2023 Author Goals
With the recap of 2022 out of the way, let's talk about what I want to accomplish in 2023 as an author.
1. Complete Rewrites of the First Three Dark Savior Novels
As of writing this, I am in the process of rewriting Gold Fever. I feel that these novels have good stories, but they're trapped behind iffy narration. Changes to the story will be minimal, but there are certainly points in Gold Fever that drag. If it better serves the reading experience while not changing the story, there will be cuts. I'm going to dedicate a blog series to how exactly I'm tackling the rewrites. These posts will include side-by-side comparisons, and why I feel that the new versions will be better.
After Gold Fever is finished, I'll move on to Seven Seals, and then A Gathering of Strangers to finish the rewrites off. Seven Seals in particular is one of my shorter books, and the only structural changes I want to make involve perspective shifts being clearer and avoiding inelegant variation. So, that book should be the easiest of my rewrites.
A Gathering of Strangers, on the other hand, might prove to be the most difficult. There are many, many characters in this story, and it was only after this novel that I began to make perspective shifts clearer. It has been over a year since I last read through it, but I assume there will be much head hopping to fix. I'll get into this more with my upcoming posts about the rewrites, but sometimes the perspective shifting requires me to make slight story changes.
My aim is to finish these rewrites and have them released by June 2023. Due to goals that will be discussed later in this post, I can't really afford to have them take much longer than that!
2. Re-record the Gold Fever Audiobook
Continuing with the re-release theme, I want the Gold Fever audiobook to be re-recorded to reflect the new text. I must admit that the first recording of the audiobook was a headache. It was 22.5 hours long! And nearly half of it needed fixes because I tried multitasking while listening through, and missed several mistakes in pronunciations/consistencies in accents.
Recently, I've found out that you can hire people to find such inconsistencies/issues, and I feel that would be a good investment. The only thing I'm unsure of is whether my friend, That Voice Guy Corsetti, is on board with re-recording. As the name implies, he prefers voice acting over audiobook narration. He has been on the fence about doing another audiobook, so I'm going to check back in with him when the Gold Fever rewrite is complete. I might need to check in with Audible's many narrators and work with one of them, should my buddy not be up for it.
I'm not even certain that I'll do audiobooks for other novels. While it's nice to have more options, I don't immediately get the impression that it's worth the effort if you don't have a large following of audiobook listeners already. Perhaps some of you have heard about Brandon Sanderson's issues with Audible. He points out that authors receive only 30% of earnings, and after profit sharing with narrators, that's 15% each. Insanely low when you consider the industry standard is 70% of earnings per sale. As Audible is essentially the only viable game in town, authors aren't left with much choice.
A re-release of this audiobook would only serve to ensure that the story is consistent across all platforms. It may make more financial sense for me to de-list it, but we'll see. I'd hate to waste all of that effort, only for it to be lost to time!
3. Release Confrontation
Confrontation is to be the final novel of the Ruined Trilogy. I haven't even started it yet, but I want it out by the end of the year. Considering the fact that I started work on Decimation in April 2022 and released it in November 2022, it will be a tall order to release Confrontation by December 2023.
But part of the fun of goals is to make them challenging. Can I get a book out in six months while writing part-time? Sure. Hell, I've heard of authors releasing over five books in a year while working 60-hour weeks at their day job. I should be able to do one book in six months!
What's more, since this is the conclusion to a trilogy, it needs to have a satisfying ending. Especially since Ruination ended on such a cliffhanger. While Decimation's ending is definitive, it still has readers looking to the future. I want readers to leave this trilogy satisfied and wanting more thrillers (Or... erm... maybe a dark fantasy? :D )
Stay tuned for posts about Confrontation in the second half of the year!
4. Website Upgrades
In my previous post, I detailed how fixes were made to my website, but not everything that I had listed. The dreaded SEO goal returns here. Maybe I'll actually look into it (Not holding my breath) and get traffic on my site!
In addition, I want to convert the site to a mobile-friendly view for people on tablets and phones. In a random blog post, I read that nearly 50% of book readers look at an author's site on their phone or tablet. I saw no sources for this claim, but I've decided to take the random blog post's word for it! The current "mobile" version of my site just shows a shrunken-down view of what normally shows up on a computer screen. You have to zoom in if you want to really see anything, and while I personally don't mind that, I assume that's a no-no for most people.
I could make the above two things my only goals for the site and leave it at that, but I enjoy making life difficult for myself. :P While I don't think it looks ugly, the website does feel a bit plain. I think the only solution here is to provide it with more images. Whether they're stock photos for the thriller sections of the site or more customized art for anything fantasy-related, I'm going to need to spend some money.
Speaking of money...
5. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!
2022 was a year where I did virtually no advertising. I experimented with Amazon ads in 2021 and ended up spending a lot more money than I made. And to be honest, doing promotions through dedicated sites got me more sales (Though I was still in the red from doing those). I got a boatload of free downloads and some page reads, but I don't think these people were necessarily into what I was offering so much as wanting something for free. Very few of them bought the sequels to Gold fever.
So, last year I focused on my writing. I came away with one of the key reasons why The Dark Savior Series wasn't selling: My writing wasn't up to par. Only people who looked beyond my coarse writing style could get into it at the time. It was a small audience, and I struggled to find anyone new.
Fast-forward to 2023, and my writing has progressed tremendously. I understand what the problems were, and am applying fixes to the Dark Savior Series based on what I learned. But wait, haven't we already gone over this? The point is that after I finish up the rewrites, all of my books will be ready to advertise. I feel that Ruination and Decimation are already there; I just need the Dark Savior books to catch up before I try to get them in front of an audience once more.
Speaking of "audience", I've been reading a fair amount of books about relaunching novels and advertising, and my biggest takeaway is that as an indie author, the chances of having mass appeal are low. I need to find my audience. This will require an analysis of what's in my stories and what people will like about them. Most importantly, what do these people, who are unaware of my novels, search for? That's how I can catch their eye.
Advertising on Facebook and Amazon will be my main methods, but I may try Bookbub and Google as well. In the future, I think that I'll detail my advertising efforts in a blog post or two, but it'll be more closely tied to a series of posts that involve my sixth and final goal of the year...
6. Make a Profit
Hoo, boy! I really am asking the impossible of myself this year, huh? :P But really, I've been doing this since 2019. We're coming up on year five as an author, and I haven't gotten out of the red on any of my releases. So, the goal is simple: Make at least one cent of profit on novels in the year 2023.
To be clear, I can make money on any of my previously released books and anything upcoming, but what I spend will go against that total. If I end up spending more than I make on books this year, it means I failed.
I will be doing a series of blog posts that go into more detail on my efforts to make a profit. They'll show what I'm spending on and why, as well as my efforts to build a pipeline and audience that will eventually put me in the black. Stay tuned for those blog posts!
I think that my 2023 goals are a little tougher than what I set out to do in 2022. While some of them are things I had planned on completing anyway, a few require me to actually succeed: Namely, advertising and making a profit. I have high hopes and higher expectations that I'll have good things to report over the year and at the start of 2024.
Previous years have brought on some successes and a higher volume of failures, if I'm honest. I've mentioned this in many previous posts, but when it comes to selling as an indie author, it feels like there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Back then, I mused that maybe that light had only been an illusion; that I was fooling myself into wasting money on yet another independent venture. Yet, I see examples of sustained success all around me, and they're not industry insiders; they're regular people who figured things out the hard way. Let this be the year where I become one of those people and prove to myself that the light at the end of the tunnel is real.