11th Anniversary - Winds of Change
Since my 10th anniversary as a self-published author last September (2021), I seem to have become even more reflective about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, checking in with myself more often, reassessing the situation, and readjusting course wherever needed.
During this summer, I've continued to write, but I put aside other activities for a while - such as writing my newsletter, promoting, and so on. And taking that break, stepping off my usual hamster wheel of activity, has helped me get clearer.
Changes are afoot!
I've made several new decisions and begun to lay the foundations to go in new directions as I approach my 11th anniversary on 19th September and move beyond.
Essentially, I'm stepping back from certain things in order to make time for some exciting new projects - ones that I believe my readers (and book lovers in general) will enjoy and benefit from.
So read on to get the nitty-gritty...
Hmm... Perhaps I'd better start with some of the smaller changes - y'know, to break you in gently...
I've switched to a new gold font for the covers of my Dark Heart Forest Fairy Tales Series. The bottom of the covers is also a wee bit different - all the better to include the series name. The cover for Cupid's Revenge (the bonus sequel story mentioned at the back of One Rotten Apple) has also been revamped.
I've raised book prices
For a very long time now - too long! - I've kept my ebooks at crazy-low prices and have been threatening to raise them. Well, now I've made a start.
No Bed of Roses now US$2.99
One Rotten Apple now US$3.99
Fool's Gold now US$4.99
By the way, for the time being, my other books are all US$2.99. I'll get round to re-pricing things presently, so if you're keen to get them at the lower price, better get your skates on.
Now we move on to some of the bigger changes...
No group promos for the foreseeable future
In a nutshell...
Group promos aren't working bigtime for me right now.
No promos = more time to develop other creative ideas with book lovers in mind (exciting stuff - more on that later!)
I want to connect better with my readers and keep the ones who are, first and foremost, interested in my work - not there purely for promos & freebies.
This year, I've been particularly focussed on joining promotions alongside other authors in my two main genres, fantasy and mystery - this with a view to promoting my titles, building up my readership and sales, as well as giving my own VIP Readers Group exposure to the work of other authors whose books they might enjoy (I do this via my monthly newsletter).
Yes, I've sold a few books, but frankly, it's not been worth the time I've spent doing my due diligence and sharing the promotions around. Taking part in promos also locks me into having to get a certain amount of clicks in order to keep up my reputation score, and for where I'm at right now, that puts me under pressure to share like billy-o on social media as well - all time that could be better spent focussing on other pursuits instead.
So I may share the odd promo for a fellow author as a goodwill gesture, but for the foreseeable future, they'll mostly be missing from my newsletters.
I'll be spending less time writing
Now, don't panic! I LOVE writing books, so I definitely won't be stopping that - just easing back on the time I allot to working on them in favour of spending time on those creative pursuits I keep hinting at. (Don't worry, I will come to that in a mo - are you excited?)
Want the lowdown? Here it is...
I know I've said it before, but writing & marketing books isn't an easy gig, and it certainly isn't the road to riches for most authors (I really must get round to writing a blog about such myths sometime).
Sometime ago, I read a post in an author Facebook group that struck home. Group members were reporting that they regularly worked 50+ hours a week - some as many as 90! (Yikes! When do they sleep?)
Now, maybe they enjoy that lifestyle, maybe they don't. But for the most part, it seems that, in order to do well and/or earn a living as an author, you generally need to write to market, publish frequently, and market like a demon. And I've come to realise that that just ain't me.
Now, don't get me wrong, I work hard - more than I probably 'should', given my goal to gain more of a balance - but I've been down the Working Silly-Hours road, stressing my eyeballs out in the past, and it isn't the life for me anymore. I want a pace of life that's more... well, sane.
In any case, I also plan to write shorter books into the future. My current work-in-progress (Wolf at the Door) is around 140k words long, and it's taken me 'forever' to finish it (launching before year's end, all being well). Writing shorter means I'll have less text to rework in one hit, plus it'll mean the gap between releases isn't as wide.
Rest assured, if you're a fan of my current Dark Heart Forest Fairy Tales series, I have a bunch of other books outlined - some already part-drafted - so I definitely have a plan going forward and am as keen as mustard to continue.
I'm diversifying & developing creative ideas
To be honest, after 11 years at the self-publishing gig, I'm keen to try something new (and just to emphasise in case you missed it above: no, I'm not giving up writing - just cutting back my hours!).
Essentially, I want to give myself a better chance at earning money from my creativity and futureproof my current income by diversifying into other areas (you know, the whole 'multiple streams of income' thing).
So over the summer, I decided to explore a few options. (Yep, I'm getting to those in a tick.)
I'm launching my own store - YAY!
Setting up my own store is an idea I've had in mind for a while. I've wanted my own outlet for what I produce as well as a better way of rewarding members of my VIP Readers Group. In any case, over the past few months, I've finally pulled my finger out and gone ahead with it.
To begin with, I'm building a very basic 'minimum viable store' on Payhip with just my ebooks in it, but there'll be more products to come for BOOK LOVERS (see below!).
It's just a bare-bones shell of a site to look at right now, but plenty of work is going on behind the scenes, and as soon as it launches, I'll be posting about that in my newsletter primarily, then on my website.
How will my store benefit YOU?
Well, if you subscribe to my newsletter, that makes you a member of my VIP Readers Group, and as such, this gives you access to a few perks. Such as...
Early exclusive launch of books on my store.
So if you're a fan of my work, you'll get to...
Download my books a whole month earlier
than the rest of the world!
On my store, I'll also be offering discounts - for example, if you buy other books in the same series at the same time.
All in all, I'm looking to incentivise my readers to buy direct and rewarding them for their support in doing so.
What else is afoot?
Over time, my plan is to roll out other products on my store - or should I say 'merch'?
Now, this is where it gets interesting...
I'm keenly aware that I don't pump out books at the break-neck speed of some self-publishing authors out there. Which kind of puts me in a quandary - or it normally would. I'd like my monthly newsletter to offer something to my readers apart from just me yapping on about my latest book (y'know, which might not even be out for months!).
So now that I've stepped back from sharing group promos, I have something to fill the gap - something which I believe is a wee bit different from what most authors are offering at the moment.
Being able to offer 'merch' to my readers via my store will be a win-win.
So, what kinds of products are we talking?
Well, since my other main area of creative interest at the moment is graphic art & design, I'd like to offer things like...
Desktop/mobile phone wallpapers
Colouring pages, etc.
That's on the digital download front - which seems the easiest thing for me to start with (although, don't be fooled - easiest doesn't mean easy! I've had quite the learning curve already).
Anyway, once I've got the ball rolling, I can think about adding physical products to my repertoire, such as..
In any case, regardless of what the product is, the aim is that all my 'merch' will have one thing in common...
Everything will be designed for
* BOOK LOVERS! *
So even if you're not planning to buy any of my books anytime soon, I hope you'll stick around to check out some of my designs. There's bound to be something you'll love somewhere along the line.
I have lots of design ideas in the pipeline!
For a while, I'll be experimenting to see what works, and I'll be learning the ropes regarding e-commerce, but I'm excited to see where this avenue takes me.
Anyway, please wish me luck with my new store - launching soon!
Rest assured, I'll be announcing when it's live (ie once the scaffolding's been taken down!) as well as telling you about my new designs in my newsletter as I roll things out. So if you're keen to stay in the know, click here to sign up to get The Inside Scoop if you're not already a member of my VIP Readers Group. My newsletters normally come out every month and are guaranteed pester-free. I hate spam myself, so I am mindful not to dish it!
All the best.