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How to Do a Year in Review by Kitty Bucholtz

November 9, 2023 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , ,

One thing we hear a lot of this time of year when we talk about annual planning is that we need to do a “year in review.” We’re told to make note of what worked this past year, what was more difficult than expected, and to decide what we’ll continue in the next year and what we’ll stop.

But what’s the best way to look at it?

If I sit here and think for a few seconds, I would say this past year has been tremendously difficult. (Just shy of “It sucked!”)

If I think about it for a minute, I remember than I got to travel three times this year – three times more than I have since the Covid pandemic began. That’s a win! But the rest of my life still sucked.

But if I get something to write with (pen and paper, computer file, phone note) and close my eyes and try to go through my whole year, looking at my calendar as well, I see something entirely different.

The root of my financial troubles was me not leaving any savings for slow months, but putting every dollar I earned against my credit card balance. Cash flow trouble. Something I can avoid in the future now that I understand it from first-hand experience. (It seemed like such a good idea to pay down my credit card as fast as possible…unless you get to a month where you don’t have enough for even the minimum payment. Oops.) While the short-term results were painful, the lesson learned for the future was invaluable.

My health was another big stressor this year. While I knew that I was learning how to heal from burnout the last few years, I hadn’t fully realized the impact of peri menopause in addition. I started out the year practically homicidal. But I was put on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) in mid-February and my symptoms quickly evened out. I wasn’t 100% back to myself, but at 80-95% (depending on the day), it was a huge relief!

Unfortunately, that 5-20% still bothered me with brain fog and fatigue, feeling like I couldn’t keep two thoughts in my head half the time. That doubled the amount of time it took me to do client work and my own work, which made me feel like I was getting further and further behind every month. Then after my half marathon, I caught a terrible respiratory infection that knocked me out for a couple weeks. A few weeks later, I caught Covid for the first time.

While between them it felt like I lost a good two months in trying to get healthy again, that time also made me think about how I’m living my life without much white space right now. That’s not what I want. I’ve had a half-finished puzzle on the table for a couple months because I keep telling myself I don’t have time to play right now. What’s that about? That’s something I want to actively plan to change next year.

These are only a few of things I came up with when I spent more than one minute thinking about the year. Turns out, there were a lot of good things in my business and personal life in 2023. In addition, of course, to a lot of lessons learned, and a lot of unfortunate things I couldn’t do much about. But once I could see these things written out, I could start seeing a much clearer picture of what the year truly was like.

That allowed me to start a list of what I wanted to change (quite a few things) in 2024, what I wanted to do more of, and a few things I needed to cut way back on. When I start my annual planning for the new year, I’m going to take this new, more complete, list and look at if from the standpoint of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). I’ll also compare my bigger life goals against the year – am I living my life with purpose and loving everyone as much as I can?

So how about your year in review? Can you take longer than a few minutes and really think it all through, write it down and take a solid look at it? I think you’ll find some really helpful information to make next year better.

And I bet you see a bunch of things to remind you that this past year was even better than what you remember!

I hope you take the time. It’s worth it.

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Self Publishing Show Live Recap by Kitty Bucholtz

July 9, 2023 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,
Self Publishing Show Live 2023 with Mark Dawson and James Blatch

I was thrilled to attend Mark Dawson’s SPS Live last month in London! It was exactly the shot in the arm I needed to bring back my thrill for my career! I thought you might want to know what happened there because you can still buy the digital ticket and watch the recordings of all the presentations. You’ll be glad you did. Soooo many people — onstage and off — made a point of encouraging everyone else, urging us all to watch our mindset in order to help us reach new levels of success.

First up was Bella Andre talking about translations. She was generous and clear about exactly how it’s been working for her. If you have a long series, this is something you need to look into.

Damon Courtney from BookFunnel gave a great presentation about how to build a book funnel to find your perfect readers and grow your list. Of course, if you use BookFunnel, he gave some advice about group promos and author swaps.

Next was an interesting panel on writing regional crime novels. Whether you write in this genre or not, there was a lot to learn from these incredibly successful authors. One tip — focus on character and setting over the crime and the procedural portion. That’s what brings readers back for more.

Then Fictionary (writing software) gave a story structure presentation. Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur shared tips on improving your Amazon sales page. Craig Martelle and Kate Pickford gave inspiring talks on perfectionism and getting in your own way. And we finished the first day with a panel discussing AI.

I was so fired up after the first day, my brain was bouncing off the walls of my skull! Hahaha!!

Marc Reklau began Day Two with a talk that was both inspiring and practical. Then Mark Dawson and Orna Ross of Alliance of Independent Authors shared the results of a survey about independent authors including income, sales, and trends. (I linked to the downloadable results. ^^)

TikTok shared an exciting presentation about TikTok Shop that was only disappointing at the end if you did not reside in the U.K., the U.S., or a few countries in Southeast Asia. (It’s not available outside these countries yet, and the TikTok app won’t show you the options outside these countries.)

Britt Andrews from ProWritingAid (writing software) gave a great presentation on building a fandom. Then the Kindle Storyteller Award winners took the stage for a group interview. And finishing out the conference, Mark Dawson and Emma Boyle (Written Word Media, the company that owns Freebooksy, Bargainbooksy, etc.) gave tips on elevating ebook promo success. (Mark’s Hello Books has joined up with Written Word Media for ebook promos.)

And there it is — a very brief recap and a reminder that you can still buy the digital ticket for $99. When the videos are ready in August, Mark and team are going to do a little launch that includes a few extra live classes, so come join us! Being there live was electric and I’ve made a lot of changes already with more to come. I hope you find a similar excitement in watching the videos!

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Are Lacy Panties Holy Underwear? by Kitty Bucholtz

April 9, 2023 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , ,

I’m not being blasphemous. It’s actually a funny story from earlier this week. I was in a Zoom Bible study and we were talking about the body of Christ, and how we make up all the parts of the body, and I was super tired and blurted out — “Yeah, even the underwear!”

Hahaha!!! Then I tried to explain — “You know, when I’m thinking too highly of myself I remind myself that I might only be the underwear.”

My friend Charlotte said, “But you’d be the lacy underwear, Kitty.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” I said. “The bride of Christ isn’t wearing granny undies. She’d be wearing lace. So she’s probably wearing Victory’s Secret lace underwear.”

Hahaha!!!! It took a minute for us to get back on track after that!

Then I was thinking that’s probably true. As much as we try to be “good,” we don’t always succeed. Sometimes there are holes in our faith. And lace has holes. So our faith — my faith, for sure — is probably more like lace underwear than sturdy granny undies. Hahaha! Of course, that analogy only goes so far since sturdy cotton lasts a long time, longer than lace. But you see where I was going with it! Haha! Sometimes I blurt out the strangest things when I’m tired! (And guess what conversation is going to find its way into this book or the next one!)

Whatever your views on cotton vs. lace  😉  I hope you have a beautiful Holy Week and a blessed Easter!

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Trying vs. Training by Kitty Bucholtz

March 9, 2023 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , ,

A few days ago, my friend Joe sent a link to a podcast episode he thought some of his friends would like. Now Joe is a professional personal trainer and very athletic, so when I started listening to the episode host, Craig Groeschel of Life.Church, talk about jujutsu and wrestling, I was thinking that Joe overestimated my interest in getting more fit. Hahaha! (Joe helped me get in better shape when I was training for a half marathon a couple years ago.)

But as I listened to this episode I started thinking about writing. What is the difference between “trying” and “training” when it comes to writing, finishing, and publishing books?

To give you an example, I’ve been “trying” to finish rebranding and republishing my backlist for the last two years. Two years?! Yes! And I can explain every single thing that has come up, gone wrong, had to be fixed, and all the reasons finishing has been bumped lower on my priority list every month. But that is what “trying” looks like.

I’m trying, but I got busy.

I’m trying, but I got sick.

I’m trying, but I had to wait for my audiobook narrator to be free to make the changes.

I’m trying, but after I upgraded Vellum a couple of my old files wouldn’t open.

I’m trying, but I should put my clients’ work first ahead of my own, always.

And on and on. See any of your excuses — good reasons — for why something in your writing life still isn’t done?

Now let’s compare it to training. When I’m training to run a half marathon, I have to commit in advance to 4-6 months of work because I’m about to pre-pay for that race. At the beginning, I’ll need to take about 5-10 hours a week to focus on running and weight training. By the month before the race, that number is up to at least 15 hours a week. That’s just to finish the race, avoid injuries, and be in the range of my average time. To try to beat my best time will take more work (i.e., more time).

Sitting here in my warm living room on a snowy cold day in March, that doesn’t sound too appealing. (If I’m thinking about it on a day the sun’s out, it gets more appealing! Haha!) But I really like the idea of beating my best time, faster for me than I’ve ever run before, at the age of 55 (in two weeks!). After all, I beat my best time two years ago when I was 53. What if I could have my all-time fastest race when I’m 60?

Now I’m weighing excitement against what I’ll have to do (see above) and what I’ll have to give up (time that I could be writing, watching TV, hanging out with friends).

That’s the difference between trying and training — what am I willing to commit to, what will I do more of, and what am I willing to give up in order to meet my goals?

I had all of these ah-ha’s going off in my head during that 30-minute podcast, and I immediately saw a couple areas of my writing life where I needed to STOP TRYING. “I’m trying” is often a phrase that is waiting to be filled with excuses (even good ones!). But “I’m training” says I’m learning how to do what I need to do, I’m applying what I’m learning, and I’m going to keep evaluating my progress and tweaking what I do.

Whether we’re on book one or book one hundred, there is someone we can learn from. If something was working for us once but no longer works, there is something we can tweak to get back on track — or get onto a different track we now want to be on.

What’s going on in your life, writing or otherwise, that is now waving its hand at you, shouting, “Over here! Stop trying! Start training!” You can do it!

And it will be worth it! 😀

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Do You Need More Time for All Your Goals? by Kitty Bucholtz

February 9, 2023 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , , , ,
where is my life going

Subtitle for This Block

Title for This Block

Every year, when I write down all of my goals, the list contains enough stuff to last several years. And after I trim it down to the essentials, it’s still almost definitely more than I can accomplish in the next 12 months. But I always want to try! Haha!

Do you have a lot on your mind and in your heart to do in 2023? I’m with you, friend! But there’s a saying attributed to the famous American businessman, Peter Drucker: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

So let’s work together and both achieve more this year than we did last year! We’ll write down our goals AND how we’re going to measure them. As we keep track, we can look for ways to improve what we’re doing — and get more done.

And not just “stuff.” If you’re looking for someone to help you get off the couch and clean the house every Saturday, there are better people out there to help you with that. 😉 I’m talking about looking at the next 10-12 months and focusing on the most important things to you — finishing and publishing one or more books, helping your daughter plan her wedding, gain some muscle and lose some fat, do something from your bucket list.

I teach a class that’s helped hundreds of writers over the last two decades to get more writing done. Going the Distance: Time and Project Management for Writers. And with my new and improved version, we’ll look at my WHOLE PATH System to working on your whole life, not just writing in a vacuum.

The class will be online and self-paced, so you don’t have to show up at a certain time. But as a bonus, I’ll offer 4 live Q&A sessions during February and March. If you can’t make it live, you can send me your question and I’ll answer it so you can watch the recording.

Now is the time to get focused on what’s most important to you. And starting February 20, you can get the help you need to write more with less stress and more peace and joy this year!

I’ve created a couple short videos on my YouTube channel to help you in the meantime. The first is Easy Planning for the 3 Most Important Things in Your Life, and the second is Micro- vs. Macro-Planning. I hope you find them useful and encouraging!

And I hope to see you in class! 😀

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