Happy April and Happy Birthday to me. Today’s my birthday and I am celebrating at a very intimate and exclusive restaurant, my house.
There is no need to rehash or complain about what we are all enduring. Here’s my only comment or prayer, we are all victorious survivors and can endure more than we can imagine.
I’m going to keep it short this month.
I just finished my first quarter as a planner girl. It has been an amazing experience. I’m a lot more focused and I’m amazed at how much I got accomplished. There are some tools I really like and some that I didn’t. At least right now. I might revisit the ones that didn’t fit later. I will only be discussing the planning tools I’m using for my author business.
Tool: Kanban Board
I’m not going to say I love this just yet, but I really like it. It helped a lot to see my tasks in front of me daily. It also forced me not to bite off more than I could chew. When I put this in place, I was going to write a different book. About two weeks into the first 30 days, the book I scheduled just wasn’t. I switched books and the words flowed like a faucet. In fact, the book went from novella to novel length.
There were a few things that were moved because it involved the book I was no longer working on. My math might be a little off but here are the results. I started the year with 3 goals and 59 tasks. I complete the goals. I realize those are going to take a little longer than expected. The goals had 59 tasks. I completed 32 tasks, 15 didn’t get done and 7 were carried over.
As of this posting, I’m working on next quarter’s Kanban board.
I have been meaning to try Fussy Librarian and just hadn’t gotten around to it. However, I received an email offering me a chance to try them for free with a free book. I did and ad day produced great results. My book got to #4 in a couple of categories and in the top 100 with another one. The tails on the ad lasted about a week. I will definitely be trying them again.
I have an official ad budget and I’ll let you know how it’s working at the end of the quarter. I think I need 90 days to really assess the results. I am currently in the first stage, testing facebook ads. This is an area I really want to crack. I have spent too much time and money on courses for them not to work.
Tool: Planner Inserts
I have been testing a mixture of planner inserts searching for the ones that are right for me. I think I have a system I like. I’m not the planner who likes a lot of stickers. Although I did see some last week that I really like. I do use colored transparency tabs and some dots.
I created an engagement log sheet which I use weekly to chart my sales, word count and social media followers. This has helped me. When I write things down, it helps me visualize and push myself. Or know when to take a break.
Tool: Author Planner
My author planner is really a business bible. It contains a calendar, production schedule, newsletter and ad schedule, expense and sales log, print book inventory and event schedule. This is very handy. I use it in conjunction with my 90 Day Plan notebook. Any story ideas are kept in a separate notebook by my bed.
Tool: Instagram…Social Media
I did an online course on building your Instagram audience for my lingerie business and tried it with my author business. It works well for the lingerie, but not as well for my author business. I’m thinking about trying Planoly to schedule my author posts. When I post on Instagram, I make sure to click the other social media options. This helps me stay engaged and post regularly. Interesting thing, when I post a shirtless man, I get great engagement. Go figure.
WIP…as of this post, I am approximately 4500 words away from completing my book. I know last month I said I was about 7000 words away from completing my book. That was true. However, the story took a turn and I added a few more thousand words. I really thought I would have finished it sooner. But the delay has worked to my advantage. I’m not sure how a release would have done right now.
I’m not sure what I’ll talk about next month. Let’s play it by ear.
Happy April. Stay safe.
Happy March. Get ready for it… because yes, I am going to say something very familiar…”I can’t believe this is the beginning of the end of the first quarter of a new decade”. That was a mouthful?
Let’s get started.
How did I do last month? Come si, come sa. The second month of planning hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked. At the same time it wasn’t as bad as I thought either. I got sick and that sort of effected my schedule. I have a simple but strict morning routine. I wake up at 6:30, slap the snooze button two or three times, thank God for another day, have quiet time or devotional, tend to a little personal business, grab a pre-workout snack, and go to the gym for an hour or more depending on how I feel. Then I come home eat some protein and get to work.
Unfortunately, sometimes I get a little distracted after eating and before heading to work. Heading to work, is me going down the hall to my office and putting my butt in the chair for a few hours. I researched successful people and their routines getting ideas for myself. What I came up with was six hours a day to operate both of my businesses. However, I seem to always end up working longer.
The first quarter of the year is always a little busy for me because I’m doing buying for my lingerie store. This is something that happens twice a year. There are other mini buys throughout the year, but twice a year I go on buying trips for a few days. These require me to be removed from writing, If you’re not familiar with buying season, it’s like going to RWA or RAM twice a year with more food, wine, less sleep and lots of walking.
When my mother and I return from a buying trip we need to decompress and enter the next phase, catalog review and placing orders. For clarification, this is like writing and publishing a dozen books in two weeks. Since I’ve been a published writer only once did I release a book during this time. I made a note to never do that again. This is where the planning part comes into play.
I was headed to Paris for a buying trip and thought since I had done everything for the book, it would be a piece of cake to complete the end of the blog tour while I was gone. I figured the time difference would work to my advantage. This was a major case of poor planning. The first couple of days were spent fighting jet lag and show fatigue followed by me trying to finish up posts for the blog tour. Needless to say, the launch didn’t do as well as I expected. My saving grace was a the BookBub ad I had during that period which got me a lot of sales.
I said all of that to say February was a real planning test and I didn’t score an A, but I didn’t fail either. So here a few highlights.
Plan: I didn’t finish my book.
Reality: I was going for a small novella, but it’s more like a small novel. I’m currently at 39,000+ words, plus I have a twist I really like. I’m about 7,000 words from the end. I’m trying not to do a cliffhanger, but it looks like that may not happen. I promised my readers I wouldn’t do a cliffy, but if I did, I wouldn’t let too much time pass between books. Upside, I have a cover.
Plan: I haven’t booked any newsletter ads.
Reality: I thought I’d turned off my Facebook ad for A Southern Gentleman Two, but it was still running. This mistake got me sales. And a chain of strange dialog about the ad. I really need to post about it. In a nutshell, the way the ad was written has made over a hundred people believe it’s a post about a real couple.
I did make an ad schedule for the rest of the year which I which goes into effect tomorro. I also have an ad budget. I’ll update you later on how that’s going.
Plan: I haven’t posted to my reader group as regularly as I want to.
Reality: I’m working this. Upside, I did a mini course on using Instagram and have seen a major boost in engagement and a few new followers. I also noticed a few sales related to some of my posts.
Upside, because of my new Instagram posting schedule, I’m posting to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr almost daily. Next on my list is Pinterest.
Plan: New covers for my Alex Chronicles Series.
Reality: I have created three sets of covers and still haven’t found the ones I like. However, I have until the end of the month to make a decision.
Plan: Update my newsletter
Reality: This was on my list for March, but I did it in February. I visited Lauren Layne’s website and saw her newsletter. I fell in love with it, so I developed my version. I like it and hope my readers do as well. Another change I made which ties in with my newsletter is my logo. I was motivated to make a change after seeing my friend Saharra K Sandhu’s new logo. I now have a logo I like.
Summary: I’ve done 24 things, but I still have thirty five things left for this quarter. I know it sounds like a lot. However, I know some of those won’t be done because they relate to a book I pushed to later in the year. And a few are admin related [i.e., setting up ads, switching my lead magnet, updating my website, reviewing my schedule, etc.]. Those are things I need to sit down and take a couple of hours and clear off my planner.
To summarize February…it’s better than last year. I see a plan for the rest of the year I can implement. I also know, I’ll be way ahead of the game next year.
Next month, I’ll summarize my first quarter and tell you which planning tools have worked so far.
Have a great month and happy spring.
Happy February. It’s hard to believe we are 36 days into a new decade. Let’s get started.
Last month I invited you to follow me on my planning journey. One month down and I am in love with planning. Full disclosure, I have not settled on a system, yet. Once I do, I’ll share it with you.
In the past, at this time of the year, I would still be looking for a calendar I liked. I am a huge Kate Spade fan and have been using KS planners for a few years. It’s not to say they aren’t good because they are.
What have I learned from my first month of organized planning? I learned to focus and not beat myself up when I don’t get everything done on my daily to do list.
I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube channels on planning and it’s fascinating. I’m so excited to find channels on writing and planning. I watched another Sarra Cannon video about “Kanban Boards.” I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. In fact, I thought she was saying something else. But when I watched the video, I knew it was exactly what I needed to help me organize my writing life.
A Kanban Board forces you to focus on a few goals and all the tasks required to complete them. To be specific, here’s the Wikipedia definition: A Kanban board is one of the tools that can be used to implement Kanban to manage work at a personal or organizational level.
The way Sarra set hers up was on a board into three months. I like the idea of focusing on three goals. Here are my three: 1] Publish and promote both new and backlist titles to increase average income; 2] Increase fan engagement across social media, blog, BookBub, Amazon and newsletter 10%, 15%, 30% and 3] Complete Unexpected Love #2 and start a KDP Select book. [For privacy reasons, I didn’t disclose the financial aspects of the first goal.]
The goals and their tasks are broken down by 30, 60 and 90 days. My head went into a tailspin and I immediately understood why Sarra suggested limiting the goals to three or maybe two. I chose three. If you’re inclined, you can also add a personal goal. Each month has a different color to help keep things in order. If you’re interested, check out her video [https://heartbreathings.com/how-to-achieve-your-goals-when-youre-busy/].
How did I do the first 30 days? I missed the mark on a few things. Seeing all of the tasks on a board made me face my new work reality. I sort of mixed up my stickie notes…something I’ll correct in the next quarter. This first thirty days, I planned to rebrand a series. I made a set of covers late last year, but when I went back to them, I started having second thoughts and made another set. I’m not satisfied with the new set and will start on another set this month. This indecisiveness, has caused all the tasks attached to that series, to be pushed back. A few of the other tasks for January which I’m carrying over include some minor admin things.
This new plan allowed me to write again. I hadn’t written much the last quarter. I signed up for NANO, but didn’t complete the book. I would like to blame it on the business of life, but after NANO finished, I realized it wasn’t time to complete that book. If I’d stayed with it, it would have meant I wouldn’t get a book out until summer and I felt that was too long of a gap between releases. My last release was in October.
Instead, on January 13th, I know this because I wrote it in my planner, I went back to working on The Good Girl Trois [I had written 2653 words and put it aside]. I made it a point to be consistent. I set a daily goal of 1000 words per day. That first week was hard. There were a few days where I barely wrote 500+ words. And days when I did 2000+. As of today, I made my goal for January, 15,000. My new goal is to complete this book by the end of February. I’m not pressuring myself, but if I stay on track, I’ll make it.
My social media has been up and down, but that’s my fault. I have a plan, which I need to implement.
This year, I really want to put all of the things I’ve learned from courses and conferences into play and develop a marketing plan that’s right for me. This could mean limiting conference attendance and author signings. My goal this year is to publish four books and build up my readership. I hear you saying, “Author events will help with readership.” That is true, but I really want to advance and or complete two of my series.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far, is planning is no joke. I also see why, planner girls start working on their plans in October. I don’t like playing catch up, but I am a lot further along this year than I have been in the past. I’m excited to see how I do this month.
See you next month.
Before I get into my post, I have to apologize for not posting last month. I completely forgot. I took a much-needed break and my mind was elsewhere. I think it must have been the 111 degree temperature I was sitting in. Here’s the funny part, I took my iPad and laptop on holiday with the intention of writing. I figured, with the few days away from everything, I’d write a novella. That never happened. I take that back. I did write a couple of pages, but can’t find them. No biggie. I had started this book a while back, but couldn’t find it. When I returned home, I dug deep into my hard drive and found the original pages. I was able to recall some of what I’d written on holiday and included it in the new book.
Now to this month’s post.
I mentioned in my last post that I was working on my upcoming release, A Southern Gentleman Vol 2. I was going to hire a publicist to help with the release, but changed my mind. I’m not saying I’ll never use a publicist, but right now isn’t the time. I paid a lot of money on a course to teach me to market my books and I need to make sure I’ve given it a fair chance to work. I tried the techniques twice. Once with some success and the second with very little success. I need to make sure I can do this before I can tell someone what I want them to do.
So, what’s my plan. PRAY. Smile. Okay, I need to do a little more. I’ve learned a lot about marketing since I released my first book five years ago. My very first release, consisted of me accidentally pushing the Publish Button and hoping. I didn’t know about Facebook or newsletter ads. I did book a blog tour, which earned me a few reviews, but few sales. I decided to go wide, so I burned or used a lot of ISBNs because I thought you needed one for every platform. I sold quite a few print copies to family and friends. Unfortunately, those are one-time sales, which I’m grateful. However, I need and want fans, avid readers and followers of my stories.
I have a plan. Now I sound like a politician. SMILE.
I am going to take what I learned in the course, plus what I’ve learned from the various Facebook groups, blog posts and authors I’ve met and formulate a strategy. Will it be my road map from here on out? Maybe, maybe not. Every book is different and what works for one book, may not work for another. Now I should a little confused. Let me clarify. I’m building a basic plan which I will tweak with each release as needed.
Here we go. I’ve given myself approximately 30 days in the Pre-Order period. During this time, I’ll send the book out to my ARC Readers and people in my various groups to read and post reviews on release day. Next, Take Overs. I’ve been doing a few of these for other authors with pretty good results. So now it’s my turn. ADS. I’ve made a list of sites and a posting schedule. Not only do I need ads for release day, I need them for afterwards as well. I’m considering doing ads prior to the release day for A Southern Gentleman Vol 1 in order to draw attention the duet with new readers.
Where it gets a little tricky is Facebook. FB ads can be tricky, so I’m going to start testing graphics a couple of weeks prior to release. I know I’m going to do BookBub Ads, I would love to do a feature ad, but I think I waited too late to apply for one. I am going to try for a paid new release ad, but it might be a little late for that one as well.
All of that will be moot if I don’t do one thing…select a cover. I hear you cringing now, but let me explain. I had a cover, then I went into rebranding mode and it didn’t work. I have two covers and have done a soft test. Before I commit to a cover, I need to do a little more testing. So far, the one I like is winning. However, I don’t need the cover to do pre-marketing, although it would help, a lot. Right now, I’m as busy as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. [That statement reminds me of one of the characters in A Southern Gentleman Vol 2]. But it’s the truth. There’s quite a bit to do prior to release. Grant it, I could do nothing or the minimum and see what happens, but I want to make this my best release to date.
So here’s the plan:
I almost forgot. I have a new release date, October 8th, which means I have a few days before the plan goes into play.
I’ll update you next month.
Happy end of summer. Tracy.
OMG! I almost forgot I needed to post. I was watching the Hallmark Channel and recouping from Fourth of July eating.
Before I start with this month’s topic, I want to share something with you that will be revealed in the next few days. If you’re in my facebook group, Tracy’s Reeders, then you’ve seen the revised cover for A Southern Gentleman Vol One. I love it and the test results were very favorable. I’m excited to see how it performs.
The new cover is bold, sexy and tells a different story. I was about to upload the cover and decided to change the blurb. The original blurb just didn’t work. This entire rebranding process is sort of like that stray thread you try to pull, but it unravels and causes more anxiety. I’m patient because I know this is all going to work out.
I pushed the release date back a month because I want to hire a publicist to help with the launch. She needs three weeks of prep and I just finished cleaning up the final draft.
So here’s the cover:
Earlier this year, Skye Warren posted the Romance Author Roadmap on RWA earlier this year. When I finished reading it, I had a plan for the year. In creating the plan, I discovered, I had left a lot of money on the table in the form of boxsets.
I have one boxset, which is compilation of novellas centering around romance at different stages. It never occurred to me to create boxsets within my series. I started doing a little research and found quite a few authors had created boxsets out of some of their series. By that I mean, combining the first two or three books in a series.
When I finished, going through my books, I came up with four boxsets.
Falling For Her Boss: The Good Girl Part One and Part Two
Loving Her: What MY Friends Need To Know and Love Notes
Real Love : Generational Curse and Intentional Curse
Secret Love: Girlfriends & Secrets and What My Friends Don’t Know
I think this new packaging will appeal to readers not connecting with the original titles. I’m very curious and excited to see how this works. I’m still working on the pricing. I have to be careful not to overcharge and work within the pricing allowed by Amazon.
I’m also not sure if I should release the boxsets all at once or one at a time. I do know initially they will only be in ebook format with print only available on my site, eventually.
Time will tell how these are received.
See you next month.
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