A year's end summation post about my writing life in 2013 and my goals for 2014. 2013 IN RECAP
1. Launched Eli Easton
In March I paid my favorite web designer to help me create an Eli Easton website. I also got a URL, email, facebook page, and twitter account for Eli.. At the time I wondered if it was sheer folly. My first m/m romance book written under Eli Easton hadn't even come out yet, so perhaps I was jumping the gun. But I had a number of books accepted and lined up for publication. More importantly, my heart was in it--I was committed and excited.
I have written under a different name before, but Eli was all about male-male love. Whether or not she/he/it had any future was a mystery.
2. Published 10 titles
This was way more than I had in mind! But I began writing in the fall of 2012 and it just so happened that the pub dates fell within the 2013 year, starting with my first story as Eli Easton, "A Kiss In The Dark", which appeared in the Closet Capers anthology in April 2013, and ending with "The Enlightenment of Daniel", published Dec 18, 2013. It helped that many of these were shorter works. All in all, I published 3 short stories ("A Kiss in the Dark", "Caress", "Before I Wake"), and 7 novellas ("The Lion and the Crow", "Superhero", "The Trouble with Tony", "Puzzle Me This", "A Prairie Dog's Love Song", "Blame It On The Mistletoe", and "The Enlightenment of Daniel").
3. Self-published for the first time
In November, I self-pubbed "Blame It On The Mistletoe". This was a happy accident. I submitted both "A Prairie Dog's Love Song" and Mistletoe to Dreamspinner's advent. Prairie Dog got a contract. What then to do with Mistletoe? I could have submitted it to another xmas anthology, but I decided to experiment and self-pub it. I got a lovely cover from Reese Dante (perhaps my favorite all year) and paid an editor. Would Mistletoe even earn back what I spent? It did, and it showed me that self-publishing was possible and rewarding.
4. Had a #1 hit on Amazon
After seeing a number of my releases get lukewarm response (or so it seemed), I was a bit discouraged by October. Was this m/m romance genre really going to make sense for me? Or was I publishing mediocre work into a glut of other titles? I was not convinced. Then "Blame It On The Mistletoe" came along. It hit #1 on Amazon's gay romance list on Thanksgiving day and stayed in the top 5 for 4 weeks and has gotten over 500 ratings on GR. Okay, then. Maybe I can do this. Maybe not every single time, but at least I'm capable of having a hit.
5. Made some 'best of' lists:
A few of my books, mostly "Superhero", and "Mistletoe", made some 'year's best lists' and/or were nominated for such on forums. In the overwhelming sea of constant releases, this kind of recognition is so invaluable, not only to my soul and self-confidence, but to my long-term sales. THANK YOU.
6. Completed my first full-length m/m novel:
"The Mating of Michael", Sex in Seattle #3, is 73K words. It was finished and turned in Dec 31st!
7. Learned a lot
I've learned alot about the m/m romance genre. Some key points:
* It's a small and crowded market. Not many books sell even a thousand units. So as a way to make a living, it's a tough road.
* The other authors are very friendly. I've made a few valuable friends this year and been supported by a lot of my own favorite authors. Thank you.
* There's not a lot of content editing. So far, my experiences with my publishing partner, Dreamspinner, has shown me that the editors mostly focus on grammer and punctuation. If a character sucks ass, or a scene doesn't work, I'm not likely to hear about it. GOOD, HONEST BETAS ARE KEY.
* You have no fucking idea what will hit. Honestly, books I thought people would love they didn't so much, and books I thought were just okay seemed to strike a communal chord. Timing seems to be part of it too. If I figure it out, I'll let you know.
* Readers want longer book and other Extreme Prejudices. Through the feedback from reviewers, I've learned what things readers complain about and what things they like. It's an ongoing learning process.
* New releases have a very, very short window. It's discouraging, but there are so many new titles coming out that you have a week or two of getting readers's attention, and then you are off the radar forever unless you're lucky enough to make some 'best of' lists.
2013 in sum:
I loved publishing m/m in 2013 and I feel like I've made some in roads. I so much appreciate everyone who gave a new author a try this past year, gave an encouraging review, paid for a book, rec'd my books to friends, or sent me an email. Without that kind of feedback, a new author is likely to dry up and blow away. MUCH APPRECIATED.
My goals for 2014:
1. Avg 2100 words/day when writing new content, twice that when editing
2. Release 3 novels in 2014 (The Mating of Michael, The Lion and the Crow expanded novel, plus one more TBD)
3. Release 4 novellas in 2014 (2 in the gothika anthologies, 1 in Daily Dose, 1 Christmas novella)
4. Achieve another #1 at some point. On goodreads have a book with 800+ ratings.
5. Write another YA for pub in 2014 or 2015
I'm still working at a full-time job outside the writing, and one I enjoy, so writing fiction continues to be a heavy side job for me. But I hope to be able to spend at least a month FT on it at some point late in 2014.
ALL THE BEST FOR YOUR NEW YEAR'S GOALS THIS YEAR!