I just finished by year-in-review exercise and realized 2023 was pretty damn good for me. That alone made the exercise worthwhile. It's easy to focus on the negative, but there were a lot of positives to be grateful for. And gratitude is a very good thing.
That said, I also learned a few lessons which I intend to carry forward into the new year.
Publishing a book a month was too much for me. It turned the process into a grind and burned me out. BUT, it also pushed me up the Amazon ranks and increased sales, which, let's face it, was nice. I became a writer because I love to write, but I'm not a trust-fund baby and need to make a living too. So in 2024 I'm going to try to publish something every six weeks and see how that works.
I've been hesitant to call myself an artist, but my best writing comes out of writing what's fun and interesting rather than focusing on how much I think it will sell, i.e., when I take an artist's mentality to the work. I think I need to figure out a way to play more and ease up and bring more of an artist's mentality to the writing, while maintaining a business sense when it comes to selling the books. To the former, I've gone a little wild with my new Mystery School series. It's got a similar aesthetic to my Doyle Witch series, but I've made it more interactive and magical and wyrd. It's even got its own UnTarot deck, and the Kickstarter for a paper deck launches February 14th. To the latter business side, I'm going to start selling direct to North American customers in 2024. (Nothing against the EU, but I don't want to have to deal with VAT - maybe my brain will be able to handle that in 2025). I plan to offer people who buy direct extra content, so watch for that if you think it's something you'd be interested in.
I realized that genre fiction is getting more and more generic, with writers doing what other writers are doing to try to sell more books. This is happening in both the trad pub and indie worlds. I think AI will speed that process. And I think this growing "sameness" is a mistake. I think it's a mistake for writers, because it leads to a lack of creativity and differentiation in the market. And I think it's a mistake for society at large, because it dulls everyone's brains. We need new inputs to spark creativity--and I'm not just talking about writing or the arts. I'm not saying people shouldn't read and enjoy generic genre fiction or movies. I'm just saying I think something is lost when that's all there is, and I don't want to be a part of that trend. So I'm going to stop comparing myself to other writers and listening to the "write to market" or "do X to sell more books" crowd. It's just not me.
Hm. I guess that turned more into a rambling rant than a lessons-learned piece. And I've probably ranted about point #3 before. But it ties in with points 1 and 2, and I'm still considering the ramifications.
Anyway, for my writing, you can expect a Paranormal Museum novella set in Sicily for February 14th, the first book in the Mystery School series on April 30th, more Tea and Tarot, more Mystery School, and a Riga Hayworth short for Halloween!
We'll see what else 2024 brings. I wish hope, happiness, and the best for you in the new year!