Thursday, January 6th, 2011

2010: Writing Year in Review – Part 1

I’m starting to set goals for the New Year, but before I can do so, I needed to look through the events and accomplishments of the past year to see how I’d done. I’m just now finishing up my review.

Overall, I’m pleased – though I recognize a few areas I can improve on. There are also some lessons learned.

I’m nearly finished edits on a new novel and will be seeking representation early in 2011. So, my main focus for 2010 was “building my platform,” as current wisdom suggests that writers looking for agents need to have a platform in order to score one.

To that end, I engaged in the following platform-building activities last year:

  • 3 “Rapid Fire Readings” and participation on several panels at Balticon, Capclave and Darkover Conventions
     
  • 4 seminars taught (How to Sell Short Fiction) at all three conventions, plus once at a Maryland Writer’s Association meeting
     
  • In February, I participated in a reading at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC along with Ellen Kushner, Catherine Asaro and others. I also did a reading at Constellation Book Store with authors in the Bad Ass Fairies Anthology series
     
  • I joined my state writers group and became secretary of the local chapter
     
  • I created an Amazon Author page, joined Facebook and, in December, checked out Networked Blogs. (Jury’s still out, there.)
     
  • I taught a half-semester writing course at the local community college
     
  • I engaged in a one “failed” blog tour

    That comment probably deserves some explanation as to why I call it failed: I contracted with a company who promised to 1) book me on 20 different sci fi/fantasy and horror blogs, 2) create a graphic which I could use to promote the tour, and 3) create a “motion banner” which I could use for advertisement.

    By the start date of the tour, they’d booked me on fewer than half the required blogs, and the ones they did book me on were predominantly romance or young-adult themed. The “graphic” was a slice of my book cover, neither artfully, nor skillfully, done. (It was horrible.) And the motion banner had still not been created more than two-thirds through the tour. I finally told them to cease trying to make one.

    But I made lemonade when I called on fellow Broads at Broad Universe , as well as fellow authors at both Eternal Press and Damnation Books.

    Thanks to those authors, I wound up with guest posts and interviews at 27 other blogs. (Thank you, fellow authors!)

    Lessons learned:

    • Get more than one or two opinions of a company’s ability to perform.
    • “Past performance is not an indicator of future performance” – in a company’s ability to perform.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – even from casual acquaintances.


  • In October, I joined EPIC – the Electronically Published Internet Connection (Formerly EPPIE), in some part to see if Blood Soup could win another award, but mostly in order to make more connections. (Sadly, I’ve not involved myself as much as I probably should.)
     
  • Also in October, I signed with a publicity company to bring more traffic to my Web site. We’ll need to wait a few months to see how this pans out.

    Has the work paid off? Yes and no.

    The good: I’ve been asked back to several of the conventions. I’ve been asked to teach my seminar again. And (the best part, IMO), I’ve been asked to participate in a few “invitation only” anthologies.

    The bad: I’m really tired.   (It’s been a really involved year!) Also: my writing output suffered. I exceeded my word-count goal, but only because I wrote so much non-fiction.

    So…that’s it for platform building.

    This post is getting long, so I’ll end for now. In the next installment, I’ll talk about the hard numbers: words I wrote, submissions I made, sales, etc.

    What did you do to build your platform last year?

6 comments to 2010: Writing Year in Review – Part 1

  • What did I do to build my platform last year….

    I think I need to do a whole blog on this one. But, basically, all my work for BU as the readings & events chick. In addition to the 6 conventions I attended & was actively part of, I started the podcast & advertised it, helped with a few blog tours. 😉 And I got a bunch of press and events for the latest BAD-ASS FAERIES book. I also did some great networking with the New England Horror Writers at Rock & Shock and continue to keep up with that.

    In a nutshell.

    Where I suffered? I did not search or find nearly as many paying non-fic gigs this year as I did last year. And, well… I kinda need $. So, that’s getting rebalanced for 2011. 🙂

    I think looking for that balance by doing this kind of comparing & contrasting & evaluating is the one step that will make the difference in setting realistic & attainable resolutions & goals.

    Thanks for posting and inviting us to join you!

    • Hi Trish!

      Podcasts! I forgot to add those to my list! Thanks for the reminder… Balance is good. This year I want to have a balance in all areas, rather than be “outstanding” in one. 🙂 And check out my friend Mellissa Abreu: she’s adding a lot of “self” goals this year in addition to writing stuff.

  • What did I do to build my platform last year…

    I finished my novel. Finally.

    I also submitted to the MWA’s novel contest and picked up second place. I used the winnings to purchase and set up my own hosted site with my name as a domain. After a couple of false starts, I’ve narrowed my site’s focus to a year-long project that I wanted to do for a while. 2011 will show if my approach is interesting and if there is enough substance to my project to warrant further work on it.

    Lastly, I completed a freelance feature article, which was fantastic for my ego and helped affirm my ability to write to those who thought writing stories was a “hobby”.

    Need Improvement: making regular posts (my blog) and comments (blogs I follow), move from the audience to the panel at a conference, upload and sell a novella on Smashwords and Amazon.com, submit at least 30 agent queries for my novel, and begin work on my next novel (a shape-shifting little girl on the run).

    • Hi Carl!

      1) I like the look of your new Web site. Very inviting. Can anyone join and log in?
      2) Where’s your feature article posted? I’d love to read it.
      3) We’ll have to compare notes on the agent search. I’ve got my strategy outlined completely…
      4) I need help with my Smashwords uploads…can you help? 🙂

      • 1) Right now, login is by invitation only, but that is partially due to work and I expect to change it in February. That also gives me time to concentrate on making good posts and putting together my “beta reader” program. Please stay tuned!

        2) My feature article is at http://270inc.com/current – page 48-49 (online reading only). I’ve asked for a couple of printed copies and hope to have them in a couple of weeks.

        3) My agent search is primarily through QueryTracker.com right now, using their tracking software and direct links to agent sites/interviews to focus on those most likely to want “Reboot”.

        4) I haven’t uploaded yet, but I’m more than happy to help. What do you need me to do?

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