2016 In Review – What I learned as an author last year

horror stories calendarI think it’s helpful to assess what you’ve done over the last year – good and bad. It provides you with a way to praise yourself for your successes, but it also provides information on the areas in which you need to improve. This January marks the end of my first full year as an author, judged on when I first sat down and began writing ‘seriously’. As such this is also my first annual review.

The review of last year will naturally lead onto my goals for this coming year, and you will find that bit next week. I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on what I have / haven’t achieved this year as well as any ideas for this coming year.

2016 in review

Achievements

I began writing ‘seriously.’

Although I have been writing on and off over the last twenty years, I really got down to it in about 4 years ago, but I count 2016 as my first as an author. I’m not sure why that’s important, but to me, it is. It marks the first year that I have really given thought to what I’m writing and what for. It also marks the publication of my first novella, Die, Blossom, Bloom (more on that later).

I purchased my own domain, www.authorsteveboseley.com . This felt like a big deal, as I was saying, not just to myself, but also to my friends and the wider world, that this is what I’m doing, and I’m serious about it.

I spent more time writing than ever before, culminating in my first NaNoWriMo attempt and success.

I just ‘feel’ like an author. I don’t have a certificate or anything, but I may make myself one when I’ve finished this post.

Website and Domain

I mentioned this above, but I see this as an important step in that all-important ‘platform building’ process. I spent a lot of time (too much) on selecting the right platform for the website. I eventually settled on Wix. If you’re reading this, you’ll notice that this is a WordPress blog. That’s because WP does blogs so well, and it makes things so easy to follow and be followed. I like the ease of use in designing your web pages on Wix – it is very much a drag-and-drop interface, which WP is not. The compromise I reached, is what you see before you today: the blog lives with WordPress and that is built into my Wix site. I’m happy with that.

However, this became a huge problem over the course of 2016, in that it was a MASSIVE time-sink. I think I almost procrastinated my way though the year, either designing / redesigning the site or worrying that I hadn’t got it quite right. Unfortunately I don’t think I realised this until about August, making my writing year effectively five months. Even now, I can still feel that tickle in the back of my mind that says change me, and you will notice some changes over the course of the year, but that will hopefully only be when I have learned something new that can help my organic traffic (from search engines) or my conversion rate (visitors that perform a desired action on the site).

Organic traffic and Conversion rates

Exciting stuff, right? If you’re an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Ninja, like Jeff Goins , perhaps. If you just want to write fiction and escape into your own imagination, perhaps not. Unfortunately it is one of the weapons available in your arsenal, and if you want to maximise your potential readership, it’s one you need to pull out.

I can’t pretend to be that particular brand of ninja, but I have learned a few bits along the way and continue to do so, which is why you will see the website change from time to time, as a new piece of my knowledge is integrated. If you’ve never come across SEO, let me give you a BRIEF description:

Authors across the net write books that they would like to have people read. Some choose to have a website or a blog (or both). Writing regular content is helpful. Writing Awesome, industry – leading content is more important. But how do people find your website? All the usual ways – guest posting, hanging out on forums, being active on Facebook, etc. That’s all good, but you’d be missing a trick if you didn’t give some thought to SEO. It does exactly what it says on the tin – it optimises your website to make it more visible to search engines. The higher up the Google rankings you are, the more likely it is that an interested punter will land on your website. This is achieved in a number of ways, such as getting the right keywords into the metadata for your page, using <h1> tags on your pages, writing effective alt-text for your images, etc.

I’m not going to pretend any further, I’ll just point you in the direction of a couple of fantastic SEO experts, and strongly suggest you head over there now (I meant when you finish here) and partake of all the amazing info there:

www.backlinko.com

http://goinswriter.com/seo-basics/

Email List

I am fully turned on to the idea that the most effective way to communicate with your readers is email. Not social media. Think about it: if you have followers, any post you make will be visible for a tiny amount of time. If you are 1 of their 1000 followers, they will need to be looking at their feed when you post, or trawl back through the thousands of posts they have missed. With email, at least you will get your subject line read in their inbox. They’re still not forced to read the post, but at least they will have seen it, giving you a chance to attract their attention.

My email list is growing. Slowly, but growing. I have tried several offers as incentives for people to join my list, and I’m sure I will try more. I offer subscribers exclusive offers, such a free access to some of my work, early access to new work, the chance to read and review work for free, amongst other things. That’s what I’m going to continue to do. If you’re interested in getting involved, simply go HERE. I am looking for readers who want to get involved, that want to effect the way I write, effect what I write. If that’s you, let me give you 9k words for you to decide if it’s the right thing for you. I hope it is, and I look forward to seeing you there!

First self-published book

It was a long time coming, but I finally published my first novella, Die, Blossom, Bloom. It’s a dark piece of fiction, telling the story of TED HARRIS, a senior citizen, trying to keep the details of his wife’s death a secret. He is pushed into committing acts he never thought possible in order to keep his secret. The ebook is available everywhere – if you’re looking at Amazon, you’ll see it’s there for £1.99, but let me let you in on a secret – it’s FREE everywhere else. Let’s just keep that our secret. No, actually spread that secret around. All the download options are here: https://books2read.com/u/bOrpzo .  All proceeds from this FREE download will go to me.

Second Published book

My second book, A Sinister Six, will be out of the pre-order period on 1st February (at a cost of just 99p). Most of this work was completed in 2016, which is why it’s in the 2016 review.

It’s a collection of 6 darkly disturbing stories. So if that’s your thing, I invite you to have a look. Purchase links : https://books2read.com/u/mZwgZR

For a FREE bonus, look HERE before 1st February.

 

So that was my year. We are only just into 2017, but I have already made contact with many amazing bloggers, and the future is bright.

Next week I will share with you my plans for the New Year, but I’m really interested in what you think:

  • Have you followed this blog for long?
  • Do you have any favourite bits / features?
  • Is there anything you’d like to see more / less of?

I want 2017 to be the best year so far for all of us, so I’m glad you’re here and I hope we can stick together for 2017!

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