Hits, Misses, and Challenges

It’s the beginning of a new quarter. Time to review the hits, misses, and challenges of my intentions for the last quarter. And as everyone knows, the last month of the last quarter was a doozy. This whole first quarter challenged me in unexpected ways. 

image of an open journal with a black pen lying on the page--I keep a journal so I can record hits, misses, and challenges--do you?

1st Quarter Intentions

If you recall from my post describing intentions, I make a list of intentions for four areas: Making, Managing, Marketing, and Home. At the end of each quarter I review my intentions so I know what my hits, misses, and challenges were. So you can follow my analysis, here’s my list of intentions for the first quarter of 2020.

Make: 

  • Resolve problems with the first half of my WIP. 
  • Finish the first draft. 
  • Blog three times a week. 
  • Publish three monthly newsletters.

Manage

  • Change to a different email service.
  • Finish an online copywriting class.
  • Read a book once a month.
  • Make regular Social Media posts.

Market

  • Complete a second class on Amazon ads.
  • Get new covers for My Soul to Keep and Fellowship. 
  • Print new bookmarks.
  • Increase the size of my mailing list.

Home

  • Bring my husband home from the rehab center.
  • Rearrange the bedroom to make it more caregiver friendly.
  • Prepare a garage sale.

1st Quarter Hits

Make: 

  • I figured out the problems with my manuscript and have made some forward progress. It’s fun to write again, and I am pleased with the work I have done to this point. I think my readers will enjoy this next book.
  • I blogged three times a week. Frequently I wrote the blog on the day I posted it, but each of them were posted before my noon cut off time. I count that as a win.
  • I published on newsletter and have another one that will go out next week.

Manage: 

I signed up for a new mail service.

Market

  • The second ads class was amazing. It taught me many things.
  • I’ve selected my new cover artist.
  • Many thanks to the Voracious Readers who joined my mailing list this quarter. I deeply appreciate the reviews you gave My Soul to Keep.

Home

  • My husband came home from the rehab center at the end of January.
  • The bedroom got rearranged. And it is more caregiver friendly.

1st Quarter Challenges

Being able to bring my husband home again was a joy and a lot of work. I did not anticipate how much his care needs had increased. And the sheer number of doctor’s appointments and home health appointments alone were a challenge. It was difficult to find the time and the energy to write. About the time I finally found a rhythm that allowed more writing time, COVID-19 became my next major distraction.

Fortunately, my family and friends are all safe and self-quarantined. Some are essential workers though, and while they are being careful, they are in harm’s way.

1st Quarter Misses

Make:

  • Completing the first draft of the novel was a big miss.
  • The newsletter was a partial hit in that I got one out.

Manage

  • Learning how to move my blog post emails and newsletter to a different email service has been postponed. 
  • I did not finish the online copywriting class.
  • Reading took a big hit. I started one book and still have not finished it.
  • Make regular Social Media posts also is a miss. Writing comes first, so this one I consider a lesser miss. (If that makes any sense.)

Market

  • It took a lot of studying dystopian novel covers, deciding what I liked and didn’t like, and lots of discussion with a dear friend before I knew what I wanted. So no new covers yet. But they will be awesome.
  • Printing new bookmarks obviously must wait on the new covers.

Home

The preparation for a garage sale has stalled. It’s hard to be motivated to prepare for something when the date is nebulous.

Second Quarter Intentions

Image of a bulletin board with a yellow post it that reads "make things happen"

Since I missed many of my intentions for the first quarter and life is uncertain now, I’m scaling back a bit.

Make: 

  • Finish the first draft of If I Should Die.
  • Blog two-to-three times a week.
  • Produce a monthly newsletter.

Manage: 

  • Work with the new cover artist and have at least one new cover by the end of the quarter.
  • Learn the new email service.

Market:

I will await new covers before I attempt to make new intentions for marketing.

Home: 

Once a month I will remove one bag of items we wish to donate. 

Hits, Misses, and New Opportunities

For me, reviewing what I’ve accomplished helps me keep things in perspective. It also helps me learn where I spent most of my energy. That knowledge helps me adjust, if needed, so I can set intentions that are reasonable. 

Want to learn more about intentions? Read Orna Ross’s posts.

Not everyone uses the same method to track what they want to do and what they accomplish. There are many roads to reach your destination. And I’m fascinated by the different methods people use. Do you set intentions or goals each month? Do you track your progress? And do you assess what your hits, misses, and challenges? If you don’t, how do you recognize new opportunities and set your intentions for the next month? Whatever your process is, I wish you the best for your work, your play, and your health.

A Difficult Week That Isn’t So Bad

My writing life has been busy. Marketing, last minute publishing snafus, outlining, planning, my list of things to do is unending. My personal life has been busy, too. This has been a difficult week that isn’t so bad.

photo of a rainbow in a cloudy sky--a symbol of a difficult week that isn't so bad

The Good

Much of the week was good. I finished creating bookmarks, images for ads, prizes for an online launch party, approved back covers, loaded paperback books into various software programs, and prepared twitter and Facebook posts. It was part of my difficult week but a planned part of launching my new book. Fellowship went live on Monday–on Amazon and a few other sites. Apple and a few other sites had delays but are up now. Sales are slow, but trickling in. (If you’d like to attend my online launch party see the post on my Facebook page.)

Book two for the My Soul to Keep series is in the final planning stages. Writing will begin next week.

I started planning two very different non-fiction books.

My weekly visit from my grandson was full of play and reading aloud and fun. I love that he brings me books he wants to read to me. This week, I read the first chapter of Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle to him.

It’s getting very close to the day when my new grandson will be born. And I’ll end the week at a baby shower celebrating with my son and daughter-in-law.

The Challenges

The Challenges during this difficult week were many. Some came in the form of three medical appointments for my husband and new medical issues.

An inkjet printer failure had me YouTubing information, then digging into the interior of the printer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fix it. (It was almost fifteen years old.)

Removing the no longer functioning printer wound up spurring me to rearrange a few shelves. Half-an-hour tops, I thought. Ha! A broken shelf spud and two hours later I finished.

After that I spent a little time setting up a new printer.

Plotting on my plot board by the light of the gray sky through my dining room windows--it's been a difficult week.

On Wednesday, there was a powerful wind and rain storm that knocked out power out for an hour. Writing during that power outage meant taking my plotting board into another room and working by candle light for a short while. The storm also knocked down a lot of tree branches. That meant I had an unscheduled half-day raking and bagging and cutting up branches to clear the lawn so it could be mowed. 

A photo of a large branch with dead leaves lying on the ground after the storm during a difficult week.
The storms are keeping my tree man from being able to trim this tree. With luck, he might be able to get to it next week.

The Result

I’m exhausted and distracted and happy and frustrated and wishing I were twenty people instead of one. Lol This is the life of a self-published author. Writing is only half the job. It’s got to be done or none of the rest of it matters. The writing is what I love doing. I even love the editing phase. Marketing is something new and foreign to me (so it takes me three times as long as it will when I get more practiced.) And life goes on no matter what. There are still all the mundane details of daily life that need some attention. This is no more difficult than any self-employment endeavor. But this writing gig fills my soul in such a way that even this difficult week isn’t so bad. 

Speak Up Readers, What do you think?

During my leave of absence from the blog, I have finally finished a non-writing project that had been on hold while I launched my website and blog. And during the past two weeks, I have continued reading contributions from my favorite bloggers. Recently The Passive Voice posted part of a guest on Publishing Perspectives. It was a post by Jennifer Belle called “I Paid Them to Read My Book.” I’m snipping a bit to run here so I can ask you, speak up readers, what do you think?

“I Paid Them to Read My Book”: Jennifer Belle’s “The Laughter Project” Pays Dividends
August 2, 2010

By Jennifer Belle

• Author Jennifer Belle took her book publicity into her own hands by hiring actresses “to read my book on the subway and at New York City landmarks for $8/hr”

• Jennifer and her story of the publicity stunt ended up in the New York Times, the NY Post, on author blogs and on Judith Regan’s Sirius radio show.

A few weeks ago, going up in my elevator, a neighbor said to me, “I just saw someone in Washington Square Park reading your book!” She was very excited.

“I know,” I said. “I paid her to do it.”

My neighbor laughed. “No you didn’t.”

“I did,” I said. But she didn’t believe me.

Many years ago, I read an article about professional funeral wailers in China. In China, and in many countries, when a loved one died, you hired people to sit in the back and cry—sob, weep, bellow, really, really grieve the way only a stranger or someone who is being paid can—or it just wasn’t considered a good funeral. And it didn’t mean you weren’t sad yourself, it was just for reinforcement. So for years I joked with my writer friends that one day, if I got desperate enough, I would hire people to read my book on the subway and laugh.

Read more at I Paid Them to Read My Book.

Or you can visit Jennifer’s website here.

Two-edged Sword

Marketing of any product is a two-edged sword. Currently, there is an ad running on television where various characters start screaming at seemingly innocuous coupons and sales signs. So far, that ad has turned me completely away. I don’t want to see or hear another screamer. But what if that person were laughing infectiously? Laughter always gets my attention. I love a good laugh. So, if I saw someone laughing joyously as they read a book, I would make a mental note, must be a funny book. I might even go to a bookstore and check out the book to see if I wanted to read it. But if I later learned that the author had paid actresses to pretend to enjoy the book how would I feel? Frankly, I don’t know. It might depend upon whether I bought the book and enjoyed it. If I found it funny, I might feel the unique advertising campaign equally funny. But if I found the book lacking, I think I’d be a bit miffed if not downright angry. Readers speak up. What do you think?

Location, Location?

I’m in the mid-west as opposed to the east or west coast. Does that affect how well or poorly this type of marketing would go over? You bet. The availability of talent, and the cost of said talent, and the places where people would notice paid readers is quite different here.

Do I think I’d ever do such a marketing campaign? I really don’t know. I’m not one to rule it completely out, but it feels less than genuine to me. My husband who has been an art consultant in the advertising fields for many years isn’t as bothered by this as I am.

Speak Up Readers

So, my question to you readers and writers out there: What do you think? Was this good marketing? Or is this a turn-off? Speak up readers, what do you think?