What I Want to Accomplish in 2020

Happy New Year, everyone. I can hardly believe that we’re entering the 2020s! Time is zooming.

Today’s post is about what I hope to achieve in my writing career in 2020. If 2018 was my year of testing the indie publishing waters, and if 2019 was my year of struggle and experimentation, I’d like 2020 to be the year where I drop my boot on the gas pedal and put everything I’ve learned to good use.

I’ll put my big goal here on the blog so I don’t chicken out later: In 2020, I want to write six books and release six books.

Am I guaranteed to hit that number? Nope. And numbers aren’t everything. Most importantly, I want to continue having fun with my writing! And I want to keep having a life outside of work. So if I’m forced to choose between releasing six books and maintaining my sanity, sanity will win every time. But despite that caveat, I’m feeling pretty good about my ambitions. I’ve written two books quickly, and I’ve had fun with that, so releasing a book every other month doesn’t feel unreasonable given the processes I’ve put in place over the last few months.

Still, it’s scary to say it out loud. Write six books. Release six books. The idea makes me excited and a tiny bit nauseated. When it comes to setting goals, that’s the place I like to live: 60% excitement and 40% intimidation. Ha!

Finishing What I’ve Started

Another theme of mine is finishing what I’ve started. I’ve got a few partially-written series and I want to get them wrapped (or mostly wrapped) by the end of 2020. Those series are:

Emerald City Spies: Jessica’s story is bouncing around in my head like a drunk girl at a rave, and I want to finish it! That’s two more books, minimum.

Kat Voyzey Mysteries: I adore Kat, and this series has room for at least three more books in it. But it needs at least one more book to round out Kat’s story arc. So this year I’ll add a fourth book to the series. I’ve been sitting on a story idea for a long time, and I’ve been looking forward to writing it.

Ellie Tappet Cruise Ship Mysteries: I’m planning on six books total, and I’ve got two written. (although the second one is currently being edited) So that’s four more books for Ellie.

If you’re doing the math, you’ll see that my list adds up to more than six books. 2 + 1 + 4 = 7  So it’s possible that I’ll have a remainder at the end of the 2020. Or maybe I’ll push it and get all seven done? Either way, I want to get in the habit of finishing what I’ve started. Not only is it easier to finish one series before starting another, but I want my readers to trust that when I start something I’ll finish it before years and years have passed.

Making the Business Profitable

Another goal of ours is to flip our publishing business over to profitable territory. Like most businesses, we’ve had startup costs. Things like ISBN numbers, professional cover design, Writers Police Academy (classes), and attending our first industry conference. We spent all that money at a time when I wasn’t releasing many books, and those expenses put us in the red for a while. That was fine, but now it’s time to tighten down some screws and turn Adventurous Ink into a going concern.

In a practical sense, this means a few things:

  1. No expensive conferences or expensive classes this year. (I am taking classes, but they’re inexpensive and either local or online.)
  2. Some of my cozies are getting homemade book covers until they’ve earned enough money to justify an upgrade.
  3. We’re experimenting with new approaches like trying out Kindle Unlimited, when it seems there’s a clear revenue benefit.
  4. Before writing a series, I’ll check to see if there’s an audience for it.

Trade-Offs, Worries, and Excitement

There are physical limits to what a two-person team can comfortably accomplish in a year. Every business has trade-offs. For example, I’m dying to record an audiobook, but the 50-60 hours that recording would take has to be weighed against my more important goal of writing more books. Nor do I have 2-3 grand to throw at a professional narrator. So I’m trying to plan my goals around doing the most important things first, and saving the nice-to-do’s as optional. This likely means that ebooks will be our highest priority, with paper and audio being “nice to haves” when we have time. At least for now, while the business budget is tight.

Also, marketing continues to be a worrisome subject for me. I’m a marketing-averse person by nature, and I’m trying to traverse the narrow path between doing zero marketing (not wise) and being a chirpy marketing shill (gross). Opportunities abound, but I’m struggling to figure out which options make sense and fit with my personal ethics. For example, I recently got my first invitation from another author to do a cross-promotion. (I tell my readers about his books, and he tells his readers about mine.) This is a very simple and common form of marketing, but here I am getting all twisted up about the ethics of such a move. Is it okay to do this? I think yes, but I should read his books first, right, to make sure they are something I could honestly recommend? That seems fair. Anyway, I’m navigating this brave new world of author marketing with a great deal of trepidation, and I welcome your feedback along the way, blog buddies.

In short, I’m trying my hardest not to be annoying, fake, or douchey. If I ever cross that line, feel free to tap me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear.

Most of my excitement about work in 2020 comes from the fact that I’m genuinely happy about doing the work. All of the books I want to write are stories that matter to me, and thus the work itself will be fun, and that alone is likely to make for a rewarding year. And I also feel that more is possible now because I closed my other business down. No more splitting my attention or second guessing! Last but not least, I’m also thrilled to have Patrick as my business partner. I’ll admit, after 13 years as a soloprenuer, making every decision on my own, it’s still an adjustment to think about a business in terms of we rather than I. Partly that’s habit, but it’s also my personality. Yet it’s been so fun to work on these books together, to see “my books” become “our books” as we collaborate on ideas, book design, and more.

Big picture, beyond all the goals and planning, I’m happy to be doing work that I enjoy again, and to have a sense of teamwork again. On the day I started drafting this post, I was working on edits for one book, and Patrick was designing the paperback for the previous book. We took a break for Thai food and discussed twisty murder plots while we ate.

Me: I think I’m going to have to kill her.
P:  Yeah, because (describes plot situation).
Me: Exactly. I have to kill her because it won’t work otherwise.

The couple at the next table was giving us a very strange look while we ate. In retrospect, I need to sprinkle the word BOOK more often into our lunch meetings. Otherwise someone’s going to call the cops and we’ll have some ‘splainin to do.

Happy New Year, everyone. 😀 And whatever your goals are for 2020, I wish you luck!