Quarterly Goal Review 2015

Q goal setting

Over the last week I have completed a quarterly review of my writing goals. Just to make sure I’m on track for this year. And so far I seem to be, even though I’ve put some things on hold.

I have previously talked about goal setting and how important it is. So I won’t go over it again, visit this post and this one if you want a refresher.

It is also important to review how well you are meeting those goals to determine what is and isn’t working; whether you are putting in the effort and whether the goals are right for you. If something is on the list but you aren’t getting it done you need to think about why it is on the list to start with.

 

Why am I doing this?

I generally review how much writing I’m doing and how I’m meeting my goals on a week to week basis. Each quarter I like to complete a bigger review, not as detailed as my half yearly one, but the year is slipping away so quickly I wanted an idea of whether I could get done what I wanted to. And lots of things have been pushed down the list to occur later this year. Which is now.

I also like to start planning for next year about this time. I produce a rough idea of what I would like to get done and the projects I want to focus on. If I’m not achieving what I want this year that will impact on next year.

 

What I discovered from the review

I am actually on track to get done what I wanted.

I am still half hoping to get ‘Snow’ out before Christmas. It is much better than it was but still needs some work. As mentioned before I want to make sure it is the best it can be rather than just push it out. Working my hardest to reach the before Christmas deadline.

Iski is outlined and mapped out and ready to draft. I have blocked out the time for that in October, on track for December release. Assuming the edit doesn’t push it out but should be ok.

Raven Crown Series drafting has been put on hold while I finish ‘Snow’ but I’m also planning to get back to this over October. The full trilogy will be drafted by the end of the year, ready to start editing next year. And once I start that process I’ll have a better idea of release dates.

 

Onward plans

My plans for the last quarter of the year will lead into what I’m doing next year. I have simplified by planning and tracking processes to be able to get more writing done and spend more time allocated on writing rather than planning.

I have changed my tracking system a little. Instead of using scrap paper I’m now capturing all my writing time on a spreadsheet. I note the actual time spent writing and the task/project I work on. This allows me to easily see how much time I spend each day writing and what I have worked on.

It has been a very useful process and it only takes a few seconds at the beginning and end of each writing session.

It has also helped me pull together some stats on how long various projects take or stages of those projects. This also helps for planning because with these details I know how much I can produce. And that in turn helps me determine what I can do before the end of the year and what I could hope to produce next year.

Summer Distractions

springI know it is only just spring and here in Tassie we’re still fluctuating between warm and sunny to snowing.

But the days are growing longer, the trees are developing a green tinge and the scent of flowers is carried on the breeze (or gale depending on the day). It’s lovely being able to sit in the sun and feel the warmth of it against your bare skin. Ahh.

But despite the renewing energy Spring seems to bring with it, it is also a distraction.

It was my first quiet weekend in ages. No classes, no commitments and the sun shone. And so it was also time to get into the garden and start trying to tame the wilds that had sprung up overnight. The physical exercise was great and although I have a long way to go it does look better. Yet all of this sunshine and yard work distracted me from my writing. I did spend some time early Saturday morning at my desk but I’m in the final chapters and I’m worried that they aren’t worthy of being the final chapters. So I welcomed the distraction.

Actually I only have three chapters to go. Although I’m not confident in the few leading up to those and I think this current chapter could become part of the pervious. Thus leaving only two to go.

I’m at the climax and I’m not feeling particularly climactic. Or at least the writing isn’t for me. I’m hoping it will find its feet but that does mean more hours working on it rather than thinking about it as I move wood piles and dig out weeds.

It may be that it needs another rest and yet I worry that a rest would do more harm than good at this point. I’m trying to see the end without rushing toward it to keep me going. There have been too many times that I have put this book down and walked away for a bit and I know it is close now so I don’t want to do that.

It isn’t a matter of refocusing because I have been very focused on this story. It is a matter of maintaining that and trying to prevent any doubt from creeping in before I finish it that might prevent a finish.

Between the writing and editing and gardening I am also developing my writing plan for the rest of the year. I’m hoping that will maintain my motivation too. I was a bit soggy over winter and the retreat helped revive me. I’m hoping spring will help keep that going. So a couple of days off to catch up on the garden is ok, as long as I come back to it.

 

Would you pay for promotion?

marketing2

As self-publishing authors we have to do the hard yards ourselves to find people to buy and read our books. As I struggle through editing the last quarter of my novel I am distracted with all the little bits that go with self-publishing.

Mostly I’m thinking about covers and promotion. And the idea scares me. I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m not very confident in public speaking or pushing myself out there. But if I want people to read this book (and those that follow) I’m going to have to step out of my comfort zone.

Thankfully there are people and groups out there willing to help. Some for a fee of course but there are some out there for free.

Along with everything else we try to do for ourselves is paying up to $350 (or more) dollars for others to spread the word worthwhile?

The more people you reach the better right?

What if we don’t sell that many books; what if it only makes $60. And we spent $80 on promotion?

Or should we be thinking about this in the longer term?

The more readers we reach now, that enjoy our work the better. We may not make much but if they enjoy it then they buy the next book and the next book and so on.

Connecting with other artists can be a way forward as well. I had an offer to redesign one of my short story covers for free, and in return it can be used for a portfolio. Maybe a student would offer a cheap rate just to get experience.

Of course you can do it yourself (I did two of mine after all) but if you don’t have the right skills it can take a lot of time and you may not end up with something as good as it could be (my first cover is a great example of that).

In terms of paying for cover design there’s a range from reasonably cheap (like Fiverr) to premade covers around $60 to professional designers on 99 Desgins (ranging from $299 up) or various designer websites costing over $1000.

I can see why it costs, there is a lot of work that goes into a cover and if you want something that stands out it might be that you have to pay for it.

In terms of promotion I’m looking into a couple of sites that offer social media promotion. The prices vary depending on what level of coverage you would like and the size of the groups. I don’t have much of an email list yet, and my social media following is modest; so one or two of these groups could help my book reach far more readers than I could on my own. If a site has a following of 300,000 readers then surely even if only a small proportion of those readers see the email with your book and buy it, it will help.

Again there are lots out there and these are only a few:

  • Books Go Social
  • Independent Author Network
  • Indies Unlimited
  • Shout My Book

Of course amidst all of this wondering and researching, I do still need to finish the book itself. It is coming along reasonably well although I’m pushing a bit with this last part. I mostly rewrote this section after my restructure on the retreat. So quite some work. And of course there is nothing to put a cover on or promote if I don’t finish it. So my focus in edit/revise/edit for the next little bit and then out to readers. Then I might have made a decision about covers and promotion.

Editing Process – or the retreat fall out (and I mean that in a good way)

My read-through notes
My read-through notes

There were a number of things I wanted to talk to you about this week and then as I have been so focused on my edit I thought I should probably fill you in on that. I’ve even struggled to get to the newsletter mailout; sorry for those that have signed up already but it will be out soon.

I mentioned in my last post that I had been working to someone else’s editing system, which was a variation on another writer’s system. In the last week I’ve come up with another all of my own. One which works better for me. And it may have been hinted at by The Writing Buddy on the writing retreat.

The way I was editing was slow and I would probably be still handwriting notes. While on retreat it was suggested that I try putting my edits straight into the document, which I did. Since returning home I have continued with this process and finished the draft last Monday. Although I must say I have rewritten the last chapter twice and still not happy with it.

The next round was the read through. I did this on the computer as well using the comments feature of word to mark up everything that made me pause. And I mean everything. From clunky sentences, dialogue that didn’t sit right, setting, gaps, where I should have mentioned some key point but didn’t, missing costumes, or gestures or not enough of the five senses to immerse the reader.

Everything. I even marked up some pages where I just said “this doesn’t work – fix it” to a note at the beginning of one chapter stating that it “needed more around the second scene because it wasn’t clear what was actually happening.”

I scheduled out a week for the read through but as I have only been working on the edit I have had (or maybe put) more time into it than I thought I had available. Read through completed in three days. And I took my time with it.

Then I forced myself to take a day away from it, to give it a little distance and thinking room. Only one day but it was one of the hardest days of this edit yet. The story and characters were always close and I was keen to get back to it. As hard as it was being away from the book it was worth taking the time.

I am now well under way with making all the changes and edits needed to make this story work. Again I am working straight into the document, although I did save it as another draft in case I lose something important. So far it seems to be working well and I’m on track to finish this edit by the end of the month.

This process is so much easier and quicker than what I was doing before and I’m seeing the effect immediately. Some pages take a bit longer, some are running relatively smoothly but if I need to go back then I can.

Given that this process is also proving to me just how much time I can give my writing (which is more than I have been consistently giving it before now) I don’t think it will take much to make up the extra word count when I get back to drafting. I also think I can still get the first Iski book written and out before Christmas.

Over the last few years of this blog I have been referring to this fantasy novel as “SNOW” and that has been the working title all along, even for those first scribbled pages. But it needs something stronger and I’ve been playing with ideas. Once I’m settled on the title I’ll put something up on the My Books page.