A New Author’s Year in Review Pt. 1

CalendarThis is a continuation from Monday’s blog, The Serendipity of Christmas Generosity. It took time to get to the place where I was ready to commit to writing after the events described in my previous post. But that bit of serendipity certainly affected what I’ve done this past year as well as where I’m going next year. With this series I’ll reveal how I’ve progressed this year in several ways before discussing those areas in detail in later posts.

When the year started, I was trying to push along with writing short stories and revising my book. But I had been considering putting some money into building an author platform with a website and other necessities. I hesitated investing the money because it meant committing to the publication of the book but also financial sacrifice for several years on a hosting contract. I didn’t want to invest the money without having something on which to base this decision.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Here’s where I made my first mistake regarding an author platform. I assumed that I needed to invest hundreds of dollars on a domain, website, design, etc. This mistake kept me in a holding pattern for far longer than I needed to be because of my hesitations.

But I knew I needed to take the next steps forward as an author in the digital age. I needed the web presence, email account, domain, and various social media accounts. In effect, I was blocked by the assumption and consequent hesitation to invest money while I wanted to invest myself more heavily in the endeavor.

In the end my hesitation was accurate and my assumption flat wrong. My wife later lost her job so the reluctance to spend hundreds of dollars was spot-on. Why invest money I don’t have for something that may not work in the end? However, after months of kicking the idea around I re-examined my assumption last April.

With some research, I found that I could host my email for little cost. This was a big deal because it is the foundation of all my plans to build a web presence as an author. I knew that I could obtain a domain for a small investment and website/blog hosting for free. Free hosting wasn’t exactly what I wanted since I felt I needed greater control for branding than free hosting would allow. But in the end, I decided that a small outlay gave me a reasonable way to launch and build as well as pull back if things didn’t work the way I wanted.

By mid-May I had launched my author platform online. I obtained my domain and the hosting. Then I got my email hosted for a small cost. After that, I was able to begin adding social media accounts using my domain-branded email account.

After all this it was a matter of growing my web presence. Easy to say and hard to do. I really didn’t understand how to blog nor the importance of various social media formats. But I launched as much as I could and started learning.

Here’s where I made my second mistake. I was in a hurry to publish the book, mainly because I had hesitated so many months on the platform. I needed money for the book – professional editing, cover art, formatting and upgrades to my website with hosting and custom themes. So I had begun considering the use of crowd-funding. Now, I’m not saying the idea is without merit or that I didn’t get anything from the effort but I should have waited and patiently built the platform. In the end, I did raise some money – enough to commission some cover art – but the time I wasted on the campaign should have been spent on blogging and social media.

So that’s how I started the year – with nothing for an author presence. With a lot of hard work I have email, a website and several growing social media accounts. Along the way, I made two blunders that set me back. So here’s a few tips I’ve learned as a result.

Under Construction1. Don’t hesitate to start you author platform. I’ll discuss more details over the rest of the month but with some research you can launch your web presence for little cost and grow it from there. Mine is not where I want it yet but it is getting there with constant effort.

2. Many people have advised new authors to focus their attention on their web presence in advance of publication. I agree. I waited too long based on what I thought I needed rather than just starting inexpensively and growing. I wasted months and could have been much further along.

3. Don’t be distracted by things like crowd-funding too soon. I was and wasted several months of my time grousing about what wasn’t happening. Instead I should have…

4. Focused on my web presence. I should have upped my game with blogging by learning how to do it and developing my ability to generate content. Once I did, I started improving on creative flow in general. Likewise, focus on social media growth because you’ll need it later to funnel potential readers to your writing. My presence was not large enough to garner much attention with crowd-funding and probably still isn’t.

5 Also focus on producing your primary content. I needed to complete a book revision and write short stories. I wasted time not being committed and then being distracted by a fund-raising campaign that wasn’t necessary. I did do some of the work and even self-published a short story as an ebook along with developing some related content for my book entitled, What is Needed. But if I had committed months earlier and not allowed the distraction I would have completed more writing projects and possibly made money from the short fiction to support my book development.

As I noted above, I plan to share more about the details of how I started, what I used and the reasons for my decisions – good and bad – in the coming weeks. I’ll also use another series to discuss my plans for the upcoming years and why I’m setting such goals. Along the way, I’m also planning to reveal what I hope will be a helpful Scrivener template related to all these issues and how I plan to move forward. Again, I’m sharing this for other new or floundering would-be authors so if you know someone giving a it a go as a writer please share my posts with them.

The Bow of DestinyWhat obstacles do you have as an author? How have you gotten around these obstacles? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

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