Showing posts with label Career Goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Career Goals. Show all posts

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Career Leveling Up: What Jeffe Is Doing

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "Room for Growth." We're discussing one aspect of our writing or publishing careers - that we can control! - that we'd like to improve this year.

This topic is apropos for me right now because I'm in the midst of a push to boost (wedge, shove, or squeeze) my career to a new level. I should caveat that I know I'm doing relatively well. I'm grateful for the success I've realized in my writing career and I never want to lose sight of the fact that many excellent and deserving authors haven't seen the same success. 

But I've reached a real sticking point.

For those who don't know, my husband has early onset Parkinson's Disease. He's over ten years into diagnosis, so while his progression has thankfully been quite slow, he's reached the point where he really can't hold down a job. That leaves supporting our household up to me and my books. I'm stubbornly resisting getting a day job again, so this year will really be the make or break on whether I can make enough money to pay the bills and have a cushion for the future.

So, what have I been doing?

Since I can't bottle lightning - which, I admit, I've kind of been hoping to do as getting a book or series that takes off into the stratosphere would be super nice - I've been learning to *shudder* market and advertise.

I attended Romance Author Mastermind in December. Something I'd been leery of before for many reasons. My bestie and sister author Grace Draven talked me into it and I'm so glad she did! I learned so much from it! Mostly I came to the realization that it would behoove me to treat my business like an actual business. 

The other thing that happened is I completed my contract with St. Martin's Press (all but for page proofs on book 3) and they passed on my option book, which is one I've mentioned, DARK WIZARD. They passed on it - even though my editor loved it and the house loves me - because they feel like they can't move fantasy romance in the print numbers that they'd like to. (They don't care about ebook sales. They want what they can sell at Walmart, which is Cowboy Romance and sweet contemporaries these days - so a tidbit for those of you who write that!) 

Once I got over the initial sad, because I loved working with St. Martin's, I took this as a Sign. While my writing income had been pretty close to 50/50 between Indie and Trad for the last few years, in 2020 that changed to 65% Indie - and my Trad income was only 75% of what it was in 2019. That's not a good trend. At Romance Author Mastermind there were many former Trad authors who been where I am and said they'd made their money switching to Indie. Yes, I've heard this before, too. These people showed the numbers. 

I decided that, instead of taking DARK WIZARD on submission to other Trad houses on submission, I'd self publish it. So, DARK WIZARD, book one in my new series, Bonds of Magic, will come out on February 25, 2021. (I loved writing this freaking book so much that I'd already written the whole thing!) 

(If you want a sneak peek of the cover of DARK WIZARD and what it's about, it will be in my newsletter going out Monday. Sign up here.)

Then, because I'd already planned a new series, Heirs of Magic (unrelated, I didn't realize the series title echoes until too late, ah well), with book one THE GOLDEN GRYPHON AND THE BEAR PRINCE releasing on January 25, 2021. You can preorder it here, or here are some handy buttons.

That means in 2021, I'll be taking advantage of the fact that I'm a relatively prolific writer - not writing anything for Trad - and releasing two Indie series. My release schedule will look like this. 

The Golden Gryphon and the Bear Prince (Heirs of Magic 1) 1/25/2021
Dark Wizard (Bonds of Magic 1)                                                 2/25/2021
The Sorceress Queen and the Pirate Rogue (Heirs of Magic 2) 4/19/2021
The Promised Queen (Forgotten Empires 3)                                  5/25/2021
Bright Familiar (Bonds of Magic 2)                                         6/26/2021
The Long Night of the Crystalline Moon (Heirs of Magic 0.5) 7/15/2021
The Dragon's Daughter and the Winter Mage (Heirs of Magic 3) 8/25/2021
Bonds of Magic 3 (Bonds of Magic 3)                                     11/1/2021
The Storm Princess and the Raven King (Heirs of Magic 4)         12/31/2021

Of those, three are already written, so it's not as intense as it looks. Also, because I track my productivity so intensely (something I always recommend all writers do, so we know exactly what we can and can't do), this is a doable writing schedule for me. (Hopefully. I'm pretty sure I can do this, but light a candle for me.)

I'm also doing things like reading books on marketing and advertising! I very much recommend David Gaughran's AMAZON DECODED: A MARKETING GUIDE TO THE KINDLE STORE. It's easy to digest and full of excellent, practical advice, absent the ickier kinds of self-publishing shouting. I bought the Publisher Rocket app and have been taking the online classes on maximizing keywords. 

I'm going all in, people. Wish me luck! (And buy my books :D) 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Should You Sign With an Agent?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week concerns the benefits of working with an agent - or, for those of us without agents - times we've wondered if an agent would be helpful or why we choose not to have one. 

I do have an agent, Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency. She's the third agent who's represented me - and I can personally vouch that having a bad agent really is worse than having none at all. But, I do believe having a good agent can be hugely beneficial - depending on what kind of writing career you want to have. 

What are the benefits of working with an agent? Here are three - along with their associated caveats.

Selling to big traditional publishing houses. 

By this, I mean the bigger houses that don't take unsolicited submissions. A good agent has connections - positive relationships - with editors who depend on agents to bring them books that fit what they love and can buy. This means that agents who send submissions to tons of editors in the hopes of something sticking to the wall, are not good agents. Agents who only manage to sell to houses that take unsolicited submissions aren't bringing much to the table either. This also means that if you are happy sticking to self-publishing, you don't need an agent.

Contract negotiation

See above. If you're selling to traditional publishing, an agent can be critical in negotiating the best deal and securing your rights. They're savvy to the grabs publishers can try to sneak past unwary authors. An agent who doesn't argue with contract language may not be doing their job. Also, a good agent will be solidly on the author's team, fighting for the author. Be wary of agents who prioritize preserving their relationship with the editor over championing the author. Unless the author is behaving badly, the agent should always put them first.

Career planning

A good agent can help strategize which projects a writer should choose to work on next. Again, they're going to come at this from the angle of selling to traditional publishing. Now, if you're the sort of writer who wants to work on exactly what you want to work on, with no input and without consideration for the current market - which some people are and that's a legitimate choice - then you won't want this from an agent. An agent can still sell your work in this scenario, but they'll be the sort who say "give me the next thing you write and we'll see." Both of these models work, but knowing which will work for you is key.

Having an agent can be beneficial to an author, but it's not a career-maker or breaker. Knowing what you want from an agent - or IF you want an agent - is most important. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Not So Big Career Goals

Enemy Games released Wednesday. *Insert Kermit flail.* You can find it in your preferred format from The Wild Rose Press site.

This book coming out is germane to our topic this week, because it turns out that having books come out is fun. And if you want some insight into the big career goals, here they are. In order of importance.

  1. Have fun. Recall that my strong suit is problem solving. There's no plot hole so wide or so deep (of my making) that I can't build some kind of rickety ladder to get across it. And the place I get fun from is in the engineering and building of that ladder. File this away: It is possible I broken beyond repair because I'm like this.
  2. Finish this series. Seriously. A decade of waiting is long enough.
  3. Move on to the next world. The next characters. The next intriguing premise. And this time, remember that "No." is a complete sentence when someone asks if I can make that a series. Unless it IS a series. 
  4. Make enough money to occasionally pay my mortgage. I realize this isn't asking for much. But even just that much would give me the springboard up to the next level.
  5. Rule the world. What? Too next level?  

You've had yet another frightening tour of the inside of my head, now it's your turn. I want to know what goal setting methods you're using. Do you write them down? Make them SMART goals? Post vision boards? Keep a Bullet Journal? Practice arcane rituals with a Ouija board in the coat closet in the dead of night?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wishing upon the Big Career Star

Big career goal to which I currently aspire?

To consistently earn six figures in annual sales, net and after taxes.  

Mercenary? No. Purely practical. How I get there? That's a long list. Some items I can control, some I can't. Attainable? Possibly. The "consistently" bit is trickier than a one-off, but not impossible...or so rumor has it. I have a long way to go before finding out.

Medium career goal I want to put out to the universe?

Sell a fantasy trilogy to NYC ...
     ...and have all three books actually make it to store shelves