2012 – A Writer’s Year in Review


oregon_mattHappy New Year, everyone!

Like so many others, I thought I’d do a 2012 year-in-review post to see where I’ve come from, what I’ve done, and where I hope to go in the future. Part ego-trip, part reminiscence, it’s a good way to get a running start on the new year.

In the last year…

  • After merely dipping my toe in the water in 2011, I dove all the way into self-publishing by publishing my two crime fiction novels, A Reason to Live and Blueblood. While I was fairly certain I’d publish short stories and novellas online, it wasn’t until I made the commitment to put my novels in the ring that I was “all in.” The financial rewards have been modest, but the sense of control over my career and self-empowerment can’t be matched.
  • I sold over 1,000 copies of A Reason to Live since its publication in May. I gave away more than 12,500 copies. (I think. Timely and accurate record keeping is a resolution for 2013.)
  • In addition to publishing the two novels mentioned, I wrote a third novel as well as three short stories, a novella, and most of another. I’ve outlined two more novels.
  • I created the artwork for all of my covers and all of the formatting for all pieces.
  • I published 130 posts to my blog, which received 14,500 hits and garnered 102 followers. More importantly, it put me in touch with a new spectrum of colleagues, thinkers, and friends.
  • In a similar vein, I went from 7 friends on Goodreads to 1,200 by applying myself assiduously to the site that I consider to be the promotional corollary to Amazon. And–although I can’t exactly quantify this progress–in using the site, I went from “throw-your-tea-cup-across-the-room” frustration to “I-can-almost-do-everything-I-want-in-three-steps-or-less” proficiency.
  • Through contacts I made in local writers’ groups, I managed to score an offer to form, manage, and participate on an all-star self-publishing panel made up of Scott Nicholson, Michael Sullivan, Robin Sullivan, and Karen Cantwell at George Mason University’s Fall for the Book program. Although neither Neil Gaiman nor Michael Chabon swung by to chat–both were honorees of the festival–the crowd of 120+ that turned out for the event was flattering.
  • I had my first three public books signings of the year, including a book festival I formed with nine other local DC writers that also landed me with my first TV gig: a 5 minute spot on a live local interest show. Both events were harrowing at first and fun in the end.
  • I continued to be the webmaster for both a local writers club (www.northernvirginiawriters.org) as well as its state parent (www.virginiawritersclub.org).
  • I published widely through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes in an effort to reach a wider audience, only to contract towards the end of the year, disappointed by the lack of support from all of those channels.
  • I held five giveaways on Goodreads with a combined total of 4,000 entrants.
  • I ducked my head into the world of advertising and promotion, which in turn led to a deeper understanding of Facebook, Twitter…and CTR rates.

Summary
With the publication of my novels, I naturally harbored hopes that I would become the next self-publishing, financially-independent phenom, interviewed by media outlets all over the world. While that didn’t happen, I’m not sure I could’ve been happier with 2012. The amount I learned in those twelve short months dwarfed everything I thought I knew previously and the sense of accomplishment I achieved pursuing, as Malcolm Gladwell put it, “meaningful work” hasn’t been mine since…well, it’s been a long time.

Looking Ahead
Keeping firmly in mind that my reach should exceed my grasp, I hope and plan to:

  • Publish three novels in 2013. I’ll continue at least two more in the Marty Singer series (returning later, of course) before branching off for a stand-alone thriller.
  • Launch a humorous fantasy novella series (I’m cheating: two are already written. Just working with an artist on the cover design). End goal: 5 novellas.
  • Stick to a twice weekly blog schedule.
  • Attend at least 1 conference and 10 signings as a participant, not an observer.
  • Look into representation and publication by a small press. I’m curious to see whether, as some believe, “hybrid publishing” (some self-publishing + some traditional publishing) is where the future lies. The successful writing career may be in small presses, where the rules, traditions, and contractual mentality are vastly less-calcified.
  • I’d like to have 250 blog subscribers, 2,500 Goodreads friends, 150 Facebook followers, 1,000 Twitter followers. It should be a simple task to accomplish any one of them, but all of those goals will take some doing…
  • Keep trying to crack the nut on advertising and promotion.
  • Continue to work on my craft. The schedule of promotion and self-publication tend to take some of the creative stuffing out of me, which I don’t like. The goal shouldn’t be only about quotas.

In the end…
I hope your 2012 was full of pleasant surprises and goals met, and that 2013 will have more of the same. Grow, improve, and strive in all that you do…we’ll compare notes this time, next year.

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Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in The Journey
13 comments on “2012 – A Writer’s Year in Review
  1. Wo3lf says:

    Thanks for the post, Matt. Your experiences helped me a lot this year and your productivity continues to inspire me. I wish you all the best for 2013.

  2. Char says:

    You’ve done great and really applied yourself. Congrats on all you did, and for your lofty goals. You definitely can accomplish them.

  3. “With the publication of my novels, I naturally harbored hopes that I would become the next self-publishing, financially-independent phenom, interviewed by media outlets all over the world.”

    You, too? : )

    And how have you managed to get that many friends on Goodreads? Are you just friend requesting folks or what?

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hi Stan – I found one of the easiest ways to get “good” GR friends is to find a popular writer in your genre or category, click on their friends, and start going down their list. You can also do the same for interest groups and top 100 lists. GR stops you at about 12 or 15, I can never figure out how many.

      I try to set a quota of 100 for the month and sometimes beat it. I also try to contact many with a little note or at least scan their profile…I don’t want to spam these people and I really value many of the exchanges I’ve had.

      • Gotcha. That’s a great way to do it!

        And I saw the other day that your book is still trucking along. If you get to the big leagues first, can you hire me for PR, publicity, and personal assistant/bodyguard?

      • Oh, and would you say Goodreads is now your primary and best place to meet potential new readers?

      • Matthew Iden says:

        Stan – Sorry for the chronically late reply. In short, yes, I think Goodreads is the best/one of the best places to connect with readers if for no other reason than author : reader contact isn’t stigmatized like it is on Amazon (through forums and Comment sections on your own titles).

        You can make wonderful contacts and, if you tread carefully, put a fairly steady stream of promo through giveaways, online events, and status updates. Sometime this year I want to make deeper involvement in Groups a priority, which I think will pay dividends.

  4. What an AWESOME year you had, well done and best wishes for next year. A belated Happy New Year to Ewe.. I hope you don’t mind I’ve linked you to my blog for a Blog Hop for writers. Baarb

  5. Ellen says:

    Congratulations! I’m amazed at how prolific you are, and so appreciate all the tips you share on use of marketing channels. 21013 will be great! Now if I can just make one of the NoVa club meetings… 🙂

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Ellen, thanks so much. I’m hoping 2013 will be better, as #3 in the marty series is back from the editor and I’m hoping to release in under a month.

      And I’ve got a tongue-in-cheek fantasy series planned for release in maybe 2 months–i’m working with a freelance illustrator for cover and interior drawings…exciting stuff!

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