2016 has been one hell of a year. The Western political landscape is more up in the air than it has been in most our lifetimes. Neither the UK nor the US know what their futures hold, and the repercussions of recent events will be felt throughout Europe and across the globe.
But the political landscape isn’t the only thing that’s changed this year.
2016 was the year I published my first book. It was the year I pushed myself so hard I had a break down, and I didn’t realise what I’d done until I had no energy left to function. While I accomplished a lot in the first half of this year, I accomplished very little in the second because I just had no energy left to do anything else. Sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.
That being said, I am proud of what I accomplished this year, both personally and professionally. I’ve learnt a lot, and I can use those lessons to help me move forwards in 2017.
Here are just some of the lessons I’ve learnt in 2016:
Print books and ebooks are formatted VERY differently
Formatting What Happens in New York took longer than I thought it would. I rushed it initially, leading to errors (mostly in copyediting). Since then, I’ve made a few tweaks as I’ve learnt new things and fixed those issues.
Formatting for print is even more complicated when you don’t have a program to do it for you. I use Scrivener, but it’s far from perfect. Even using a program that does it for you it can still be confusing. If you can afford to outsource it, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Seriously. Avoid the aggro.
eBooks are easier to format, but different for every medium
eBooks are far easier to format than print. That being said, they still require a lot of work and time. Time could be spent on other things, such as writing book two…
iBooks doesn’t like pen names
I always wanted to publish on iBooks as I’m a big fan of Apple. However, they do not make it easy for indie authors using pen names. Your publishing account is tied to your Apple ID, and the book will be published under the name your Apple ID is tied to unless you submit documents to them proving otherwise.
Regular posting to social media DOES make a difference
After reading a post on Buffer about increasing Twitter followers, I decided to conduct an experiment.
The post suggests that posting twice a day using two hashtags and an image increases followers.
And it does.
When I stopped following this formula, my followers plummeted.
Caveat: it only works if you’re consistent.
So does regular blogging
Blogging regularly gives your followers something new to read each week or every few days. Even if they’re not a part of your mailing list or your social media, they know when to check back because you’ll have a new post. If you post intermittently, you’re likely to lose them.
It’s also true that the more you post, the more hits you get. I found that hits to the blog increased when I blogged twice a month, but with everything else I had to do, it just wasn’t sustainable.
Running on adrenaline leads to disaster
In the run up to publishing What Happens in New York, I took very little time to myself. I justified it by insisting that I was working on What Happens in New York for myself—which I was—but I wasn’t using it to relax. While I enjoyed what I was doing, it stressed me out further and didn’t help me to switch off. I put so much pressure on myself that once the book was published and our holiday was over, I was so burnt out I could no longer function. I ran out of energy both physically and mentally.
Nothing—I repeat, NOTHING—is worth doing this to yourself.
It’s easy to break a routine but harder to fix it
When we went on holiday to Cyprus in August, I didn’t write much. It was very humid and temperatures were in their mid-thirties, which made concentrating was difficult. I got back into the routine when I got home, but it didn’t last. I was so burnt out I couldn’t focus. I was afraid of writing What Happens in London, and I felt like a hypocrite working on Productivity for Writers because while what I’d accomplished with What Happens in New York was impressive, it wasn’t an example I wanted to set.
I tried to break through the barrier and write again, but for a while I wrote very little.
In the end, I had to admit defeat. I needed to take some time off to relax and recharge.
It helped, and with time, I began to come up with new ideas for What Happens in London—which I wasn’t happy with anyway—and start working on it again. I’m now far happier with it and feel I’m making good progress. Hopefully there’ll be an update in the new year. No promises.
Fear can control us more than we realise
It’s been both a rough year and a great year for me. I’ve published a book, but I was also terrified of doing so. I remember very little of the launch night, and I hope that the launch night for book two will be a very different experience (I also have very different things planned for it 😉 ).
Boyfriend and I went on our first holiday together, something which I both really looked forward to, and was terrified of, as I’ve not been on an aeroplane for 9 years.
I had two blood tests, despite being afraid of needles. I’d put off visiting the doctors about my health problems because I knew they’d send me for another blood test. That’s now four in four years, btw.
I went for an eye test despite being terrified of opticians (anything to do with eyes freaks me out).
I continued to work on What Happens in London despite suffering from the sophomore slump.
I could go on. My point is, it is possible to break through the barrier of fear. Sometimes we need to develop the self-awareness to realise that we’re being controlled by fear first, but doing so is the first hurdle. The second, bigger hurdle, is to overcome those fears. But you can do it.
2016 has been one of the craziest years I have ever experienced. It’s gone super quickly—I can’t believe we’re almost in 2017! I hope that I can use the lessons above to be a better, more productive writer in 2017, and I hope you can too 🙂
What have you learnt in 2016? What lessons will you take away from it to improve your writing life? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!