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The last year, rethinking the Weekly Challenge, and other stuff


You know, I decided to make a bunch of New Year’s resolutions last year, though I did it on a non-traditional date. It just occurred to me today that I haven’t thought about ’em in quite a while. Things happened along the way, I got new ideas…but still. Was I resolved, or wasn’t I? I figure it’s past time to take a look.

  1. “I will not ask for, obsess over, or so much as read any reviews of my books. I’ll appreciate the hell out of them in November, in one giant review-gulp. But not before.”
  2. “I will not check any online ebook sales reports until then. Certainly not on a daily basis…ahem.”
  3. “I will do nothing at all about audiobooks or print versions. I really want to. But not now–I’m busy.”
  4. “I will post absolutely nothing to my Facebook author page or Goodreads (though my blog posts go to both places automagically).”
  5. “I will not blog more than twice a week, and never just to post a status update. Of anything.”
  6. “I will not tweet, or check email, or read/write blogstuff, until my working day is over.”

Well, let’s just skip to the chase: a really, really forgiving person who graded me on all this might give me a C-. Good thing I don’t really think grades or testing are useful!

So here’s what happened:

  1. I guess this one depends on your interpretation. I’ve got boilerplate at the end of my stories & novels that might violate the spirit of it. And I’ve read a few reviews–but I’ve changed my mind on this one. I like to tell people “thank you” these days. ‘Cause, after all, posting a review is a nice thing to do. Also, I’ve discovered I kind of enjoy reading bad reviews too. They don’t depress me the way I thought they might–they entertain me and help me to realize all I can do is write my stuff to the best of my ability. Other people’s reactions are beyond my control. Which is a good thing to remember!
  2. I used to check the sales reports now and again. Now, not so much. I liked a deposit I got a few days ago, but I didn’t know it was coming until I saw it in my bank account. If I knew how to “manage” or increase sales, I might do better to pay attention to them. But I don’t. So…again, this is something beyond my control and I just don’t pay that much attention anymore. (I do want “make a living” money from this sometime, but I don’t expect it to happen soon or easily, so…I’m roughly on track, I guess.)
  3. This one was easy. I guess I’ve learned some stuff about audio and print, and had a conversation or two about doing them in the future. I think they’re both necessary, or nearly, in the long run. But right now they’d just be a distraction. So I’m ignoring them, as planned.
  4. Totally succeeded there. In fact I no longer have a Facebook page, and won’t have one in the future either. I’m ambivalent about Goodreads–it might be a good place for me to introduce myself to potential readers, or it might not. Frankly I don’t have the time, and I don’t think “increasing readership” is a good sort of goal to have anyway: I’m working on improving my writing quality and my writing production. High-quality inventory for the virtual shelves of the future? That’s a goal. I tried posting stuff on Wattpad too, but hardly anybody bit and I’ve quit bothering.
  5. Sometimes I’ve blogged more than twice a week. The “Weekly Challenge” stories definitely had an impact there. But I don’t think it’s been excessive.
  6. Well, this one didn’t work out at all. But I’m more convinced than ever that I produce more (and better) work when I adhere to it. Which spurs some thoughts…

So here’s what else happened:

  1. I did a fun “goofy giveaway” starting on the Summer Solstice, and blog readership rose dramatically.
  2. After that was over I thought about various fun ways to interact with readers, and started the Weekly Challenge. Blog readership continued to climb.
  3. Twitter (my source for most new readers) stopped working very well for me. Blog readership numbers flattened.
  4. I published a bunch of stories, free in non-Amazon places, and included information about the Weekly Challenge at the end of each. Many people have downloaded the stories. Very few have come to the blog as a result. Even fewer have posted a review or gone on to buy any of my for-money stuff. Though…I’m going to be watching Bleed on the Sky closely, ’cause it’s a sequel to Shiver. Could be that people are waiting for that! Or, well, not! {8′>
  5. I got a few sales (thanks!) when I sent out an email to my New Releases mailing list, mainly of the “September” collection. My theory is that people who’d liked my longer stuff also liked the freebies on my site, and wanted more stories. So they bought some. Which was very cool!
  6. Sales have flatlined since that email. On the other hand I haven’t sent out any more of ’em.
  7. Back when I was able to increase this blog’s readership without a lot of effort, I put some thought into setting up subscriptions, and some of you responded positively when I asked whether you’d be interested. I figured it would be fun and I could give everybody a good deal that way, but…well, I’m not getting a flood of new readers to the blog anymore. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pursue it at the moment.

Which is all fine–but it suggests to me that the Weekly Challenge, however fun it may be (which is lots!), is just not helping to pull in new readers. It may or may not be helping me to at least remind readers that I exist between novel releases, which is a good thing. On the other hand, it’s seriously slowed down my new-novel production speed. So…hmm.

I may end up deciding to discontinue the stories in favor of a new challenge involving novels. Or I may succeed with one or another of my weird hippie-dippy attempts to increase my daily word count, and do both at once. I really don’t know, and my office situation will be in flux for another couple of weeks until we move out of our hotel suite, so I’m not going to make that decision yet.

Even more drastic: I may not actually publish the novels for a while. If nothing matters without a backlog of titles, and places like Amazon give new novels a push, and each new novel pumps up the sales of the others…well. Does it make sense to hold off and publish six at once? Maybe! Lest you be concerned about the immediate impact of this notion: I have two novels I plan to publish sometime between Christmas & the generally accepted date for the New Year (The Secret and Bleed on the Sky), and it’ll be interesting to watch how they do.

The last year has obviously been a lot of fun. I’m having a ball, and I especially love the “weekly” requirement. I just think…maybe nothing else I do as a writer matters much (financially) unless I can get novels moving through my keyboard. And a backlog of material for new people to read would obviously make any future efforts to pull people in more…well…lucrative. ‘Cause they’d have more stuff to buy. So from a business perspective: maybe I should just write for a while.

It’s weird to talk about making money this way. I mean, I like money. But it’s so far from being the reason I write! It’s just…I guess I have a conviction that I’m not a “real” writer until I’m paying all the bills with it. Which has little to no historical justification behind it. But it’s a thing for me, and I ain’t letting go of it anytime soon. I don’t even want to let go. Instead, I’ll figure out how to make it happen, while still having fun, and ideally writing stuff you guys will enjoy reading will figure in there somewhere too! {8′>

So we’ll see. How do I write more, and hang out with those of you who correspond with me, and turn this into a successful career? My gut says this: I just keep plugging away, trying to get better as I go. So, for now? That’s my plan!

As for you? Here’s your part: have fun out there.

Published inComing SoonPersonalPublishing


  1. ShellB

    I’m sticking with you wherever I need to go to read your awesome stories at whatever time they are released and will gladly pay money for them because the enjoyment derived is worth every penny 🙂 I’ll keep having fun as long you keep having fun out there!

  2. Interesting thoughts, some I have had to varying degree. Don’t worry about talking money; that is the business of this, just not the passion. The experimentations, the ideas, the marketing, the tests, the decisions…. We can all learn from your experience, just like JAKonrath’s “Newbie Writers” blog. It’s a wealth of info, and it is good to experience varying POV.

    I do not recall which media outlet I found you–not FB; I abhor the distracting but seemingly necessary media outlet–but I am glad I did. Your weekly challenge is intriguing. I enjoy that. If I may suggest a compromise…perhaps a “Monthly/whatever” story challenge, maybe chapters of a novel, saving the last chapter(s) for book publication.

    I guess all depends on your goal, something that can change overnight or over years. As long as you have fun….

    • David

      Thanks for commenting!

      I’ve been thinking of a monthly challenge, and trying to come up with one that includes stories and (at least) chapters from novels. I’m sure there’s a good idea out there somewhere. I just need to hunt it down. I’m letting other stuff distract me more than I’d like lately (post to follow in a few minutes), but I think those issues will be resolved fairly soon.

      Fortunately having fun is easy, at least when it comes to the actual writing. {8’>

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