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Three Years of Stories…What’s Next?

It’s been almost 3 years since I published my first novel. Here are the milestones:

October-December 2016 rewrite for the tenth time Going Over the Falls in two-hour chunks during my youngest daughter’s preschool hours.

March 2017 hire an editor, cover designer, website creator, and make about 100 decisions I felt totally unqualified to answer.

April 2017 question: what is a newsletter and how do I start one? 

May-June 2018 arrange a book release party, ship the books stored in my closet to friends and family, organize readings at bookstores and beg people to attend

Summer 2017 realize I need to learn a whole new skillset. Spend hours mucking around with website copy, listening to free webinars, and pulling my hair out

Fall 2017 run my first giveaway. I now have 400 newsletter subscribers, yay!

Winter 2017 wonder if I’m writing in the wrong genre…marketing standalone women’s fiction as an Indie is HARD.

January 2018 quit my fiction editing side gig because the deadlines are murder and the pay is crap. If I’m going to write, I need devote more time to it.

January 2018 think about giving up. The business side of being an Indie is HARD.

February 2018 discover an author coach who proposes I write a mystery series, and to give the first book away for free.

March-June 2018 ponder the idea of GIVING A BOOK AWAY FOR FREE. Good Lord, could I do such a thing?

June 2018 publish Love in the Time of Surfing, which I thought was so so clever. Who wouldn’t want to buy a story set in an exotic location filled with suspense, surfing, and danger?

Summer 2018 Love in the Time of Surfing gets downloaded 8,000 times and becomes a bestseller. People start joining my mailing list. Panic because I have nothing else to sell them.

Fall 2018 write the hardest book I’ve ever created: Meet Me on the Mountain, the prequel and second book in the Cassidy Kincaid series. I still can’t read this book without crying, but it’s the most beautiful love story I’ve ever read. Go ahead and call me biased, but I read A LOT.

October 2018 I now have 1700 newsletter subscribers, woohoo!

November 2018 enroll in a marketing course to help me launch books. Turns out people actually want to buy my books, and I have to stop apologizing for helping them do so

December 2018 start the lengthy rewrite process for Feeding the Fire, a book I wrote years ago that’s been burning a hole in my heart ever since. Know that I should instead work on book 3 of the Cassidy series, but my heart wins.

December-January 2019 escape to Costa Rica for 5 weeks to surf, dream, play, and write, write, write

February 2019 take a paying gig to write marketing copy for my family’s business because I realize that in order to take over the fiction writing world, I’m going to need about a million dollars

February-March 2019 realize that the reason all those new subscribers who joined my newsletter from the free copy of Love in the Time of Surfing is because they thought it was a romance book. Change the title to Rescuing Reeve and struggle with my low-budget designer to get the cover right, then update it everywhere

May 2019 publish Feeding the Fire, likely my best stand-alone book. Glow from Publisher’s Weekly’s praise: “The author’s prose style is very readable, almost transparent in the way it falls away in service to the story. At the same time, the text is beautifully written, with precise language and startling imagery.” Using my new launch strategy, the book does well with my audience but never gains any traction outside of my now-2000 readers.

June 2019. MUST. CONTINUE. SERIES.

Summer-fall 2019. Go through some intense personal struggles stemming from a shift in my health (no crisis, I’m fine). Maybe it influenced my writing because Finding Izzy Ford came out quite dark, and with several mistakes that still make me wince.

Fall 2019 I now have 4,000 readers! Quit my copy writing job for good because I CAN.

November 2019 delays in the editing process push the publication of Finding Izzy Ford into the Christmas craziness.

December 5, 2019. Publish Finding Izzy Ford and try to market among the intense noise of the season.

January-February 2020. Plotting and more plotting for Exposing Ethan. Hire a new cover designer (no more guesswork, researching images, wahoo!), write the blurb, research, research, research. Meet “Buddy” my FBI contact and ping him weekly for intel on all things Bureau.

February 2020 work with a marketing expert to plot my next mystery series: 5 books, set in Seattle, featuring a badass investigative journalist. Stoked for this one, guys!

Feb-March I run another giveaway and gain some more readers. It’s starting to feel like critical mass now with almost 8,000 people enjoying my books and stories

March 2020 finally start writing Exposing Ethan! It’s going to be so good!

April 2020 finish Exposing Ethan

May 2020, edit the ms, plan for the launch, revise the ms, tweak the blurb

June 2020 (aiming for 16th) publish!!!

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So, there’s the journey for you. Where do I see myself in 3 years? 

  1. Writing full time.
  2. Two more mystery series published (Meg Dawson coming early 2021, then another after that)
  3. Attempting to make a list (USA Today, Wall Street Journal, etc). Believe it or not, this only requires money (and a good product!)
  4. Mentoring other authors – in writing or marketing or both
  5. Spending more time with my family (my youngest will be a teenager by then, yikes!)
  6. Getting better sleep!
  7. Maybe writing in another genre as well as mystery – fantasy? romantic suspense?
  8. Hiring someone else to run all of my social media except Facebook (which I actually enjoy). That’s when I know I’ll have hit the big time!