Plans for 2011

I’ve never been one for “resolutions” but I do believe in setting goals. I have quite a few goals this year, some relating to my personal life, and some writing related. I think most of them would bore you to death — I mean, come on, doesn’t every writer make a goal or resolution to “write more”? But there are some decisions I need to make that I’d love to have your input on.

Efficient seems to be my buzz-word for my goals this year. Most days this year I’ve ended up spending at least 15 hours per day at my computer. Maybe 6 to 8 hours may be writing or editing, but the rest is writing blog posts or doing the marketing dance. So I need to figure out a way to be more efficient about everything in order to get me away from my ‘desk’ and give me time to stop and smell the proverbial roses. (They have to be proverbial because I kill any plant I own with my black thumb.)

How can I be more efficient writing-wise? When it comes to my word count goals, I learned in 2009 and solidified that belief in 2010 that I need to plot out a story before I write it. Otherwise I end up writing 150,000 to 200,000 words to end up with a story that’s 50,000 words.  By efficient, I mean follow the plan I’d set out without hopping down any of those tantalizing bunny trails that lead no where. It doesn’t mean I cannot allow myself to wander off the path at all, sometimes that’s when I have those epiphanies of where the story needs to go. But I’m going to be looking more at how I advanced the story each day more than worrying about that cherished 2,000 word per day count. (It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference if I write 14K a week if I end up chopping out 10K of it.)I have so many stories I want to write, and deadlines, some self-imposed, some not, that I need to write as efficiently as possible.

How to make myself more efficient when it comes to marketing and promotion? Well, I have two releases in May this year, so I need to figure out the best way of getting the word out about them without wasting a lot of time and energy. I am not a marketing genius so figuring promotions out is a real challenge. Some marketing methods work with one book that totally fail with the next. Do blog hops work? Because frankly I’m finding less and less people have the time to go around and visit blogs. I know from personal experience I use Google Reader to keep track of my favorite blogs and if the title or first line on the preview doesn’t grab me, I don’t read it. I imagine you’re the same. If you see “Oh, it’s just another author promo post” you probably skip over it too. So I’ll put the question out to you — after word-of-mouth, how do you find out about new-to-you authors? Got any tips?

I know a lot of people say it’s all about social marketing these days — Facebook, Twitter, etc. I love Twitter. I love the access it gives me to my friends and also to strangers in the industry, and all the hints, tips and gossip, along with the sheer randomness of some tweets. I’ve discovered new authors that I’ve come to love and have become auto-buys for me, and have made notes about the industry that hopefully will help my career in the long run. Plus it’s sometimes just a welcome change to be able to “talk” to people who get what it’s like in this usually solitary career. I often use Twitter as my reward after a writing sprint so I may talk for 10 minutes then disappear for a half hour …or a half week if I’m on a real deadline. If you’re on Twitter feel free to follow me, I’m at http://twitter.com/leahbraemel and don’t hesitate to say hi when you’re online.

Facebook is more of a conundrum to me. I can see its attraction. Somewhat. It’s sort of like Twitter where you can friend people and see what’s going on in their world while not being limited to 140 characters. I love that people can connect with their favorite authors, but while I have over 1200 “friends” on my personal profile, I know about 5 of them in person. It also allows strangers to spam me with a constant barrage of invitations and notes about their upcoming book or..well, try to use the social networking aspect of it for more personal connections. I know I write steamy romances but in real life I’m married and happily, at that. But an awful lot of men don’t seem to care about that. Frankly some of the requests I’m getting these days…well, they leave me more than a little creeped out. And they’re starting to outnumber the spammy “buy my book” plugs from strangers.

So I’m going to be making a change on Facebook in the next few weeks. I currently have my regular profile, and a fanpageLater this month, I’m going to set my personal profile to family only and ask that people link to my fanpage (I still wish I could call it my “professional” page as fanpage sounds so…not me.) I will be sending out an announcement through Facebook, but if I unfriend you from my profile, please don’t be offended. I’m still there–find my fan page and like it or friend it or whatever they’re calling it these days. I’ll be posting to it as well, so you’ll still be up to date.

Finally, you may have noticed that my guest blogger list on my sidebar is rather spare for the coming year. I’ve done that deliberately. This blog will also be undergoing some changes in the near future and I didn’t want to commit to too much until I know just what direction it’s going. I should have more news for you on this later this month. Do you like the guest’s blogs and being introduced to possibly new-to-you authors? Or do you skip them as blatant promo?

*Twitter and Facebook icons thanks to http://www.iconspedia.com/pack/icons-web-2-0-302/

5 thoughts on “Plans for 2011

  1. Hi Leah!
    Happy Brand New 2011!
    I love Twitter too, for all the reasons you wrote.
    As for Facebook – I'm boycotting it.
    When I tried to add my Twitter friends, Facebook suspended my acct for attempting to add too many friends. When I complained (via email- the only option) I got a form letter reply. So no Facebook for me. Ever.
    (sticks out tongue at Facebook)
    :)
    I love author guest posts! Sometimes they introduce me to a writer I wouldn't have found out about on my own.
    (Same with author interviews)
    Plus most author guest posts are interesting reads.
    :)
    All the best,
    Rob

  2. I'm with Rob. Ditto on the guest posts though as you mentioned I don't have time to catch them all and if it's between a deadline and reading about an author I don't know, I'd probably pass till I do and come back.

    You know I'm just getting on Twitter because of my bandwidth. Facebook too though the jury is still out on my opinion there. I let my personal blog slide for the group Blame it on the Muse blog late in the year. This year I've recommitted to blogging twice a week minimum (creative stimulation mainly). I also use Google Reader.

    You know me, pantser and we're always trying to to find ways to gravitate to the dark side of plotting. So I've restructured my Scrivener templates for new work and reorganized my current file. Before they improved it I was another program for my notes and bible like detail.

    So I'm using Snowflake and Write IT Now for exploration and planning then onto Scrivener. And I got a little task and time planner called Things that is just fabulous. I'm going to be religious about planning my time again, so I can be more flexible when DH needs something.

    Can't wait to hear what you come up with.

  3. I'm glad to hear you will have a writer/author page at Facebook in addition to a personal page. I love getting updates at Facebook for authors but I certainly don't know them on a personal level and I'm sure they don't need to read my every post about my border collies. ;)

    I like to read whatever a favorite author has to say to the general world, especially if it concerns a new book. :) I wanted to make sure you knew that you can have your twitter things sent to Facebook automatically. Jill Shalvis does this and I'm so glad because that woman is hilarious.

    As for blog-hopping… I read authors' blogs primarily so that I can keep up with new books also in the hopes that they will be amusing. Last year, I would go to a blog and find a guest post by another author. Then the next FIVE BLOGS I went to of my favorite authors all had basically the same post that day or the next day, about the guest's new book. It felt like this happened for a month straight and I gave up on reading all of them. So an occasional hop is great but doing nothing but hopping with the same content is not so interesting.

    I am a regular reader of a few blogs by authors (maybe 5-6) who occasionally have guests (once a month or twice a month, rather than more than once a week) and I don't branch out beyond this because I find that due to the hopping thing, most interesting new (to me) authors find their way into my field of view eventually.

  4. Rob – FB sure knows how to shoot itself in the foot, doesn't it? Plus it keeps changing privacy settings and every few months the loops are filled with chatter about the latest change that you need to protect yourself from. I like Twitter. :D

    Marley – blogging does take time, both to read others' posts and to write yourself, not to mention how tough it is to be original most times.

    Whatever program works for you – Scrivener, Snowflake Write IT Now – it still comes down to writing forward every day.

    Allie — thank you! I'd often wondered if blog hops wore readers out. That's really useful for me to know as I plan for May's releases. Looks like the thing to do is to spread them out far and wide, and over a period of time? (I always 'try' to write something original but oh boy, can it be tough.)

    My Facebook author page has been active for a while now. I just have to figure out how to get my Twitter posts to post onto the author page instead of my profile. I think Hootsuite can do it, Tweetdeck perhaps too. Obviously that bears some investigation. Thanks for reminding me about that.

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