I have this thing that I do each year, I label the next year:
- 2013 - The Year of Transition. Crossing over into being a full-time writer. It was a leap of faith, deeply motivated by my inability to find a job at the tail of the recession.
- 2014 - The Year of Production. It probably should have been named the year of terror. My hybrid writing career was taking off, but would it be fast enough? We'd made a huge gamble, dumping a large portion of our savings into giving me a shot at a writing career. Thanks to the faith of my wife. It paid off in 2015.
- 2015 - The Year of More Production. But I'll also call it the year of relief. We paid back our savings account.
- 2016 - The Year of Transition. A different transition this time: from hybird to full indie. Could I make it on my own? Well, the numbers of my prior three years spelled that out clearly: ~70% of my writing time went to my traditional books, but they accounted for just 17% of my income. Still there were doubts. Were my indie books held up by my traditional ones? 2017 would answer that with a resounding NO. My indie income grew, despite having to abandon most of the money-making series snarled up in my traditional publications.
- 2017 - The Year of Marketing. At least that's what I labeled it at first. Except it didn't really work out that way. Instead, it turned out to be The Year of What's New. For the first time in a decade, I attended two national conferences as well as a pair of UnCons (top writers getting together and just talking business for a few days). That was on top of my normal networking, co-teaching a week-long Master Class on the Oregon Coast, hiring a consult or two, and four or five other events. Let's just say that my thinking evolved immensely.
So, here I sit with 150 published works (and 2 more due this month): 54 novels, 57 short stories, collections, 23 titles also released in "sweet" versions, and 10 titles in audio (with more coming soon). This doesn't count third-party bundles which number around a dozen.
Here are two particularly cool ones running at the moment:
An amazing Christmas Bundle of novels and three anthologies:
And an awesome collection edited by Blaze Ward:
- Focus 2016 version: That was the year I tried to do everything. I released an entire small-town contemporary series set on the Oregon Coast. (http://www.mlbuchman.com/eagle-cove/) as well as novels in four different series:
- Night Stalkers
- Night Stalkers White House
- Delta Force
- Might have thrown in a little science fiction while I was at it.
- A few collections.
- The 13 short stories that year covered 9 different series across 4 different genres.
- Focus 2017: I narrowed that down and will continue to do that even more. I'm going to stop supporting the series that my traditional publisher still controls, because every time I write a story in those series, I make them more money, but not me. Am I abandoning my fans? Not even close. Focus is essential in order not to confuse your fans. See my next point for why.
- The Fan Guide: No, it's not a book on how to get more fans. It's using them as a guide. What are they drawn to in my writing? What is less successful? What may sell a little less at the moment, but gets me an overwhelming fan mail response? This is any writer's single most important (and perhaps underutilized resource). I've started working very hard on thinking about my fans, much more than I did a year ago.
- The Importance of Estate Planning: I started in on this one as a way to help my wife and kid better understand what they'd inherit someday. By the time I was done, I think this may be the most important work I've ever done for them. Intellectual Property belongs to me and my heirs until 70 years after my death. If poorly managed, it will equal zero (or soon enough). However, well managed, it could be supporting my great-grandchildren, even though my kid isn't even married yet.
- Key elements include:
- Organizing it.
- Protecting it.
- Explaining it so that my heirs can understand it (even if they aren't publishing professionals).
- Setting them up for success (which is far more in my control than theirs.
- To this end:
- I wrote a book. Estate Planning for Authors: Your Final Letter (and why you need to write it now)! http://www.mlbuchman.com/books/estate-planning-for-authors/
- I presented it at a variety of conferences.
- I even made it into an online course: https://mlbuchman.teachable.com/
- I've spoken on a variety of podcasts about it and there will be more:
- The importance of having fun. I somehow had lost sight of this one. Because, trust me, if I'm not having fun while I'm writing, my fans won't have fun while their reading. That's why on December 30th, I'm launching a brand new series called The White House Protection Force. It's the most fun I've had writing in quite a while! Sign up for my newsletter to make sure you don't miss it: www.mlbuchman.com/newsletter
I'm thinking of calling 2018 The Year of Fun!
M.L. Buchman started the first of over 50 novels and as many short stories while flying from South Korea to ride across the Australian Outback. All part of a solo around-the-world bicycle trip (a mid-life crisis on wheels) that ultimately launched his writing career.
Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.