2020 took me on a roller coaster ride of … well, grief.
You guys. I had such enormous plans for 2020. Like so many people, 2020 was going to be MY YEAR. I was finally going to burst forth from my chrysalis and sprinkle glitter and butterfly fairy dust all over the publishing world.
And then, March 13th, (Friday the 13th as it was!) I watched the news conference that changed everything. Our governor announced the children would not be going back to school on Monday or for the foreseeable future. Businesses would close. Life would shut down. Temporarily. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
What we hoped would be for just a few weeks dragged on and on and on and on and on and on.
In that moment, all I felt was intense fear.
What would I do? How was this going to work? My husband was unemployed, I was trying to launch WIP School (add that to the list of things that flopped, but we pulled out a win in the end!), I have three kids (2 in elementary school and 1 in Middle school), and now not only was I scared I was going to die from this mystery virus, but I needed to figure out how to homeschool 3 kids while keeping the business, that is our only source of income, afloat?
Somehow we figured it out. But we got some bruises along the way.
These things did NOT work for us in 2020:
- Large program launches (WIP school went from being a $2997 program to $297 – the steal of a lifetime for the people that joined in)
- Traditional launch strategies; especially those focusing on an in-person launch. We had to completely redesign our launch strategies…
- NaNoWriMo – y'all my brain was so fried by November, I couldn't even write a grocery list, let alone a 50,000+ word novel
- Chrysalis Press – the traditional press we launched at the end of December 2019… I was so busy trying to save the rest of my business, the traditional press took a back seat. But super excited that our sole author, Kasie Whitener, has a 2nd book coming out in 2021!
- Sales funnel launches – for Jumpstart Your Book! and Publish Like a Pro. Neither of these lived up to my expectations, (especially considering the time and monetary investment) – largely thanks to the ridiculous cost of Facebook Ads because of all of the election insanity…
- In person retreats. 🙁 2020 was meant to be the year I hosted my first in person retreat. But… never fear, we're going to do it at the end of 2021! WOOHOO!
- Planning an in person conference for 2021. We planned on having the Women in Publishing Summit be an in person event in 2021. NOPE. Not happening. But… this year's line up is out of this world anyway! (Are you registered? Early bird pricing ends soon!)
But… it wasn't all bad.
In fact… 2020 wound up being a very surprisingly fantastic year, once I got my mindset straight.
I tried a lot of new things this year. We had some really big WINS. Like the phenomenal Women in Publishing Summit.
Our biggest wins of 2020: (besides the WIP Summit, of course, which thankfully ended right before mayhem set forth)
1. Our Book Launch in a Box program was amazing. We covered a lot in one month and our students really performed well! I can't wait to run that again! We managed to completely re-envision our book launches, including some really incredible changes that we made with Instagram, resulting in some really big launches. We teach it all in this program. We'll be running it again in the Spring – you can get on the waiting list here: ADD ME TO THE WAITLIST!
2. WIP School was incredible. For a full six months, from April to September, we met twice monthly with 30 authors and trained on all things publishing and marketing. We had fantastic guest experts and really covered a lot of ground. We are converting it to a 4-month program in 2021, with several on-demand modules, but I'm excited about the improvements that we're making for the 2021 WIP School.
3. Email list growth! I've been focusing hard on growing the email list, through a wide variety of efforts.
This is so important for you as authors… the bigger your email list, the better book sales you're going to see. It's just a fact.
Why? Because people who actually give you their real email address and actually open your emails are interested in what you're talking about. And if you've done the work to convert them to actual followers / fans – even friends, people who take the time to read your emails are likely the people who want to read your book or sign up for your course or take some sort of action you're asking them to do.
To grow that email list, you have to have something that is worthy of someone handing over an email address. You might host a webinar or training event, you might give a free download of a tool that's necessary (for example, I recently downloaded a novel planning spreadsheet, which I was more than happy to give my email address to receive), or it might be a sample of your book.
I could provide a whole list of ways to collect email addresses, but the really challenging part comes in the next part… what you do with them, how you get people to actually open your emails, and how you make sure people want to stay on your list.
So this month's training workshop is on this topic. Not just why you need to grow your email list, but what tools you can use to do it, how you get people on the email list, how you KEEP them there, and how you create calls to action that, well, result in some sort of action.
Email Lists for Authors! How to build one, grow it, and keep your peeps (to sell more books!)
January 12th at 1pm EST, and yes, a recording is provided.
This training is included as a benefit in our Monthly Membership Program as well.
4. Small monthly training workshops. These have been a huge win for us and our audience. Digging into a specific topic each month has really worked well. And because the live attendance rate is general in the 15 – 20 person range, our attendees get plenty of personal interaction and feedback.
5. Amazing launches for our authors. This year we brought forth some books we are really proud of:
Purple Butterfly Press
Hi, It's Me! I have ADHD (Jan 2020)
A Big Change for Daisy (April 2020)
Rupert's Snowman (September 2020)
Kat Biggie Press
The Fish Dress (October 2020)
Ditch the Fear & Just Market It! (June 2020)
Sharing Solace Presents: The Gratitude Journal (Sept. 2020)
The Wise One (October 2020)
6. Partnerships and Webinars. Heck yes to this! I had a GREAT time running joint webinars this year. Some of it was already planned as continuing education with the Women in Publishing Summit, but I did TWO webinars with ProWritingAid (How to Keep Writing When You Feel Overwhelmed) and another on what you need to know to self-publish like a pro. I had the opportunity to appear on several podcasts and summits, and I made some really great connections with others in the industry. Networking and building relationships is always a win!
7. The opportunity to be authentically myself… for the BIGGEST WIN. 2020 allowed me the chance to open up, share some really personal stories, give everyone a peek behind the curtain, and see me for who I really am… a mom trying my best to make a positive impact in this world… fueled by a desire to show my children how to show up in this world, while helping other authors get their words into the world. I finally launched the PublishHer podcast, a place where I get to share the ups and downs of publishing, as well as really great interviews with experts in the industry.
So, we survived 2020… and some really great things came out of it. From the failures, we learned how to pivot and to do better. We're still learning. 2020 forced some major change to happen in so many areas, including book launching and marketing. These are not things that are likely to change soon.
What was your biggest accomplishment of 2020? And what do you have planned for 2021?