As I look back over the previous year and look ahead to the next, there’s a lot to think about. First, let’s start with 2019.
Followers: In August I mentioned that I had published my 200th post, and that I was close to 200 followers. I hoped to make it to 200 by the end of the year. I’m pleased to say that I have reached and exceeded 200 now. As of today, I have 206 followers. Yippee! Now, this is pretty minuscule by most standards, but hey. I’m pleased as punch I have had 206 people like my content here enough to actually click the “follow” button. Thank you, thank you! Special mention to notjustagranny who stumbled across my blog late in the year and has been avidly reading pretty much every post since, as well as leaving comments along the way. Great to have you aboard!
Most popular day/hour for people to view my posts? Sunday, 2 PM. Perhaps that’s the most popular day/time for people to read blogs in general. Who knows?
June 18th was the day with the most views this year. Not sure exactly why. My book had launched on June 1st so perhaps this was people who had read the book and had gone to check out my blog?
Most popular post: What They Wore: Clothing in the 7th Century. This one actually topped my previous all-time most-viewed post (Review: The Last Kingdom), but that one still came in second. Glad to see a new one come out on top, although, like the review post, this was an old one, from 2018. The post from 2019 that got the most views was Anglo-Saxon Literature: The Husband’s Message.
Favourite post of mine: That’s a hard one. I’ve really enjoyed looking at the various people, customs, and places of 7th century England throughout the year. My new series on the Battles of Anglo-Saxon England has been a fun one. And I loved taking another look at Bede this year, as he remains a favourite for me. But I guess if I had to pick, I would have to say that Star Wars and 7th Century Monks would have to be my fave from the year. I’ve been fascinated by Skellig Michael for a long time, and it was a delight to take a close look at it and learn more about it. It was especially fun to do that in the context of Star Wars. I also really appreciated the thoughtful comments that the post generated. It was great to hear another perspective on the movie. So, a win-win for me!
This year I reduced my frequency of posting from once a week to bi-monthly. This was a very good decision. It gave me the space I needed to focus more on the book/publication. I am going to continue that frequency this year. I will admit that I didn’t always post twice a month. Sometimes I just couldn’t fit it in. I imagine that will be true again this year.
I had the privilege of doing a post on St. Gildas over at the English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog. This was a great experience, and gave me some new readers and some eyes on my book, as they ran an ad for the book on the page the same day as my post. I am hoping to do another post for them again this year.
As you all know, my first novel, Wilding: Book One of the Traveller’s Path, launched on June 1st. Wow, it’s still kinda hard to believe. Here’s a few reflections of the journey as I look back:
- Being an indie author is a LOT of work. I remain amazed at how long it took me to figure out just the mechanics of how to get my book out of my writing program (Scrivener) and into the formats needed to upload to the distribution sites. Basically I had to format it into three files – mobi (for Amazon/Kindle), epub (for Kobo, Apple, and others), and a special PDF template for paperback. You wouldn’t think that would be so hard. Especially since Scrivener basically makes it easy by allowing you to select each of those formats when you go to compile your manuscript and export it out of Scrivener. However…Scrivener went through a major redesign just before I started on the compile. And silly me, I decided to update the software before compiling. In the past, when there have been updates, things haven’t changed “that” much. This time, they did. Specifically they completely overhauled how to do the compile. Yikes. It has honestly taken me hours to “forget” how I did it before and relearn the new method.
I have just finished compiling Book 2 so I can send it out to the beta readers. Ugh. Back at square one again. Supposedly you can save all your compile settings and use it again in another project, so you only have to go through the set-up once, but I decided to change something (add chapter titles, instead of numbers) and…hoo boy, back to confusion. I still LOVE Scrivener but honestly I wanted to tear my hair out at times.
2. Being an indie author is a lot of work (pt 2). Once I had the file formatted properly, I then could upload it to the various platforms. Amazon for Kindle, and Ingram Spark for everywhere else. Easy, right? Nope. To be fair, Amazon was just that easy. Click and off it went. But Ingram Spark….oh my. Hours and hours spent trying to figure how to fix the error that popped up. I mean, what would you do if you got an error message saying,
“PDF CONTAINS ICC COLOR PROFILES: We request files with no color profiles assigned. Please convert all colors to grayscale for black and white images, or CMYK for color images and remove all color profiles. Saving a new PDF with the default setting of PDF/X-1a:2001 will address the issue. For best results, please correct the issue(s) listed. You may refer to the File Creation Guide for further instructions on creating a compliant PDF.”
Well, what I did was have a good cry. This particular issue also took days to figure out. In the end, in case anyone else reading this is running into the same problem, to “fix” it I ended up sending the file to my son who has Adobe Photoshop, and he was able to tweak the file using that program and send it back to me. I still have NO idea how a person who doesn’t have that program (which is really expensive) can get around this. Sigh.
3. I have a great family, and great friends. So many of them read the MS more than once, and offered valuable suggestions on how to make it better. I got tons of encouragement and support all along the way. And I had a great book launch party, with some friends even coming from two hours away to attend! So much fun!
3. Marketing and promotion is hard. Especially with just one book. I purchased a course on marketing for indie authors, got an author newsletter started, got a professionally designed book cover, had professional edits done of the book, had a professionally designed ad done and utilized it a couple times….all of which cost a significant amount of money, for me at least. And yes, I’ve sold a few books. But certainly not enough to recoup any significant costs. But, onward and upward. I’m hoping that with Book 2 I will gain a little traction. We’ll see. I’m not expecting a bestseller (although that would be nice!) but it would be nice to get a little money back to make up for what I’ve spent. Of course, I’m not about to launch into all those costs for Book 2….round and round we go. Suffice to say, I’m doing this more for the love of doing it, not for any monetary gain, at the moment.
As I look into 2020, I have a few goals in mind:
- New Website – I am working on this right now. I have had to put it on the back burner while I finished the Book 2 edits, but now that the MS is off to the betas and my editor, I can get going on this again. I hope to have this ready to launch by March, if not before. I’m looking forward to showing off the new design!
2. Book 2 Launch – I am planning on releasing Bound: Book 2 of the Traveller’s Path, on June 1st, 2020. I hope to do a better job of getting pre-launch excitement going for this book. Maybe offer pre-orders. We’ll see….
3. Blog changes – this blog will become one page of the new website. I’m not exactly sure how that will change things. I will continue to post twice a month as I am able, at least, that’s the plan right now. I hope to do a couple of interviews and maybe even a book review or two.
That’s it for now. I’m looking forward to the New Year and the challenges it brings. I hope you are too!
Thank you again for your faithful support of my writing. If you have left a comment, read a blog post, or (especially) if you have purchased a book, I am so very grateful.