Tag Archives: Book

How I Got Back On Track With Writing Resolutions

My quivering computer awaiting my first words of 2014.  (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

My quivering computer awaiting my first words of 2014. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

At the end of 2013, I am sitting at my computer, wondering how to sum up the year and whether or not I should set some goals for 2014.

Why did I fail to reach so many goals in 2013?  Was it because I took too big a bite, trying to do NaNoWriMo, and an online magazine column, two novels, three blogs, and a book of flash fiction stories?

Was it because of my body betraying me in a number of poor health ways?

Was it because I couldn’t get organized and had a mess on my desk and a clutter in my head?

As I ponder, I decide that each of the above reasons had something to do with falling woefully short of my goals. A small something.  How did I arrive at that somewhat startling conclusion?  Because I have really wanted to accomplish something in the past…a number of somethings…and ended up finishing them ahead of time.  Each of these goals had been as big as 2013’s targets.

"Witchcanery" by Sandra Bell Kirchman, First Editiion, pub. 2007 by FantasyFic

“Witchcanery” by Sandra Bell Kirchman, First Edition, pub. 2007 by FantasyFic

The key here was “wanting.”  I really wanted to accomplish them.  So did that mean I didn’t want to accomplish my writing goals for the past year?  No.  I definitely did want to finish my Nano entry and ended up in emergency instead.  The entry was the sequel to my published novel Witchcanery.

I had, in the past, had customers (fans) who made me promise that I would write the sequel to Witchcanery before they agreed to buy it.  They had read the dust jacket and wouldn’t even start such a “fascinating book”–their words, not mine–unless I agreed to do the sequel.

So the sequel had been in the works for several years and I had promised myself that 2013 was the year Witchcanery, Baby! would explode into being.  (As you probably know, you have to complete 50,000 words before you achieve the NaNoWriMo goal.) I got as far as 22,000+ words before Mother Nature pulled the plug on me.

And seconds after writing those last words, I received an epiphany.  There is a difference between “wanting” and “being dedicated to.”  And therein lies the difference.  I have been dedicated to accomplishing many things in the past, and EVERY SINGLE ONE was accomplished.

These goals ran from marrying the man I love, to finishing, editing and publishing my first book (which happened to be Witchcanery).  I have wanted many things in the past (and many of them were important) things like pierced ears (ouch!), continuing my volunteer work, losing weight…some I achieved or received…others I did not.

What's my priority?

What’s my priority? Photo credit: Stuart Miles | Freedigitalphotos.com

Now, here’s the kicker.  I felt fulfillment for EACH dedicated goal I achieved. Not many of them gave me real satisfaction if I achieved them.  I wanted a couple of writing courses, which I acquired after a small struggle.  I was sorry I had spent my money on them.

So what does this discrepancy mean to me?  It boils down to one thing for me.  It’s the difference between needs and wants, as simple as that.  And something I have know about since I was in my 20’s.  If I perceive it as a need, even subconsciously, then, being the survivor that I am, I will make sure I accomplish it.  If it’s only a want, I will prioritize it as to how badly I want it.  Even then, there is no guarantee I will get it.

So I’m sitting here, feeling a tad smug for having figured out what went wrong in 2013 (and quite likely how I messed up with my goals in other years).  I have a chance to right all the wrongs, like Ebenezer Scrooge after the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Proposed bookcover for "Witchcanery, Baby!"

Proposed bookcover for “Witchcanery, Baby!”

So the first thing I will put on my list for 2014 is completing Witchcanery, Baby! You want to know what happened there?  I was trying to complete it in 2013 for the wrong reasons…because fans wanted this sequel, because I had written in some parts for friends whose husbands had passed, and it was very comforting to them.  So I had to finish it, right?

Wrong!  It’s like dieting.  If I try to lose weight because my husband wants me to, or my kids, or my best friend (for some strange reason), then it’s not for me.  Body weight is personal…so is writing.  If I finish a story because I NEED to, then I have the write…er, right…of it.  And now, all the other reasons don’t matter.  I know I need to finish this story.  I can hardly wait for Dec. 31, 2014 to find out if it worked.  I’ll keep you posted.

So, how about you?  What keeps you from accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions or any goals you decide to earmark for completion?  Here’s a post by Daphne Gray-Grant that I just read about using the right word when making goals.  I think it might help.

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Promise You’ll Write a Sequel – Book Signings (Part 2)

Book on left was edited and layout done by Sandra Bell Kirchman. Book on right was written by her.

You’ve done your homework and read Part 1 of this two-part article, right? So you know about the set-up. Your table is looking beautiful, with shiny new copies of your book artfully arranged, your business cards available, and you’re waiting for someone to appear. The shoppers start coming in, and you eagerly await a horde of book fans, all salivating at the thought of getting a signed copy of your book.

That doesn’t happen.

Instead, as they come in the door, the stream of customers part at your table as if you were Moses and they are the Red Sea, leaving you in this tiny island of you, a table, and books. At this point, don’t despair. It will show on your face and drive any customer, who accidentally stumbles on your table, away. You are no longer a creative artist (well, you are, but this is not your primary function at this point). You are a marketer extraordinaire. Even if you are normally an introvert, you are not here. I don’t mean you have to get up on the table and tap dance, but you must start making eye contact, smiling at people, chatting to them in a friendly way if they get close to your table.

If you have signs/posters up, people will start coming over to see what the fuss is about. Then you start talking to them. Here’s how I did it.

One lady came up and picked up the book (Witchcanery), looking at the beautiful cover, then turned it over and read the back jacket.

 Me:  Do you like fantasy fiction?

 Her:  Not really. What’s this about?

 Me:  (Trying not to sound too disappointed) It’s about Shelley Kesinkowsky,  a modern-day witch, who is hauled out of her comfortable home by the Grand Council of Wizards because of a special talent she has and sent with her former nemesis to save the world from Mother Earth’s wrath. See, Mother Earth is ticked off at the way people are polluting the planet and…

Her:  What age group. I don’t see it marked here.

Me:  Oh, it can be read by anyone 14 years up to 85 and more. I have friends who are in their 80s and love it.

Her:  I was thinking of getting it for my niece. She’s 13.

Me:  Oh, well, if she’s a mature 13, it should be okay. It’s squeaky clean, in that there is nothing suggestive or improper in it. It includes humor, romance, high adventure, and of course the magic of fantasy.

Her:  Sounds good. Could you please inscribe it to Nancy?

Me:  Could you take it to the counter and pay for it and then bring it back?  The store would prefer you do that before I start marking up their books. (little laugh)

Her:  (Little laugh) Sure.

I’ve won her over and off she goes.

Not all the customers are that hard to sell. That was about the hardest I had to work to get someone, who was already predisposed to buy a book, to actually buy it.

I have talked to hundreds of people at these book signings. They nearly always appreciate a friendly and caring manner. Well, friendly, anyhow. I tried to be helpful as well. If they came looking for a specific book, and I had noticed it in the store, I would direct them to it. On at least three occasions when that happened, the people came back and decided to buy a book.

On other occasions, I asked them (from signs I noticed as I was talking to them) if they were interested in writing themselves. I nearly always got it right. The people were touched that a professional writer (me) would take the time and interest to talk to them about their hobbies and their hopes and dreams. I was always encouraging, letting them know if they wanted to write, all they needed was perseverance. The rest would come.

Now, here is what I was told by the staff of this big bookstore. If I sold more than five books, I could consider myself lucky (yeah, well, it takes more than luck), and this was in a big city environment. They said that even some known authors didn’t sell much more than 10 or 15 books. I was blown away. There went my dream of big bucks at the signing table. Oh well, I wasn’t writing for the money anyhow.

And that’s what you have to remember. You aren’t really there to sell books. Remember I said at the beginning that you are going to have to be a marketer extraordinaire? But not for selling books…for selling yourself. For your first book, especially if it is self-published, you are going to have to get people talking about you and getting to know your name.

That’s why your business cards (don’t forget to hand them out), printed bookmarks if you have them, flyers and brochures are such great tools for getting your name known. People love to get things free, and readers generally keep bookmarks. They will have your name and the name of your book in front of them for a long time.

Well, where is the fun part, you might ask? I found it in talking to the readers. I love readers. Without readers, where would we writers be? I love them because they love what we do as a whole. If they like us, they back us, support us, cheer us on. And when they find a writer they can talk to, some of them pour their hearts out.

Sure, there are some who want to put their tippy coffee cup on your book table (ask them not to) or whose grubby hands gleefully page through a pristine copy of your book (nothing you can do about that unless they are rough with it) or even take your time talking to you and then walk away without buying anything. That’s okay. They probably have your business card, and more importantly they have walked away with a good impression of you. And you go away with happy memories of the great people you have met.

Just as an example. I explained what Witchcanery was about to a lady who loved fantasy. Her eyes grew bigger and bigger as I was talking. When I finished, she said to me very firmly, “I’ll buy the book on one condition.”

 “What’s that?” I asked.

 “You promise to write a sequel to it.”

P.S. At my first book signing, I sold 11 books. Only once in the many subsequent book signings did I fall under five books and that was because the book table was hidden away behind tall book shelves. One Christmas week I sold 27 books. I am telling you this to let you know that you can be a first-timer and still sell books. Also keep in mind that it’s not the number of books you sell, but the number of people you talk to. If writing is your passion, don’t let anything persuade you to let it go or discourage you!