What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t been said?
The Start of the Year
The year started with such hope for me. I had so many big plans. I even managed to get some of them done.
I went to a craft conference (the WMG Anthology Workshop) where I watched and listened to some great editors tear apart a hundred and sixty short stories to place them in 6 anthologies. Over sixty shorts were bought (yes, really bought – I’ve already received the check for one short I sold), three of them mine. I had a ‘potential’ sale on the fourth.
It was amazing, both on a craft and business perspective. I wanted to see / do so much more of it – and I had planned to! 20booksVegas, another business workshop, maybe a craft one…
Covid & its effects on me
And then, well, Covid happened. And the world went into lockdown. For a few months, while I tried to write Second Expedition, I also doomscrolled continuously. Did the same throughout the year, but March – May was an anxiety filled time. We had the kid at home, the wife was at home and plans for the year were cancelled (including flights and trips that were booked). And while I work from home, having everyone at home was… interesting.
Other plans, like moving from Whitehorse to Toronto were cancelled. Still no idea when we’ll do it. Because of where we live, we’re sheltered in many ways from the effects of the virus and summer was almost like normal (with no travel and more camping / kayaking). So, we might be up here for another few years…
Which isn’t horrible, but is frustrating in some ways.
No conferences, no visiting friends. But none of my family have caught it, no one has died (yet); so… I’m luckier than most. It makes entirely grateful in many ways, considering the effects its had on so many others.
Writing & Publishing Effects
Writing wise, the various delays in writing played out through the year. I ended up running roughly 2 months behind or so, with only 3 books released in the main series. While I had planned a more ‘relaxed’ year of 4 books written and released in the year, the entire quarantine / BLM / election thing just threw me off.
Note, I say 4 books, but really, I’m counting somewhat weirdly. For example, last year, I released a total of 8 books, but 5 were ‘full’ books (3 SA, 2 ATL, 2 AoB and 1 SA Anthology). This year, I released 8 books too myself, but only 5 were ‘full books (2 ATL, 1 SA, 1 HW and 1 LuL with 3 translations). Of those, LuL is a co-written book, HW was written in 2019 mostly and the rest were written this year. Thus, the difference in numbers and the way I’m counting.
On top of all that, I launched and offered to publish people this year. That only ended up with picking 1 person since the others weren’t at the stage that I thought they needed to be. And, to my horror and ego-destruction, Grayson’s Trinity of the Hive series has not done well. Good reviews (the books are good!) but not great sales. There might be a lot of excuses for it (marketing, genre, competition, etc.) but at the end of the day, I failed him.
I also learnt a lesson that I’m just not that interested in playing publisher. It’s something I intuited but realised only now. That I have more fun writing than playing publisher. It’s nice to help launch careers, or help people out, but at the end of the day – I’m more interested in writing. It’s why I shifted to working with KT Hanna as a co-author for the SA series. And why I might look at more co-author projects. It’s just more fun working on plots, scenes, writing it myself / editing/etc than just… publishing.
Always good to learn new things about oneself.
On that note, I have loved co-authoring with Angela. Working with her has been a blast, since our sense of humor and styles mixed really well. Even though Leveled Up Love didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, we’re going to do a second book. I’ll continue to throw money at advertising and plan for a slow (very, very, very slow) ROI so that we can build up the entire sub-genre.
About the only other writing thing was me getting off my as and publishing a bunch of the shorts that I wrote/have written through the years. I’m also working on producing shorts every month or so so for the patrons. Eventually, those will be available widely, but it might be a long delay between.
Among the other fun projects was the reddit serials one. Writing that was a ton of fun, and I’ll eventually let everyone know which book was mine. But it great to work in a series and genre that wasn’t my normal. I’ll probably try to slide more books in that series out as I get along.
Financially / Business Wise
This year has been a mixed bag. Fewer releases in the big series means less launch month money. The other releases I have done (for Leveled Up Love, A Jinn’s Wish, the omnibuses, Hive Knight, etc.) have all been muted. That’s okay though, part of my long-term plan has always been to generate more content, with an eye towards the long-game (5/10/20 years) than the short-term gains.
I can afford to do that due to the big series that help pay for everything else. It means that even though I had fewer big launch months, even the ‘low’ months were enough to cover my expenses and then more.
This year between the translations, the publishing contract, advertising for the other series, increased donations and the audiobooks (many of which are in the process of being created now / have been created and paid for but not released); my expenses have gone up while revenue hasn’t. Heck, towards the end of the year, I ended up hiring someone full-time to help with marketing and I’m in the process of training her up.
I’m likely to have earned less overall than I did last year, but that’s fine. I still made enough to live comfortably (personal expenses went down… har!) and sock some money away for retirement. And more importantly, more work was done, all of which will (hopefully) continue to return a regular income into the forseeable future. Some, I expect to breakeven for me in 3-4 years, some might be longer. But in all cases, it adds a few dollars everyday. Which is the point.
For good news, my wide sales continue to push up. I’m slowly making more and more of my income for my other series not on Amazon and Audible. Which means that if something horrible happened, I can still potentially survive (not really right now, but maybe in the future!).
Patreon is the other major source of income growth this year, which has been amazing. And something I have to thank them. Even if I’m not releasing as fast, many of them have stuck around and that makes me so grateful.
And that’s about it. Lots of humble pie in terms of launches (not that I’ve ever gloated about great launches, but eh… you know what I mean) and lots of projects that just won’t return funds for a long time.
But also, lots of fun with side projects outside of the main series’. Which is (fun that is) what keeps me writing.
I really, really can’t wait to see people’s reactions when the System Apocalypse series is done.
I’ll cover 2021 plans in another post.
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