Three years ago today, my debut novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, released into the world.
Two years ago today, I finished writing my second novel, Speak Your Mind.
Last year on this day, I took the day off from work and stayed home, watching home movies (and crying) because I turned the big 25 and hate getting older.
Today is Day One of my fourth year as a published author, and I’m super pumped to share with y’all the top 3 lessons I’ve learned in the past year of indie publishing.
If you haven’t already, check out what I learned in years 1 and 2 below:
Lesson 1: Planning is Key
Prior to 2019, I ran my personal life, author career, and Authoring Arrowheads without a planner. And let me tell you, that was like playing with fire.
As someone prone to anxiety with perfectionist tendencies, going about daily life, writing, and blogging by the seat of my pants didn’t fly too well. Back in 2018, I kept a decent blogging schedule going, but I panicked many a time about falling behind. My writing productivity on The Crush also suffered, as I prioritized other activities over finishing it.
In January 2019, I finally started using a planner with weekly and monthly spreads, and the game changed for the better. By having a physical calendar layout to write plans down, I rarely had to worry about remembering what to write, when to write it, or when to post it.
I was able to set up monthly word count goals (more of which I’ll talk about in a second), and keep track of my writing productivity for the first time ever.
And, most importantly, it helped me learn to keep my crap straight and learn how to plan ahead by completing baby steps along the way.
My Tip for Other Authors
If you’d like to try keeping a planner, I recommend starting out with an inexpensive one that’s cute, or a simple bullet journal that you can creatively transform into your dream planner.
For 2019, I used a Blue Sky planner from Walmart that suited my needs well. For 2020, I decided to try a different planner I found on Amazon that included a few bonus features like stickers, a bookmark, and sticky notes. Inspired by Sarra Cannon on Heart Breathings, I decided to pretty up my planners by doodling in the white space, or, this year, adding stickers. I especially recommend stickers by Zicoto on Amazon. (Note: I am not an affiliate, I just love the product).
Lesson 2: Attainable Word Count Goals Lead to Increased Productivity
Before 2019, I never set word count goals. If I set any kind of writing goal at all, it’d be “I’ll finish this book by [insert date here]”, and I only met my goal once that way.
During my third year as an author, I told myself to stop wasting time and finally finish The Crush, which I started writing in August 2011… *facepalm*.
In order to accomplish this task, I figured out how to set realistic word count goals each month. With 30-something thousand words under by belt on the rewrite prior to January 2019, I spent January through June smashing those goals and finishing the novel by adding 53,900 words.
From July through now, I’ve done the same with The Fall. My total word count for 2019 was 106,962 words, my most to date.
Though I’m not sure I can dedicate as much time to writing this year with plans to release The Crush and other plans coming along, I hope to try and finish book three, The Dream, by year end with this technique.
Lesson 3: If You Want It, Don’t Hesitate
This lesson can apply to hundreds of different situations, but for my third year as an author, it meant biting the bullet and buying the domain and Premium WordPress plan for Authoring Arrowheads.
Each month last year I kept receiving plan sale emails from WordPress and thought, “I should do that”, but continually overthought about it until October. I don’t remember what suddenly inspired my change of heart, but leading up to it the fact my website’s name had “wordpress.com” in the URL made me feel like an amateur in comparison to the level of other authors I aspire to be like. So, I calculated up how much it would cost (surprisingly less than I thought), and bought it.
And no, I have not had one regret about the decision so far.
In some of her YouTube videos on book marketing, Bethany Atazadeh says we should make marketing decisions with the ROI (return on investment) in mind. By purchasing the domain, I’ve taken a large step in moving on to the level of author I aspire to be by adding legitimacy to my site.
I now look at purchasing decisions with this mindset: will buying this guarantee benefits for my author career?
4th Year Goals
Four has always been my favorite number, so I have high hopes for year four.
My main goal right now is to cultivate as much knowledge and skill as I can about indie publishing to grow my career. To do so, I’ve invested in taking Sarra Cannon’s Publish and Thrive course. The session is running now, and I plan to utilize what I learn throughout the course of the year.
I’m also in the process of expanding my books’ distribution, which leads me to…
As some of you know, my books have been enrolled in Kindle Unlimited since I first published Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl. Over the past year, I haven’t seen much success with having my books listed solely in the Kindle store, so as of today, my books are now available on the following ebook platforms, in addition to the Kindle store:
- Apple Books
- Barnes & Noble
- Angus & Robertson
Click below to find my books at these retailers:
And, as usual, my paperbacks and Kindle books will always be available via Amazon. 🙂
My Kindle books are also now available worldwide! Be sure to check those out if you’re outside the United States!
And now, the portion of this post that I’ve been dying to tell y’all…
I FINISHED WRITING THE FALL TODAY!!!
Yes! As I mentioned earlier, last year’s birthday wasn’t as productive as when I turned 23 or 24, so today I made sure to make it another birthday to remember! I finished The Fall at 10:07 a.m. today (adding a little more at 2:00 p.m.), the finished draft ranking in at 65,088 words. This book has been my fastest completed project, taking only 7 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days to write.
I’m aware that this draft may be total Haut Gar Bage when I go back and edit it, but I’m still super excited to have written the book in under a year!! 😀
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
If you’re an author, what have you learned in your years of being published? If you’re not an author, what have you learned in your years of wisdom? Share your experiences in the comments!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.