One Year Ends, Another Begins

Well hello there. I haven’t written much on this blog of late, primarily because I’ve been wrestling with burnout and, for lack of a better word, depression over a number of factors, some of which I’ll talk about here. A lot of it is the realization that I need to change how I do the business side of writing, including communication and promotion. And…there are a lot of pieces I have to finagle.

One of the big reasons why I’ve been hanging back on writing much of anything here was the Substack Nazi blowup. I’ve been waiting to see what, if anything, would come of it. This isn’t my first go-round in dealing with a platform going problematic—Usenet, then LiveJournal are both pieces of my sordid internet past. However, it gets tiring to go through the steps. One thing I figured out very quickly was that I needed to ensure that I had a place to go for my author newsletter. I had planned to move it to Substack since TinyLetter is shutting down. Unfortunately, I still lost subscribers in the transition to Mailerlite.

Nonetheless, that particular issue had been nagging at me even before the blowup. Moving from TinyLetter to another venue was in the works for a while, simply because it’s a struggle to deal with at times. Links didn’t always want to work, pictures could be problematic. The move was inevitable even before MailChimp announced it was closing TinyLetter. It had just been a question of Mailerlite or Substack? Well, Substack decided to make that choice easier. Now I have to figure out this much more powerful communication tool. But that piece is taken care of.

When it comes to this blog, I already had strategies. The precept of “post first on a platform you control” has been a habit of mine for years, ever since early copyright discussions back in the ‘00s. I post first to my WordPress blog (which is the link which I will share from now on), then to Dreamwidth, then to Substack, at least until I figure out how to set up an easy transfer of my Substack followers to my WordPress blog with the ability to send out emails and gain visibility.

Another consideration is creating different income streams this year. I did not monetize my Substacks, fortunately, so that makes things much easier. I may set up a Patreon, and am looking into Kickstarter as well. Meanwhile, I’ve set up a Ko-fi (well, really, activated it) and am integrating it into my direct sales plan. I have a short story (Digital Clone Wars) and a novel available there (Federation Cowboy). More will be coming as I negotiate the narrow pathway with BookFunnel, PayPal, and Ko-fi. Buying my books there or donating, either one time or for an ongoing monthly contribution, will help a lot. Not only will this contribution go toward paying for editing and so on, but it will help with buying small horse things. Marker needs a new cinch, as well as hoof boots, so….

Straightforward link here since this old lady is still wrestling with the buttons.

So what else is going on besides major changes in platforms and wrestling with all of that stuff?

Well, Becoming Solo got booted out of the self-published novella competition on the verdict of one reviewer who openly admitted it was written in a style that didn’t work for them. That review hit hard for some reason, especially since the reviewer then turned around and posted it to Amazon. 3.8 rounded up to 4 stars, but the review itself…sigh. There are reasons not to read reviews and this situation was just one of them. Coupled with the reviews for other recent contest submissions where I get praised for writing style, then chucked out of the competition leaving the impression that it wasn’t well-written because it didn’t get past the first round….

Unlike other competitions, one drawback of these indie competitions is the visibility at all stages. People know if you’re part of the competition. Plus there’s a whole culture of freebies around them, which would be great if people went on to buy other books or request them from the library. However, I have my uncertainties about how many people actually read their free books.

I’ve already had doubts about two of the three major contests aimed at self-published authors, and my experiences this year just confirmed that I’m better off not wasting my time with them. I’m not writing what the reviewers want to reward. Rather than risk further backhanded praise with little gain, I’m directing my energy elsewhere.

What am I doing differently this year?

Well, last year I tried the weekly executive meeting with monthly summaries and weekly accountability posts. That was useful inasmuch as I identified one issue I’m having, that of needing to adjust when I write due to the seasons. During the winter I need to get out to the horses around midday because of the timing of sunset, which happens around 2:30 at the ranch. A fact of life in the mountains. But those posts contributed to my growing sensation of burnout.

Gaining the visible evidence (from my to-do tracking and the accountability posts) of the impact of the seasons on my productivity is huge. Now I can somewhat plan around seasons, regrouping on a quarterly basis.

The other thing I am doing is drafting these posts in Word, then cutting and pasting them into the WordPress blog, and going from there. I often have blog ideas while I’m out and about doing things, but if I’ve already posted for the day, I’m kinda reluctant to put up another one. So the notion drifts away and the essay doesn’t get written. I’m trying to change that situation because it feels like not getting those words out contributes to my sense of malaise.

I want to commit to a post a week, no particular day.

And finally, I’m trying to automate my promotional activities. If I don’t promote, no one buys a book. Since I’m not releasing any new work until midway through the year, I need to have sales of existing work and outreach to new readers. That means promotion. Ugh. But it’s gotta happen, so….

Getting long so that’s it for now. 2024 is a year of change.

How much change remains to be seen.

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