in my idea pad. I’ve had a few of you reach out about when the series would end in the past few months. While I originally always saw it as 9 books, I feel like 6 is a nice healthy number. It also isn’t so long that people dread reading it. I have progressed a lot in my writing. So much so that I worry that if people don’t like my writing in book 1, they’ll think the others are the same. They’re not! I got way better as I wrote more. And trust me, there were parts of Isolation that were rough. I should know, I re-edited the entire thing while I was converting it into the AI narrated audiobook I mentioned earlier. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s definitely better than it was. Anyhow, look for more details on the end of the Dark Nebula series in future newsletters and here on this blog.
  • Release a book in the Portals Series WIDE. I want to say more than one, but I have no idea what it’s going to take to prepare for and run the KickStarter. I will certainly be writing the third book and ideally the fourth, but if I want to kick-start things right (see what I did there), then I’ll need to invest in getting things setup right. Because the KS will be available well before the regular book in the stores, depending on timing, I don’t want to obligate myself to releasing two only to fail. So for now, I’m locking in one of them but hope to release more.
  • Write the third book in the Portal series. While I won’t likely have released the second book this next year (unless I get ahead of myself), I want to finish the third book. Outlining, writing, editing, and releasing takes time. And I want to make progress in this series, as it’s only planned to have 4 books.
  • Start writing a book in a new third series. No, I don’t plan on releasing it in 2023, but I do want to start writing in another new series. I enjoyed the flip-flop from one series to another when I wrote the last few Dark Nebula books and the Portal books. It frees up my mind to think about new ideas while the other books rest and soak. That change makes it easier to approach them later when I enter my many rounds of editing. Nothing is more painful than 5-6 months of only the same books and universe.

And that’s it. I’m setting more focused goals than last year because I have high hopes that I’ll hit them all. Also, they’re goals meant to build my brand and my backlist of books.

In recent reflection on my author journey these past few years, what became clear to me was that I don’t have enough variety to my backlist. You only know me as the Dark Nebula author. Nothing more. While that’s not horrible, it’s not what I want. I have so much more to offer you as a writer than that one series. I just need to show you. That means I need to release in this new Portal series, and ideally, start writing in a third new series as well.

For me, 2023 is going to be the year I diversify and really show you, my reader, how much fun we can have. I’m excited about these new projects, and I have some truly fun and unique things planned for my KickStarters. I hope you’ll give them a go.

I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect a bit more on all my misses this year. While I accomplished a lot, I missed most of my goals. But notice I’m not beating myself up over it. You might be asking why. Because I tried my best. We’ve all been dealing with shit sandwiches these past few years, and we need to give ourselves a break. Take some time off from goals if you need to in 2023 and find yourself. Seriously. We’re all doing the best we can in this post pandemic reality, and we just can’t do all the things. I know you want to, but you can’t. Just do your best to move forward and keep on keeping on. Along the way, try not to lose sight of your dreams. But if you do, maybe they weren’t the right dreams anyhow.

If you’re having trouble coping and need someone to talk to, please reach out to a professional. There are people and groups that can help you through these turbulent times.

I hope you have a happy and healthy New Year in 2023!

Thanks again for reading.

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