January is one of my favourite times of the year. It's a time for renewal and for reflecting on what worked and didn't work during the previous year.
So in this 2018 annual review, I will share with you what worked for me during 2018, what didn't work and what I'm going to focus on during 2019.
Hopefully you can use some of my lessons to build authority this year and earn more from your writing.
What I Published During 2018
I spent the first part of 2018 republishing some of my books in different formats.
First, I compiled books that I wrote during 2015, 2016 and 2017 into a box set of books about writing that I released in April.
Then, inspired by this advice from Joanna Penn, I also republished some of my print books in different sizes and at different price points.
For example, I published a large print version of The Power of Creativity, and I'm in the final stages of publishing a large print version of this box set.
This approach enables me to offer more books to readers in formats that suit them and at different price points. It's also helped me dramatically increase my income from book sales.
I started writing these articles in February and began publishing them in May of last year.
Occasionally, I also re-publish some of these articles after a week or so on other platforms like Medium, usually changing the headline or introduction.
During the summer of 2018, I worked with a professional narrator, whom I found via ACX (The Audible marketplace for narrators and authors), to create an audiobook of The Power of Creativity.
During 2017, I narrated an audiobook version of The Art of Writing a Non-Fiction Book, and I found this process enjoyable if very time-consuming.
Although it was more expensive to work with a narrator, I was happy with the results and would consider using ACX again.
Finally after much procrastinating, I launched a podcast.
I used Anchor.FM, an app for new podcasters, to launch this with no investment. It’s useful for those who want to start a podcast with a minimal budget. You can use Anchor.FM to distribute your show everywhere from Spotify to Stitcher to iTunes.
You can even use your phone to record episodes, although I rely on a podcasting microphone and headset.
Typically, I record short episodes and share practical non-fiction writing tips, advice or lessons. Sometimes I interview the authors of popular non-fiction books.
Then I turn extracts from these interviews into articles for Forbes too.
My intention is to focus more on podcasting during 2019. So far it's proved a great way of both connecting with people I admire and as a means of experimenting with different formats.
What's Worked During 2018
In previous years, I was disappointed by the revenue generated from my book sales.
This year, I concentrated on Amazon ads, and I was pleasantly surprised to watch sales of my Kindle, print and audiobooks grow.
What's more, I don't spend more than two hours a week on Amazon ads. I find them easier to set up and analyse than Facebook ads. They are cheaper too. This advertising platform is also becoming a more powerful tool for authors as it matures.
It's easier to sell books using Amazon ads because customers are already in a buying frame of mind, compared with Facebook users.
My intention is to continue running Amazon ads during 2019. If you're a non-fiction writer with a book or somebody who wants to build authority, I highly recommend using Amazon ads.
In 2018, Amazon announced the closure of CreateSpace and improved its print book publishing tools. If you've written a digital book, consider self-publishing a print version, as this is a great way to increase your book sales without writing anything new.
I still use many of the same writing apps I've written about before. For example, IA Writer is useful for short form articles, while Scrivener is ideal for book chapters and so on..
I use Vellum to compile my books for print and Kindle and check my articles for mistakes using Grammarly. I also manage my work and collaborate with others using Trello.
As for Become a Writer Today, I still rely on WordPress and used Thrive Leads to grow my email list to approximately 10,000 subscribers.
During 2018, I read or listened to approximately 60 books and audiobooks. Five of the best include:
- When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink (podcast interview with Daniel coming soon)
- Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (listen to my interview with James)
- Clockwork: Design Your Business To Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz (great if you want to learn about outsourcing)
- Stoner by John Williams (a novel I read on holidays in Donegal. It’s good to escape with fiction!)
- The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want by Elaine Pofeldt (interview with Elaine coming soon)
What Didn't Work During 2018
In the past, I've written about how I've used Facebook ads to grow my email list and sell books, courses and affiliate products.
I continued to use Facebook ads during 2018. But my ads became more expensive, and I spent more time looking at Facebook analytics, leaving me less time for writing.
So I decided to pause Facebook ads for the medium-term until I finish the manuscript of my next book. To be clear, I'm still using ads to sell my books, just not Facebook ads.
During 2018, I also stopped tracking my daily word count.
This form of self quantification is useful when you are writing a first draft and just want to get the words out. However, it's not much help when self-editing, refining your ideas or researching a non-fiction article or book.
Still, I wasn't holding myself to account. So during 2019, I will track the volume of published articles and other forms of writing. Read more about how I set writing goals.
The first course teaches students how to write a non-fiction book, and the second is a membership site.
Members of the club told me content was general and covered many different topics. For example, I explain how to sell books using Amazon ads, write popular non-fiction articles and so on.
So in 2019, I will review The Savvy Non-Fiction Writer’s Club and instead offer more specific, shorter courses at a different price point.
My Plans for 2019
During the first 90 days of 2019, I will finish the manuscript of my book about focus and prepare to publish it in print, Kindle and as an audiobook.
My intention is to publish a podcast episode and an article by me or a guest writer on Become a Writer Today at least once a fortnight. This way, I can continue sharing practical writing advice with you weekly over email. I will also continue writing non-fiction articles on Medium and elsewhere.
During 2019, I intend to double down on outsourcing. Currently, I work with a number of different people who help me edit my podcast, articles, book chapters, design images and so on.
Although I could do some of these things myself, outsourcing has helped me improve the quality of my work and save a significant amount of time each week.
Outsourcing helped me become way more productive than any tool I can recommend in this annual review.
Here's to a great 2019.
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