Friday, January 1, 2021

A look ahead to 2021

As a writer, I always find it hard to set concrete goals for the year. A story idea that excites me now may not excite me three months from now, when I finally have time to work on it. 

And then there are the vagaries of the publishing world. So much of what we decide to write depends on what we've been able to sell. 

So I'm a little torn about this coming year. I have some ideas what I want to accomplish, but I have no doubt most of those goals will change before the year is half over.

But having some goals are better than having no goals. So consider these a snapshot of where I am today--and nothing more.

My new year's goals

1) Sell a middle-grade novel series

My agent is pitching two of mine right now: The Enchanted Bookshop and Edison Young. 

If I sell either one, then I'm going to be VERY busy. Publishers want to have the next few books in the pipeline before they launch the series in case the first one's a hit. And although I've mapped out where I want those series to go, I've only just begun the next book in each series.

2) Write the first book in a third middle-grade novel series

If I don't sell either series, then I'm going to need something else for my agent to pitch. That's why I'm currently adapting another play of mine as a novel (actually more like a chapter book).

Which one? None other than Wicked Is As Wicked Does. Although it hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped, I love the characters, and the story hints at a whole post-fairy tale world that would naturally lend itself to a series.

That title, though, is a little long. So I'm just going to name the series The Wickeds, and give a more detailed title to each book.

3) Write another school play

Plays are what launched my publishing career, and some of them are doing very well so I'd like to keep that going.

But which play? Well, I've got an idea I've playing around with for a few years, and it may finally be time to put it to paper. I don't want to give any details yet (nothing sabotages your excitement for a new work like talking about it), but I hope to share some once I get the first draft written.

4) Buy all my books from independent bookstores

This goal has nothing to do with my writing career. But it does have something to do with the community I want to be a part of.

Book publishers have actually done pretty well during the pandemic. But bookstores have not--independent bookstores even less. People stuck at home have found it all too easy to buy their books from Amazon and have them show up at their doorsteps a day or two later.

But that's not the way to promote a vibrant literary community.

The east valley of Phoenix, where I live, has a wonderful independent bookstore in Tempe, called Changing Hands Bookstore. They promote local authors, hold writing classes, sponsor book clubs--all the things needed to keep a literary community alive. They've also adapted to the pandemic pretty well, shifting over to contactless curbside service for those not ready to venture into the store itself. 

Now I love Amazon as much as the next guy. And I have to admit I bought way too many books from them last year.

But no longer. This year I'm going to buy 100% of my books from Changing Hands or, if I decide to go used, from one of the many independent bookstores on Alibris (they need love too!).

Summing up

I think that's enough goals for this year. Like I said, I'm sure they'll change as the year progresses. But at least I have a plan for now. Something to shoot for. Something to keep me going when the going gets tough.

After all, you don't have to reach your goals to be successful. You just have to keep reaching.