This year, I self-identified as a writer. Writing is what I do. “Writer” is how I introduce myself. It started small. I chose the variant of my name that I will put on book covers and business cards, bought a domain name, rented some server space and started this blog. Within a few months, I had duplicated most of my personal social media presence with professional versions using the name M. C. Frye. A few months later I had ventured into social media avenues where I’d never ventured under my personal name.
But there is more to it than the statistics about where I am active as a writer on social media. The activity has spawned and nurtured meaningful acquaintanceships and friendships with other writers, both published and unpublished. I’m learning both practical and philosophical lessons about the craft and the business from people I would never have met without taking those first steps of calling myself a writer.
And the effort has been successful in terms of building a nascent author platform and support network, but it was and is missing one critical ingredient: a published work. In a nutshell, that’s how the year went.
The devil is in the details.
How did I do in 2016?
I started the year with a work in progress, The Gideon Effect.
I ended the year with a partially beta-read work in progress, a completely new WIP thanks to NaNoWriMo, a website, a WordPress blog, a Facebook page, a twitter handle, a Google+ and Google blogger presence, and accounts on Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, Scriggler, and Instagram.
I have no idea what I should be doing with some of these elements of an author platform, but with others, I’ve made some progress.
I didn’t end the year with my goal of a published novel accomplished. All the platform work was supposed to be supplemental and supportive of that goal. My new WIP was an effort to break out of the stale grind that 2016 had become, a stale grind that was of my own construction. I don’t regret spending a month on something completely different, but I do regret not completing a publication-ready final draft this year.
What did I learn?
- I need to focus my platform/social media efforts. Every new account is a new time sink.
- I need to approach writing with near-NaNo levels of discipline and effort all year long.
- Above all, I need to spend the majority of my writing time on my WIPs. Put another way, I need to align my efforts with my objectives. I need to plant myself in front of my laptop, open Scrivener, and put words on the page.
What are my plans for 2017?
- Restart the beta reader process for The Gideon Effect (TGE).
- Commission and approve a book cover for TGE.
- Learn everything I need to know in order to publish TGE on multiple platforms.
- Publish TGE.
- Finish the first draft of my NaNoWriMo work in progress (Dark Straits).
- Streamline my author platform building and maintenance efforts. My goal is to spend less than five hours a week. Three hours would be great.
- Attend two or three book festivals and Science Fiction/Fantasy conferences this summer.
- Be less ambitious and more productive with this blog and with social media.
2017 will be the year I publish my first novel. I expect a wild ride, but I’m better prepared for success this year.
How did your 2016 go? What are your plans for 2017?