Happy Monday! We are now nine days into the new year, and I’ve always been a big fan of beginning how you wish to continue. Sometimes that’s not always possible as we learn new things along the way, but setting manageable goals and ways to get there instead of expecting too much of yourself and getting burnt out is a recipe for self-esteem issues, a hit to your confidence, and an overall sense of failure. Instead of trying to do all the things, tell yourself you’ll make one positive change this year that will help you get closer to your goals. That might be learning ONE ad platform, finding ONE podcast you like and going for a walk while you listen to it, or signing up for an informative newsletter (or starting your own!).
So my word for 2023 is INFORMATION. I’ve always been really surprised (shocked really) that more indies don’t care what’s going on in the industry. They’re an author, a publisher, a small business, yet they don’t care about learning what’s going on in the publishing world. It’s mystifying to me that when Draft2Digital bought Smashwords how many indies didn’t know what that was. Smashwords has only been around since the beginning of indie publishing and was one of the first distributors for authors if they wanted to sell their ebooks wide. That’s one example of how not keeping your fingers on the pulse of the publishing world can hurt you and your sales in the long run. They were missing out on one of the largest ebook sellers online! Not to mention Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has given a lot of great interviews over the years that I have enjoyed listening to. Take an interest in the industry that you made into your career (or at least an important hobby) and stay on top of news in the publishing world and your genre.
In the past year or so I’ve been lax with listening to podcasts and keeping up with my Clubhouse rooms. When all you want to do is write, it’s tough to find time, especially if you have a day job and kids or other responsibilities. But I have to remind myself I don’t need to listen to all the things or read all the newsletters and blog posts and I only have to listen to one or two every week or skim a couple of newsletters when I empty out my email box. You never know when you’ll hear a nugget of information that will elevate your career to the next level, or maybe you’ll hear something you can pass along to a fellow indie that will help them with their business.
In no particular order, here are my must-haves for 2023. While I don’t listen to every single podcast episode or read every newsletter, I like to subscribe and at least skim the subject lines in my email to make sure I’m not missing information I’m interested in.
Newsletters and blogs I’ve subscribed to:
Jane Friedman’s Electric Speed is great for publishing news. I love all things Jane, and recommend listening to her podcast appearances, reading her blog, and grabbing a copy of her book, The Business of Being a Writer. While you may not think traditional publishing news is worth knowing, what the Big 5 do and the choices they make do affect us. She gives equal time to both trad and indie publishing, and hosts many affordable writing/publishing/marketing classes. I’ve taken some of them, and if you’re not following Jane, you’re missing out. Sign up for her newsletter and blog here: https://www.janefriedman.com/free-newsletter/
Jeffrey Bruner/Fussy Librarian. Fussy Librarian is a paid promo newsletter and I while I haven’t used them yet (planning to next month when my trilogy is released) they have an excellent newsletter full of curated blog articles all in one place. I love skimming their articles and sharing bits on Twitter. You can subscribe here: https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/newswire/for-authors/subscribe. And I will definitely share how my promo does!
Written Word Media. Written Word Media is home to promo newsletters like Freebooksy, Bargainbooksy, and Red Feather Romance. They host a yearly indie survey and blog about publishing trends in marketing. I’ve used their promos to great success (the Freebooksy I paid for in November moved almost 3,000 books and I’m still getting read-through). You may not care about trends, but they are my favorite thing. They tell you what readers are reading, what they’re interested in, and to an indie who wants to find readers, that can be invaluable. You can sign up here: https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/sign-up/
Draft2Digital. I can’t mention them without suggesting you sign up for their blog! While Draft2Digital is used by authors going wide with their ebooks, they still offer lots of information to authors in KU. I love Dan Wood, Kevin Tumlinson and Mark Lefebvre, part of the D2D team. They are doing such great things for indies such as the free ebook/paperback formatting tool that is available even if you don’t use them to publish. What’s fun is both Kevin and Mark are indie authors so they know what indie author life is all about. If you don’t have an account with them, you can bookmark their blog here: https://www.draft2digital.com/blog/
BookBub. Even if you’ve never used their ads before or tried for a BookBub Featured Deal, you probably try to maintain a profile there, maybe even ask readers to follow you. Their author blog is full of marketing advice and if you like making graphics, they show you the best ways to make an impact on readers. I love their blog and I recommend their articles on Twitter frequently. You can sign up here: https://insights.bookbub.com/
Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur has a wealth of information on his blog, and reading all his tips and tricks and using his free tools feels almost illegal. I purchased Publisher Rocket years ago and have never regretted it, but there are a lot of free things he offers too, such as a QR code generator and barcode generator for paperback books. He stays on top of industry news and his blog is a great place to keep up to date. You can sign up here: https://kindlepreneur.com/
Getcovers. You may think this is an odd choice of a newsletter, but being that I create my own covers, their tips are actually a lot of fun to read. I love looking at the covers they create from stock photos and every once in a while I try to duplicate them. If I ever get tired of doing my own, this is where I’ll go, and you can sign up for their newsletter here: https://getcovers.com/blog/
Once you get going with some of these, you’ll find others to sign up for. I also get newsletters from Matthew J Holmes about Amazon Ads, Bryan Cohen about Amazon ads and other industry news items (sign up for his January ads challenge that starts on the 11th and you’ll be added to his email list), Tiffany Yates Martin and her editing blog, Nick Thacker and his curated blog of industry articles, Joanna Penn (more on her later) and her blog and podcast, and David Gaughran who has a wonderful blog and YouTube channel regarding all things indie. That might be a lot, but this industry is a fast business and thing move quickly.
But if you’re like me and like to get stuff done while listening, here are the podcasts and YouTube channels I can’t live without:
Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn. I love all her interviews and the sections she has at the beginning filling us in on what she’s been doing and her Futurist segment are favorites of mine. You can follow on YouTube, and she also will let you know when she has a new episode if you follow her blog. Here’s an interview between her and Jane Friedman I’ve been salivating to listen to. I just need to get my crap together and stop watching Turkish dramas.
Another podcast I love listening to is Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula. One of my most favorite interviews they’ve done is with Melanie Harlow. I think I mentioned her interview before, but if you’re a romance author, definitely devour anything she has to say about writing and craft. She’s phenomenal and you can learn a lot from her and the podcast as a whole.
The last is the Six Figure Authors podcast. While they don’t record regularly anymore, they did record one extra episode since they retired. Their backlist of episodes is evergreen, however, and you can still learn a lot. I refer these two episodes to Twitter people more than any other, though not sure it does much good. Haha.
I love consuming information about the publishing industry. I love being able to help other authors with that knowledge by passing it along via this blog and Twitter when I’m over there. I’m still trying to break the habit, but it’s so easy to scroll and when I clean out my email I schedule tweets with useful blog articles I pick out of all the newsletters I’m subscribed to. Not really sure if it helps anyone, but it doesn’t take long to share and maybe it can help someone, no matter how insignificant.
I have a few things I’ve been doing the past week. I re-edited my novelette I published back in 2016. It was all telling gibberish and it took me a day and a half to pretty much rewrite it. I’m not sure how many felts, saws, wondered, realized, and heards I took out of it, but it’s a lot tighter now and I won’t feel bad
anymore if someone happens upon it. I also added two more short stories I had sitting on my laptop because I didn’t feel right charging .99 for 10,000 words. That would be something I would give away if I were wide, but the best I can do is sell it for as cheaply as I can. I had to rework the other two stories, too, but they sound better. I published one on here a few years ago, and I had to trash the blog post as they are in KU now. The other one I’m going to turn into a series at some point. It’s about an attorney who lives underground a huge city with a certain population who doesn’t mix with people who live above. It’s actually kind of a throwback to Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman’s Beauty and the Beast I grew up watching. There’s something romantic about it, living underground, and I’ve been thinking about a project like that for a very long time. To get the dark vibes I’ll need, toward the end of this year after my other series is finished I’ll read lots of mafia. I want it dark and dirty. I’m showing my age, but I should watch this again. It probably didn’t age well, but it would be interesting too.
I’m still 72k into my rockstar romance. I was distracted by a Turkish drama that my friend Devika recommended on Twitter. It was good, and a craft lesson in writing a dual timeline if you’re interested in that kind of thing. The pacing was phenomenal, and while it didn’t end exactly as I wanted it to, I think all the characters had their HEAs in their own way. If you’re interested in 16 episodes of angst, and who isn’t, look up Love 101 on Netflix. It’s an Original Series, so you won’t find it anywhere else.
I’m going to finish my book this month. I started it in November, so I’m done messing around. My characters want their own HEA and I’m eager to finish a series I started two years ago. I have four books left and that will eat up the rest of my year.
Have a good week, everyone, and listen to Joanna’s interview with Jane! 🙂