2021 in Review

It’s the new year, and I’m easing myself back into work mode. The work I’m doing now is mostly thinking rather than sitting at the computer and coming up with words, so it’s perfect for this time of year, when I really just want to huddle under the electric blanket on the sofa and doze. I can do that and plan a book.

When I’ve ventured out of my blanket cocoon, I’ve been doing some record keeping and analysis of last year to help me with my business planning for next year. It was a pretty productive year, writing and publishing-wise. I got four books out, wrote two of them entirely during the year and revised/edited one and proofed one. I also wrote a novelette for an upcoming project and did a lot of development work on some things that I hope to write this year. I spent less time writing than I did the year before, but was still pretty productive, so I’m happy with that.

Financially, it was one of my better years in a long time, but most of that came from older projects and traditional publishing. I got some foreign sales and royalties and some other subsidiary rights sales. The new projects were barely a blip. The new mystery series isn’t making that much money. If I only look at those sales and how much time I’ve spent working on those books, I’d have done better if I’d gone to work at the grocery store. However, since that work has been done, as the books continue to sell that hourly “wage” will continue to rise. I’m going to try doing some promo things and see if I can boost those books a bit before I decide where to go with that series. I don’t think the problem is that people don’t like them because the sell-through is pretty good. People who read one book tend to go on to read the rest. The trick is to get people to read the first book.

That’s actually the issue with all my books. Once people read the first book, they tend to read the whole series. I just don’t have that many people reading the first book. The first Enchanted, Inc. book is nearly 17 years old, and people are still just now hearing about it. In a way, that’s good because it means I have a steady stream of income from books I wrote ages ago. But it also means that these books have been flying under the radar. Most of my income still comes from that series rather than from anything new I write.

And that makes it tricky to figure out what to write next. I’m not that interested in writing more Enchanted, Inc. stuff right now. In general, I haven’t been into contemporary-set books for the past year or so. I’ve been almost entirely reading secondary-world fantasy — stories taking place in imaginary worlds. And that’s what I really want to write. That’s what made me fall in love with fantasy fiction and want to be a writer in the first place. It may be a bit of a leap to go from my contemporary fantasy/romantic comedy stuff to imaginary world storybook kind of stuff, but that’s where my brain is right now, and trying to force myself into something else just led to some massive burnout.

And thus the huddling under a blanket and creating an imaginary world. I’ll do some promo to see if I can boost the sales of books I’ve already written while I play with this idea and see where it takes me. That’s my plan for at least the early part of the year. I’ve reached the point where this world is starting to take shape and solidify, and I need to start filling in the specifics. Then I’ll flesh out the characters who have been forming in my head, and from there I can start plotting.

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