1,000 Big Year: Back to storytelling

The last fortnight has been thrilling but spent in the worlds of commerce and crime fiction, so it’s a wrench to get back into the most important work. Here’s a story I tell myself to reorient: “Once upon a time in the land of buffalo, clever people invent energy millions of times more powerful. Can they bottle it? It’s expensive – can cleverness turn it cheap enough? Oh they dream . . .”

2018: Scrabbling back onto the rails

In my experience it doesn’t take much to unscramble one’s determination. Over the last week I’ve been plumbing the dizzy heights and mired depths of self publishing (Deadly Investment, my first crime novel, approaches!). Commissioning professionals to assemble the book’s bits and pieces, trying to think in sales mode, planning detailed steps, all the while struggling with a leg injury . . .  I lapsed. I was laboring hard but all my Big Years momentarily faltered. I got up early but wasn’t drafting my big book (1,000 Big Year). Some hiking, biking, and gym kept me from ossifying but my exercise targets slumped (Freshness Big Year). I even missed a couple of Headspace days (Stillness Big Year). I did keep up the Tractor Big Year research into publishing (in fact that’s all I did). I drank wine and ate chocolate.

Yesterday the usual “why falter” gloom set in but today I’m reassembling my life. Back on track soon . . .

Tractor Big Year: Research is one thing, spending money is another

You read this, Google that, check out what other self publishers do, you take notes . . . daily fun and games, but at some point you move from research to action and then it’s all brand new. Case in point: when self publishing, you need to get a book cover. You can draw it yourself, or buy premade covers out of a catalogue, or you can commission a designer to dream one up for you. The third choice is the best, all your research tells you, because an amateurish cover is a kiss of death, so you roam the Internet for the right cover designer for you. Who has a good reputation? How many $s? Who is available (the best ones get busy pretty damned quick)? All of that is amenable to geeky analysis but one aspect isn’t: who designs beautifully, winningly? You eyeball their website pages with their portfolios of past covers and your stomach lurches. See, you don’t have a visual aesthetic sense at all. What to do? Only one choice: ask those of your friends with design instincts. You give them a choice of two or three and wait for feedback. How nervewracking!

Oh, remember Option 1 above, that of drawing your own cover? Here’s my attempt!

Stillness Big Year: Nick Wignall on meditation

A psychologist in Albuquerque, Nick posts regularly and thoughtfully. Check out https://NickWignall.com. I enjoyed all of “25 Tiny Lessons I’ve Learned from a Daily Mindfulness Meditation Practice” even though he slams both the app-based nature and short duration of my daily Headspace habit. As an example of why I enjoy his musings:

We are what we habitually attend to. Meditation teaches us how to pay attention with purpose, and by extension, live with purpose. Attention is the most important skill no one talks about. And meditation is the best way to cultivate that skill.

(Image adapted from Nick’s.)

Injury unplugs me . . . need to plug in again

I jogged a couple of days ago, not 10 kms as per my Freshness Big Year, not 5 kms as has been a frequent last-resort action, but only 2 kms. And it didn’t work. My right quad muscle is messed up and it’s time to see the physio. In the meantime all my exercise goals are moot and need to be sensibly revised. My other Big Years also flounder, I’m not sure why.

So, with a quarter of 2018 remaining, let me reorient and recommit.

Tractor Big Year: The puzzle of email lists

Day 245 of this Big Year, of daily exploration into how to publish in 2018, and I’ve run out of general topics to pursue. What’s more, I’m moving closer to self publication of the first of my mysteries. My strategic and tactical choices from this moment onwards will have momentous implications, and I’m not ready to make those choices, so today I’m going to tackle a first big decision.

It’s a given that a self published author needs to self promote, to find ways to be “discovered” amongst the millions of ebooks out there. Social media, in particular Facebook, is a powerful discoverability option, but a vigorous school of thought is that an author’s most potent asset is her email list/newsletter. An email list is a group of people who consent to be regularly emailed to. “Grow your list,” is one strand of commonly perceived wisdom. And yet . . . and yet . . . there are authors who eschew emails yet do well, and there are authors who decry emails as “not my style.” What should I do?

As ever, I prod a decision by reading a book. Tammi Labrecque, a multi-genre author, gets plaudits for her US$300 newsletter course (formerly called Email List Expert, now Newsletter Ninja, find this at newsletterninja.net) but the next one won’t run till January, so the next best choice is to read Tammi’s just-published book of the same name.

An hour a day on this book and then I’ll make some big scary decisions. Wish me luck!