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2019 Year in Review

The highlights and challenges of my indie author year

2019, it’s been memorable. 2020, watch out!

Once again, a year flew by even faster than the one before it. I guess this is the snowball effect of life. My children were tiny and adorable scallywags just the blink of an eye ago, and now the youngest one is about to head off to college. Before I digress into an essay about empty nest syndrome, I’ll pivot back to 2019 from my indie author perspective.

First, it was a huge accomplishment to publish the final book in the Miramonde Series this year. I’m grateful and thrilled that the entire trilogy is out in the world. I learned so much along the way, not only about writing historical fiction but about publishing and marketing it. There’s still lots to learn, but I’m feeling much more confident about the process now.

I’m also very happy that I got an International BookBub deal for Book 1 in the series, The Girl from Oto, in September. I sold about 1,000 copies of the book in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and India thanks to the deal, and I’m seeing read-through of the other books in the series as a result. Also, I’m finally getting a toehold on platforms like Kobo and Apple Books because of the deal.

A big highlight of the year was a family trip to France and Spain this summer, when I dove into research for my next historical mystery/thriller series and started visualizing the settings and storyline for my artist heroine. There will be lots of swashbuckling, seafaring, and treasure-hunting in store for her, with a good dose of romance, intrigue, and danger thrown in along the way.

I started running Facebook ads again after a long hiatus and I’m seeing encouraging results. I credit the advice in Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course and in Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10K Readers course for helping me create ads that get positive ROI. My first foray into BookBub ads was excellent, too. I studied David Gaughran’s book ‘BookBub Ads Expert’ and copied his approach to a T. When it comes to advertising, which I know very little about, I try to emulate strategies that have worked for others (down to copying their ad design/layout) instead of reinventing the wheel. (And no, I don’t get affiliate kickbacks from any of these guys for recommending their stuff. Although there are a couple of Amazon links in this article to my own books that are affiliate links. Full disclosure.)

But wait! There’s more to this 2019 story…

Writing/publishing: In addition to publishing Book 3 in the Miramonde trilogy, A Place in the World, I also wrote a collection of three short stories related to the series (The Memory Keeper, A Bold Beginning, and Gift of Gold). My newsletter subscribers get the stories for free. If you want in, subscribe to my newsletter here and you’ll get The Memory Keeper on Jan. 2.  Finally, I worked with my formatter to create a digital boxset of the Miramonde Trilogy, which is available at all the major online platforms. And—phew—that is a wrap for the Miramonde Series.

Marketing/advertising: My tasks included writing blog posts for my own blog and for other historical fiction blogs (aka content marketing); promoting my own work and the work of others on social media; setting up and running ads on Facebook and BookBub (Ironically, Amazon AMS ads, which blazed a bright path of sales for me in 2017, have become increasingly expensive/frustrating to use in the past two years and I’m not using them at all right now.) I also planned and ran discount promotions of my books (most notably in 2019 the International BookBub deal I got for The Girl from Oto; here’s the blog post I wrote about it); and created ads and social media designs with BookBrush (which I love).

Behind the scenes stuff. This is the nuts and bolts of an author business, stuff that’s very important, time consuming, and not glamorous. Things like: working with my cover designer and interior formatter to fix typos in my books and republish them, and update covers/create new covers. Creating a new system to track expenses and income (I’m waffling between Wave software and Google Sheets). Then there’s the across-the-board updates to all the online platforms as well as Ingram Spark for paperbacks whenever I need to change metadata (book descriptions, review snippets, etc.) Finally, I wrote newsletters and planned joint giveaways/promotions with other authors (“newsletter swaps”).

2019, that’s a wrap. 2020, what you got on tap?

Yes, I’m pretty pleased with that header. It just came out of nowhere. But I digress. In 2020, I plan to continue content marketing and I’m going to double down on Facebook and BookBub ads. I’m also going to try for a domestic BookBub deal.

My first big behind the scenes task for 2020 will be transferring my newsletter provider from MailChimp to Mailerlite and setting up an auto-responder onboarding sequence for new subscribers. I’ve been putting it off for months. It will involve lots of left-brain, linear thinking. Like so: “If A, then B. If C, then D.” Not my strong suit.

The absolute best part of my author year in 2020 will be researching, outlining, and writing my next series. My research began in earnest earlier this month. I just picked up a stack of books from Interlibrary Loan, plus I purchased a few others that I believe will be indispensable to my series.In 2020 I’ll be reading all of this stuff and distilling it into fodder for my storyline and characters, then writing outlines for the series, then writing the first drafts. My goal is to write all of the books at once instead of publishing one, writing another, publishing the second, writing the third, and so on. I should probably alert my editor…

Staying healthy is critical to longevity as an author. I’ve struggled this year with neck and shoulder pain that seems to be exacerbated by long periods standing or sitting in front of the computer. Working from home is something I cherish but it can be isolating. Currently I feel connected to lots of author folks online, which is wonderful, but I’m feeling the need for real-time meet-ups.

To that end, in 2020 I’ll do more dictation to get away from the computer, and be vigilant about stretching, exercise breaks, and dates with my styrofoam roller. When the empty nest rolls around, I’m going to take advantage of that by going to a writing conference or two, and possibly a writers’ retreat.

Good luck with your own goals and dreams for the new year. I’ll be rooting for you.

 

2 Comments

  1. Marilyn Bolgioni says:

    Amy – I was waiting for the “empty nest stuff”. But nothing much! Good for you! You focus on the positive – explaining what you have done and what you hope to accomplish! You are amazing in my book!
    I must catch up with your work – maybe throw some hints out there for Dawn regarding my Christmas presents this year! LOL!
    Keep up the good work and the great writing that you do so well!
    Marilyn B.

    1. Amy Maroney says:

      Hi Marilyn,
      Thanks so much, I am glowing! Have a lovely holiday season. Enjoy those amazing girls! I hope to see you in 2020.

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