The food has been put away, the present wrappers cleared from out under the coffee table, and my aunt and grandma have left to return home. My brother is watching the Miami Heat game, my sister-in-law is putting on comfy clothing, and when my other brother returns from taking my aunt and grandma home, we’re going to play a game of Settlers of Catan.

It’s a quiet time, and I’m feeling contemplative. After five months of frenetic activity and far too much writing, the first novel of Vampire Miami is live and available for free on Amazon. Books 2 through 4 are mostly finished and slated for imminent publishing. It’s been an incredible, bewildering, surreal and exhausting experience. I wrote about 350,000 words in four months. I ran and succeeded in getting my Kickstarter funded – at 135% of my goal. I worked with a professional editor and cover designer, and managed to publish my first book in time for Christmas. All good things.

And yet. I’ve made mistakes. I should never have tried to write and publish three books in as many months. I shouldn’t have expected them to be anything other than what they were – first drafts. I should have realized that it’s not enough to just launch a novel – you have to market it properly so that the launch is a success. I should have slowed down the process so that it never felt like grueling work.

There’s plenty of work yet to be done. Plenty of editing. I’m going to watch how my books sell over the next three or four months, and then make some decisions about my writing career. At that point I’ll have 8 books out and will have been publishing my novels for two years. I’m going to take stock and reevaluate my approach. I’ll ask:

  1. What’s wrong with my marketing? How can I better utilize social media and blogging to build a following?
  2. What’s wrong with my novels? Do I need to work harder on editing? Revising? Take more time with character development, in giving beta readers time to get back to me? 
  3. Should I try to get traditionally published? I could argue all day long against this move, but at the end of the day it’s still an excellent way to become ‘legitimate’ and get name recognition. 
I don’t know. It’s possible that my vampire books will do well. It’s possible they’ll sink into the ocean of self-published novels and disappear. 
I don’t have any regrets. While I don’t think I approached this latest project correctly, I have learned from the experience, and have had an incredible time connecting with Kickstarter backers and Jenn, my editor. Still, I need to stop shooting from the hip and start implementing more deliberate strategies. 
2013 has the potential to be an incredible year. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make it so.