In today’s episode we are reflecting on the past year of publishing, the past two years of the Strategic Authorpreneur Podcast, and what 2022 will bring for both of us.

Finding the podcast helpful? You can buy us a coffee to help keep us ads free and independent ->

Finding the podcast helpful? There are a few ways to support the podcast. You can:

Buy us a coffee.Use our links to purchase books, resources and tools.

Complete Episode Transcripts

This site contains affiliate links to products that we have used and love, and that we think may be of help to you on your authorpreneur journey. We may receive a commission on sales of these products, which is how this podcast stays independent and free of advertising. Thanks for your support! Click here for a full list of recommended tools and resources. 

Transcript for Strategic Authorpreneur Episode 067: Reflecting on Our 2021 Progress

Crystal Hunt: Hey there, strategic authorpreneurs. Welcome to episode 66 of the Strategic Authorpreneur Podcast. I’m Crystal Hunt.

Michele Amitrani: And I’m Michele Amitrani and we are here to help you save time, money, and energy as you level up your writing career.

If you find this show helpful, you can help us keep the episodes coming by clicking to the buy us a coffee button on the website and the show notes.

Crystal Hunt: Okay, so in this episode we are reflecting on the past year of publishing, the past two years of the podcast, and also looking at what the next year is going to bring for both of us.

So we’ll have a slightly different format where it’s progress report. So we’re going to be checking in on bunch of things and looking at both the short-term and long-term progress reporting as we have gone wide over this past year, which has been a brave new world of all exciting things. And so we will dig into what has happened there.

So Michele let’s think about the last year of publishing wide and think about what has changed over this past year. So we’re going to do what we usually do for a progress report. We’re going to talk about what happened by wearing the different hats, and then talk about what has changed within each of those hats. So Michele all you kick us off.

What has changed for your creator self over this past year of publishing wide adventures? 

Michele’s creator journey in 2021

Michele Amitrani: Crystal, lots of things changed. And now I can say I was, an am still, very happy that we did that. The jump that leap on the world front for our new publications, because I will have the chance to tell you a few things that I’ve learned in the past year that really I think are going to help me taking some decisions for the future.

But for the creator self, I love these things that we are doing, that we are dividing all of the things that we learned in three main subjects. And we said more than once that the writing part is the most important part for an author. And I did learn a few things about what I can do in this 2021.

You know, by now the 2020 was the kind of… the year of change for me with the challenge, with the fact that I forced myself… more than force, I pushed myself to writing more. But 2021 was a different year. I did the still manage to write new content and publish it, but it was more a year in which I refined some of the content that I created in 2020 as a creator.

So on this side this was the second year in which I set a writing routine and I tried to stick with it, meaning writing every single day. Now I didn’t write every single day. I checked my calendar and, you know, that I have my notebook and every single day I check how many hours I put in and they were a week or so in which I couldn’t write, and there were a few days in which I wrote like 15, 20 minutes. I don’t consider that to be a writing day, but I was mostly let’s say successful, in keeping the momentum that’s I think an important thing that I didn’t do before 2020 and before 2021. Keeping the momentum, I think it’s a very, very important thing.

And we discussed many times that there are several different kinds of writers, that there is a writer that can write in sprints. So maybe 50,000 or 60,000 words or more in a week or so that’s something I can’t do. I tried. It’s not for me, but I did try this year as I did the past year to keep momentum.

And so there were times where I did not write for a week or so, but the fact that I was able as a creator to keep track, to keeping track of when I wrote and for how long, really helped me understand that this is the way I operate as a writer. I cannot write in springs and this is a confirmation for me.

And it’s important for my future self, because this is the way I create content. This is not just 2020 anymore. It’s 2020 plus 2021. This is the way I operate. I need to be writing every day. If I can. Now. As I said, keeping track of my writing in that day journal was very good because it also helped me understanding usually how much I wrote on average per week and also per day.

So this is the reason why I can tell you that on average, I write around two hours and a half per day. If I write more than four hours, I feel kind of depleted. And this is something I did not know a year ago. And it’s something that I can use in the future if I have a writing project. I know for example, if I have two or three months, and I know that I can allocate a specific number of hours to a project, I now know if I can physically do it or not. I can’t write seven hours a day. I just can’t. I can do it once. And then for three or four days, I have to stop. But this is important for me as a creator. I now know what is my mileage per day. And this is of course can change because you know, it’s, it’s a bit like a gym, like going to the gym and working out.

If you work out a bit more, you’re able to maybe lift more. I do believe that in some extent, this can be applied to writing, but for me, 2021, Michele Amitrani, if this guy writes more than like four hours per day for a week or two, that’s kind of a burnout for me. I know I don’t, I can do it. And I’m talking about writing, not admin work or managing or marketing, just writing. Plain writing.

And we discussed about this, Crystal, and I think that other authors also have like a millage. There are very few authors that can write maybe six or seven hours per day for a year. If you know, some, let me know because I need some suggestion. So that’s something that I’ve learned. And the other thing for the creator hat was: I was able to sit down and actually understand how much I wrote and how much I published this year.

So. On the writing side. I think it’s important to know numbers, remember that we actually made a data driving episode stating how much is important to know your own numbers. And this was the first time that I actually crunch my number for my writing in 2021. That’s why I think the listeners are going to be interested in this comparison that I’m doing with 2020.

In 2020, I wrote 12 things because that was my challenge. Mostly novellas, no more than 20,000 words. But the thing that made me realize that I can’t necessarily replicate it, is that in 2021, I did release more content, but I wasn’t able to write as much.

In fact, in 2021, I was just able to write two new original works for fiction side of things and two origin and works on the non-fiction side of things. So two non-fiction books in Italian and two fiction books mythological fantasy. 2020, it was like 15. So compared to 2020, I wrote less original works or new works, if you want to call them like that.

This is important when we will discuss about the manager things. And I think this is important also, if the listeners are considering doing too many things in a year. So 2020 it was a creator generating year. 2021 was more a year that I used to polish stuff. So I did use my creativity because I rewrote three novellas, but I didn’t really create way more content, like I did in 2020.

I think this is very important. And I know there are people that can do both things: creating and refining content. It’s just not me, at least not me at this time. And the numbers speak clearly. So I wrote and published the two new mythological fantasy novellas and two non-fiction books in Italian.

Again, if I just considered writing new content, These are less than the 2020 things, as I said, because I wrote more than 12. But I also rewrote to those three novellas. The other thing that I did as a creator was translating. I translated a shitload of things. I translated seven novellas and one short story from English into Italian.

This is something I did not do in 2020. So would you consider this original content? I don’t, I don’t consider a translation of an existing work to be original, but when I sat down and I checked the stats, I was… in my hands, there were seven novellas and one short story. So eight new products compared to 2020, and I thought this was mind blowing.

Again, I can’t bring myself to acknowledge these seven new things, which are translation, as new original work, but still they took hundreds of hours to translate. So I think this is also important, and this is actually one of the things that you told me Crystal, more than once. One of my problem as a creator is that I have to leverage the 24 hours that I have in a day, in two different streams. The Italian and the English one. I totally saw it in 2021. Because if you have to translate half a dozen things, which amount to what on the 150,000 words, (because seven novellas plus the short story that how long it was) it took time from my creative journey. So I wasn’t able to replicate as many original work because of this reason.

And I didn’t know before doing this checking of the last of the year. So just to close my year as a creator in 2021, overall, I learned a lot more about what I can do when it comes to creating content. I know that it usually takes 30 hours to translate around 20,000 words from English into Italian. And I know that I can write a novella in two weeks if I set myself to, because again, I took the time to put the hours of work. So these are benchmarks. There are proven. I did this more than once. And then I now can use in future project to kind of guess how much time I will most likely need to do a particular task.

So for me, this is huge. And since I can now go into a project, knowing a rough estimate of how many hours, days, and also will power this project is going to require. And again, this is something that I was able to do just because I sat down, I crunched the data, and I understood this is what I did in 2021 that I didn’t do in 2020.

And I’m dying to know when you sat down and let’s say, crunched your numbers. You compare you to your 2021, 2020, what did you find out? What did your create yourself find out compared with Crystal of 2020?

How Crystal rediscovered the fun of writing and kept momentum in her creative projects

Crystal Hunt: Well, I had a few interesting little things. So the first one is that I got a really clear sense of my creative priorities. One of the things I promised myself for this year was to write whichever stories seemed like the most fun because that was kind of a big mission, was to rediscover the joy of writing and to sort of separate the business side from the creative side and in focusing back on my fiction as well, after a couple of years of really heavily focusing on nonfiction and trying to get a better balance between the.

That was an interesting experiment as far as kind of how to manage that kind of creatively manage that in the sense of, you know, my brain that’s generating the new content, how do I need to break up my time to make that possible? And you know, which things was I most interested in doing? So that was really interesting.

I did manage to get myself into a rhythm of I… this was the year that I was transitioning to full-time writing from managing the day job and the extra stuff and a million volunteer commitments and everything else. And so there’s been a lot of restructuring of the daily flow and rebuilding habits and untraining patterns that were in my body and my brain from the last 20 years of writing while also working.

So that was really interesting. And I did, once I managed to kind of, you know, train myself, not to check my email until much later in the day and, you know, eliminate the loss of those distractions and really settle into the idea that like I was allowed to work on writing during work hours, because that is my job.

That was an interesting sort of psychological shift that had to happen. But once I did that settled into a very comfortable kind of a rhythm and I usually actually write seven days a week, but only five of them are officially writing days. And then I have a little bit of wiggle room, but what I did discover is once I get into the story, I don’t want to come out again.

I just kind of want to stay there until I’ve gotten to the end of it. And because I write short as well, this is much more possible if I was writing 200,000 word novel or something like that. You know, just going in and staying in until you’re done is a little bit more dangerous to the rest of your lifestyle.

But I found that I could consistently write for three to five hours a day for the first two or three weeks in a month. And then I needed like a break week where I would catch up on all the business stuff and whatever else. I was trying to balance my like creative stuff in the mornings and business stuff in the afternoon, it sorta works a little bit.

Like when I hit the end of those three to five hours a day of writing, then yes, I need to switch gears. But mostly I actually found it worked better to have a week or 10 days at the end of the month where I catch up on all of the business things and to mostly just be a creator for the first two or three weeks in the month.

So, I was able to consistently write three to 5,000 words a day for the last couple of months. And, and what that means is that I’ve managed to get ahead of my publishing schedule for the first time in a very long time. The story that I’m writing is not the one that is being published in the next month.

Right? So that was a huge goal for this year. Ideally, I want to be, you know, six months to 12 months ahead of the publishing schedule. I haven’t quite creeped up that much of a lead yet, but I am definitely getting closer. I added 200,000 published words to my goal. I’m tracking on my, I’m tracking my progress on a way to a million words and I am 200,000 words, published words closer to that goal. I’m not tracking anything that I haven’t published yet. So I’m almost at 600,000 words of published stuff, and that is exciting. And I am, my goal is to hit that million this year. So I’m looking to kind of double that word count for next year, but without losing the part where I actually like doing the writing.

And that was my final kind of thing, looking back over this past year, I am excited about getting up to write and I am enjoying the process of writing and it’s not… the focus is back on stories, and I really did try to figure out a way to manage my time and manage my stuff that was going to give me a bit of separation between the creator and the business person.

And we’ll talk about a little bit more about that in the manager section. Since a lot of the things I did were set up to help me do that, but it definitely, that is my, the thing I’m most excited about is that I am excited again about getting up and playing with stories and my characters and everything else and actually creating things.

And I I’m fully immersed again in the world where my stories all take place and having a lot of fun with the characters and everything else. So that is, that is my creator hat stuff. Now let’s put our manager hats on for a minute and talk a little bit about the business side, because I think that’s a little bit more where the wide versus the past year might’ve been different is going to become relevant for us.

So Michele, what did you discover with your manager hat on what has changed over this past year?

A new approach to admin work and a faster publishing process

Michele Amitrani: This I mentioned in a past episode, but since going wide with my mythological fantasy series and also non-fiction series in Italian was a must, something that I wanted to do for this year. I want to underline this point. Pre-order basically saved the day. Meaning that when you have the opportunity as a wide author to really use these, pre-orders even only to save time, save admin job, I would always strongly suggest you to use them because this was my experience by publishing a lot more products compared to all the other years.

And I’m going to tell you about that in a minute, but I want to stress this because going wider was the bedrock of what we were doing for 2021. And I did find out that pre-orders helped me really change the game. One of the things that I never really explained is the amount of freedom that they gave me but also the fact that I didn’t have to scramble the last two days in order to publish things. Since this year was actually dedicated on polishing and really seeing the content I already knew what kind of book I was going to publish a particular month.

And I had for or 2021 or the publication schedule set. Since I had the pre-order as a, let’s say a weapon that I could use. I used it and it, again, it saved me not only time, but also sanity I have to say. So this think the pre-order I think I didn’t stress it enough maybe now I did, but I strongly recommend if any of the listener are considering and are thinking that maybe preorders might be a bit more of a more work to do, it actually saved the save a lot of time. And we know that pre-orders on the wide side, actually, you can benefit from having more pre-orders. And this, I think it’s an important thing to just get straight and immediately out of the gate.

The other thing that is connected to this, and as I mentioned in the creator hat part was that in 2021, I mostly was a manager.

I was less of a creator than 2020, and I was more of a manager because most of the things that I need was polishing products, packaging it so new covers blurbs, that kind of stuff, and then releasing it, and all those things fall under the manager kind of things, except for rewriting them. So this is another thing that I found out after sitting down and crunching the number.

So I did that for the creator now I’m going to do that for the manager. In 2020. So a year ago I published three eBooks. Three mythological fantasy, one Italian (Anima di Pietra) and the two in English (Soul of Stone and Bringer of Fire) That’s it. And that was a three books release in a span of, I think, five weeks.

November and December, 2020. That’s it. Now by the time 2021 will be over, I will have published 13 eBooks and 5 paperbacks, and I’m not counting the three reader magnets that I wrote exclusively for my subscribers, for the… one non-fiction guide and two fictions novellas. So there is a difference in what I was able to release, to ship. I’m not talking about creating content, but I’m talking about releasing content. And I think this is important for people that are actually keeping content as Crystal is doing, I know you are doing that,  for later a later. This is huge. This is important because it’s so difficult for many people, for many writers to sit on content, as they say, but the moment in which you have the time, the freedom, and it’s your plan to release that content that you have been working one year ago, two years ago, and then it’s go time, because this was really a liberating experience that I was able to release all that content, most of the content that I prepare in 2020. 

Granted the content that I publish where mostly works, that don’t go over 20,000 words. So this is important to realize, but still it is the most that I was able to publish in one calendar year.

Nothing else comes even close. And frankly it blows my mind because this shows me that if I just shut up and do the work, things starts to happen. And I saw that on the visibility side, but also on the revenue side, which are not necessarily the most important things, because for me, the most important thing is the craft, but I did see a ripple effect fact on those other two elements. So from three products released in 2020 to 18 products released in 2021. This was the same thing that happened with my manager hat. And the last one that I just wanted to point out because I did try to use some time to refine also this aspect of my business was the newsletter building.

And I wasn’t very good at this, so I have to admit, it because I really started curating my newsletter the last four to five months when I sat down and I decided, no, no, no, no, no, I’m not doing this right. I need to publish at least one newsletter per month. Before I wasn’t doing that. The challenge was that I have three news letter in two different languages and so I needed to find time to write that. And I was able to do that in the past four to five months. And also that taught me something that if you keep that momentum going, people are going to notice. And I saw this shift also on the way I interact with my readers that influenced my decision of writing more consistently the newsletter, and then putting this final point on the manager’s side, because I consider more writing newsletter as an admin job.

I still find it that entertaining and helpful, but it’s more something that you do when you have to communicate with your audience. And it’s not like for me really creative, like creating a character or a world, but it is something that is important for your business as an author. So this was my last bit of things that changed compared to 2020, although I wasn’t good enough on this side.

And I’m really hoping to level up my game on that side of things. And now it is your turn Crystal to share your experience as a manager for 2021, what happened to you? 

How going wide influenced Crystal’s publishing journey in 2021

Crystal Hunt: Well, there’s been some interesting shifts there as well. So we knew that going wide was going to mean a hit to the income stream, and that it would take some time to build things up again, in those other avenues.

And so because that revenue increase is going to happen slowly over time, that was one decision I made was to actually go wide and pull my books from the KDP Select and come out of KU. So there’s definitely that transition. It was a little bit painful because you watched the numbers drop. The other decision for this year was to not release all of my stuff that I was writing and to sit on it so that I would be able to front load the system so that over the next few years, I will always be ahead of my publication schedule because that was one challenge I found when I sort of built things up and started publishing regularly and, you know, built up a nice big audience and everything was going really smoothly except that I was really trouble staying on top of all of the publishing tasks and all of the writing tasks and switching back and forth in my brain. You know, every, every day having to be kind of in both of those spaces was really not working all that well for me. So that was the one of the things I had promised myself was I would build that buffer because I want to use pre-orders, but I do not want to be scrambling to finish something because I have a pre-order deadline.

It’s important that I make, the best story I can make, and that does not always happen to a deadline because we’ve set one months in advance, and so really wanting to make sure I protected that craft piece. And so I made a policy for myself that I can’t set a pre-order until a book has already been through the first round of copy edits and I am a hundred percent sure. Also it needs to go through developmental edits and the first round of edits so that I know for sure the only thing left is like a proofreading round and that also lets you upload a file that is reasonably clean as your preview file because some of the platforms will show that in advance.

So I really just wanted to have that in place. So knowing revenue took a big hit because of the shift to wide and also that I wasn’t releasing anything, which means revenue takes a pretty big hit as well. Then what I needed to do as the, my manager self was to sort of protect the bottom line of the business by reducing expenses as much as I could during this initial phase of regrowing income streams from those wide channels.

So I did two things to do that. One was, I converted as many of my tools over to lifetime licenses as I could. So I’ve been asked for about two years now, Black Friday is a great time to do that. There’s also other times of year where people have specials. If you keep your eye on AppSumo then you can find deals on software and things that do some of the jobs that needs doing.

So all of those things have been very helpful. So I converted a bunch of things to lifetime licenses, so I never have to pay for them again. So it might’ve been a higher than normal expense in the short term, but long-term, I won’t have those ongoing expenses. Also data sort of analysis of all the tools I was using and I’ll talk a little bit about process in a second and so what I did was in streamlining down my processes, that also meant that some of the tools I had been using to do certain things I don’t really need any more. So I was able to cancel some licenses. I was able to shift some licenses to less expensive options and then some reduce altogether.

I did really, as that my manager self simplify the heck out of my publication processes this year. So we published two non-fiction books in the Creative Academy guides for writers series this year, in addition to the fiction stuff. So I have one fiction release, December is the start of, and I guess actually by the time you’re hearing this episode, it will be live. So Elfed is out, and available. And that is kind of the start of my reboot releasing stuff and should have something every month or two kind of going forward from here. So that is really exciting and as I was publishing these last couple of books, we did two in tight succession. I was working on revising the publication process because when I was only publishing in KDP Select, I had a really long list of all the things I was doing for each book launch and all the stuff I was doing for publication and I was doing it all myself.

And so I took a very hard look at that list and I did an 80/20 analysis, which is something that we’ve talked about before on the podcast. But basically we tend to get 80% of our results from 20% of what we do. And I broke that down in the business side of things and I picked the 20% of the things I was doing that I thought were getting me 80% of the impact and those are the things that I’m going to focus on. And so I looked at that, we’ll talk about some of that in the marketing section, but I created some cheat sheets for myself. I created some templates for the new streamlined, paired down launching process and created some kind of automated systems that I can use on repeat with each tasks this year, since there’s going to be a lot of that and I I’m protecting my creator time and energy by making sure that’s contained in a way that I don’t have to think about it too much every month. 

The other thing that I did with my manager hat on was when I had re-evaluated all my finances and made some decisions about, you know, cutting back in certain areas then thinking about, okay, can I repurpose any of those funds to other things that will be more effective of an author assistant?

And: Hi Kayla, that she’ll be listening to this I’m sure. And we’ve been working together on building the story world and making sure all the characters are in the database and everything that has been publicly committed to is fully documented so that we don’t muck up and make mistakes in that way.

So she has been helping me with building the new website, which we’ll talk about in the marketing section, building this world and then also doing developmental edits and consistency edits so that, because she’s so familiar with the characters and everything from digging into that so much that she’s helping me make sure the stories are consistent.

When there’s a few years between you know, if you’re doing an ongoing series and there’s a few years between that first book you wrote and the one you’re doing now, and everything’s a drill length, and it’s all very messy from an overlapping timelines perspective, then it’s important that that consistency stuff is taken care of.

And so she is helping with all of those things. I also have identified which pieces of the publication process might make sense to hire out. So that’s one of the things that I’m going to do for this coming year to help me again keep my writer’s brain intact. And that is basically having a publication assistant who’s going to handle making the keyword packages and choosing the category stories that things will go into and doing book layouts and then uploading to all the platforms for publication. So the most important piece in all of this figuring things out was making the system that required the least amount of back and forth and communication with different people.

And when you’re working with a team, if you have two or three different people you’re working with, you know, asking yourself, how can I cut back the amount of communications that I have? And so before our process was, you know, Kayla was doing the layouts, but that puts it in the middle of the publication process, and she’s not doing any of the other parts of that right now. And so that it doesn’t really make sense. It’s not that efficient if you’re always waiting on someone, else’s schedule to bounce things back and forth. And so streamlining it in a way where, you know, if I know that a book is in the editing phase, Amanda and I are working on that and we’re going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.

And we’re doing it all in Microsoft Word. Only the two of us working it back and forth. And Amanda is my editor in case anybody is like, who’s Amanda. And what does she do? Bouncing those things back and forth is all just us in that process. And then once we get to the end of that process, then we go into the publication piece, which has its whole package of things that, you know, Stephanie takes care of.

And then a package of things that Kayla takes care of in terms of putting things on the website and everything else, which becomes the marketing side, to the publication side. So really clearly defining the phases that things were going to go through and really clearly defining, like who was the primary helper for each of those phases was extremely helpful in streamlining all of that, and in putting these systems into place that we can just hit repeat on it’s… I’m thinking of it as a little like machine, you know, and each one of those pieces is a cog in that machine. And I just need, there’s a little funnel and you can’t see me. I’m totally making hand gestures all over the place here and Michele is laughing at me, but just imagine that the story is going into the top of this little funnel, and then it’s going from one little part of the machine into the next little part of the machine, into the next little part of the machine, until it spits out into the reader’s reading device and they get to enjoy the story.

But taking away that need to think about what comes next. The next thing is, I hand it to Amanda and she makes it shiny. And the next thing is I, you know, hand it to stuff and she makes it into a book. And then Kayla helps with getting things all out there and I can really keep the focus on writing and creating those new stories.

And I still touch everything at each of those stages. I, you know, need to do whatever Amanda tells me to do to make it shiny. And I need to review everything that’s getting produced or done on my behalf, but it just stops me from getting stuck at any of those points basically and keeps things really flowing.

And it means I don’t have to do the analysis stuff that goes with each of those businessy pieces, which again helps keep my brain in the creator zone. I get to keep my creator hat on a lot more of the time, which is glorious. Okay. So marketer, hats. We’ve talked about creating part now, how do we sell the dang books?

So what have we learned over this past year about marketing in the wide space and within our own kind of business side of things. Talk about that.

A new way of doing marketing: things that worked and things that didn’t

Michele Amitrani: I’m going to be very brief with this point compared to the creator and admin slash manager. And just because if you think of the stuff that I did on the other side, I didn’t really have a lot of time and brainpower to focus too much on the marketer. But I will say I did focus more on studying Amazon ads on the Italian side, I didn’t try anything on the English side because I knew that I would be going burned if I even attempted that.

So I just focused all my energy on my best seller for the Italian front and I was able to, compare to the previous year, to use Amazon ads to leverage that new knowledge, to sell more books. And I actually wrote a book, one of the no fiction books in Italian was about my experience about Amazon ads.

S I didn’t do a lot on marketing except for continuing using Amazon as a platform for selling my books in Italian and again, this was mostly, if you asking me, which of these hat did you wear the most in 2021? The answer will be, I was more of a manager than any of the other things, because I use that time mostly to polish content I already had and ship it, as I explained before.

However, I will say that the little marketing I did on the English front didn’t go very well. So the experience overall was a mixed bag. It went okay on the Italian front because I really drilled down the Amazon ads realm and I tried to learn as much as I could on that topic. So I guess it went okay on the Italian front, thanks to Amazon ads, performance, increasing and because I built momentum on that, but the few times I attempted anything on marketing really related to give a push to one of my English book that kind of bombed, and this is important to know because I didn’t really do any ads platform. I just tried something as simple as booking promo sites, but the way I did it, wasn’t optimal.

And the moral of the story is that: the more things I try to do, even on the marketer side, the more, I am not doing these things well, and this is a lesson for me that I need to remember. Remember the 24 hours, seven days a week that applies to marketing too? And if I can allocate that time or one huge big chunk of thing, I can’t really do all the other things in as a professional and as polished a way.

So probably I would say an advice for you if you are attempting to do several different things and you’re trying to do them well, focus on one or two, this is going to be also one of them the thing that I’m going to tell you at the very end for what I’ve learned for this 2021, but definitely this is what happened for my marketer and I did some mistakes and I hopefully learned from them, but I was able to capitalize on some things that I did well on the Italian front. I am pretty sure that your market itself is going to be a way more polished and way better than my was. And I want to learn and know because I need to uplift my moral and that side of thing. So how was your marketer side of stuff, Crystal? 

Crystal Hunt: Well, I wasn’t releasing much so it was definitely more limited in that way. I mean, what we did do for our nonfiction books on the marketing side is we really nailed down sort of our launch strategies. And I think working with a strong, committed team of ARC reader is super important, if I’m looking at the things that make the most difference, that is one of them.

So having a crew of people who you’ve built up relationships with, who are willing to read and review your book when it comes out super key, because that kind of sets you up for literally everything else. If you’re doing a paid promo and you have a bunch of reviews on your book, it’s going to go better.

If you are looking to, you know, get into opportunities with a retailer, they’re going to look at how many reviews you have and if people are liking it and how that’s going and so that is really important as well. Also, if you are running ads, they’re going to do better if you have that. So paying somebody to do the advertising for us was also a great move because, you know, just like when Michele said with there’s too many things to learn and know, and if you try to do everything, you kind of just scratch the surface of knowing them.

So in the end, instead of paying for all the courses and stuff that I usually would do to learn everything for myself, I finally kinda got over that need to know all the things and hired Stephanie to do that for us. And so that has made a huge difference because I don’t have to pay constant attention to that.

I don’t need to monitor that daily and come, you know, into that business space and think about all the math involved with that and all the tracking and, you know, making strategic decisions kind of on daily basis to figure all that out. I just know it’s a budget item in our budget line item and beyond that, I just know it’s taken care of. And so the freedom that comes from that is huge. We tried our Amazon ads are great. We tried the BookBub ads, which we’re still trying to figure out in the wake of the Apple-apocalypse with all of the, the change in tracking of opens and all that kind of stuff.

It really kind of did a number and a few different ways in the advertising. So we are still trying to figure out a way around that and what it looks like now to be effective in that space. So we’re experimenting with that and learning that on the non-fiction side of things, and then on the fiction side of things I actually pulled back my ads because without the regular releases and a bit of momentum from other stuff, it just didn’t seem like a great way to focus energy. So I put all of the funds that I normally would be putting into marketing and advertising for fiction, I put into paying for editing and making sure all my covers were set up and everything else.

And so that was I think a really smart decision for what I was trying to accomplish with this year and I’m quite pleased with that. I quit social media, like entirely this past year. So that may be, you may be thinking like, well, isn’t that the opposite? But actually, in not doing the social media, it allowed me to refocus that marketing time on setting up, you know, sales, a special promos, whatever for the books in setting up stuff to build my newsletter.

So whether it’s a BookSweeps, promo, or setting up something on Bookfunnel, or, you know, doing a newsletter swap with somebody, I just found that spending my time on that was actually generating more room and spending a ton of time and getting sucked into the social media black hole and for my own sort of mental and emotional health.

Also being off those stopped breaking up my focus all the time. And so I was really able to… in that keeping of energy in the creator space, I was really able to keep my creator hat on and uninterrupted and to keep my focus, which I think was really, really valuable. And it really just brought home like the power of the newsletter and the direct communication with readers through whatever means that is.

But I think building, I went through and, you know, tweaked and updated some various other profiles and I’m just in the process of finalizing all of that as well, because the one big thing we did do that was shiny and new this year, build a new website for the Rivers End book club. So instead of it being my name, it’s the world which is gonna feature because all of the stories take place in Rivers End, and then you get to have a really different kind of user experience.

So people come as residents and they can meet their neighbours, which are the people who they read about in the books and, you know, read recipes and there’s like the town newspaper. So all of those sorts of special features that is really immersive is where I was playing, because that was also helping me with world building and to really get into it.

So the character from the books who writes the gossip column in the town is the one who posts on the website. Whatever gossip is happening. And you know, I had Jenna McAllister, who’s the web designer in the first book is the credit on the bottom of my website as to who did the web design. And so really just building out that reader experience in a really thorough way.

And that’s also fun. I like doing that stuff and it’s fun. I think for readers, when they, when they recognize those little pieces, it it’s a bit of discovery and it doesn’t feel quite so like buy my book, which isn’t really how I like to roll. So I am just focused on which parts of it am I enjoying and which parts can I consistently maintain without breaking my will to write the stories.

And that seems to be a really (inaudible) set of pieces and I’m really glad of that pairing back. It definitely does seem to lead to, you know, solid results to do fewer things, but better. And that’s going to be the moral of our coming here. The driving kind of force is less but better. Now, over the course of this year, there were a few unexpected things that happen stuff we didn’t really plan for, or that had interesting, like ripple out effects. So Michele what surprised you over the last year? What happened that you were not expecting? 

Things we were not expecting in 2021 and what we learned from them

Michele Amitrani: I could have listed a billion different things, but I’m just going to focus on the important stuff here, which is the going wide adventure.

Going wide, Crystal, was a refreshing change because it really provided me with perspective, which I didn’t have before. I’m now used to the idea of having my books, my stories, to deal with them in really a lot of different stores instead of only one. And this realization required me the knowledge that takes more times to set all the things up.

We talked about these things Ben Galley’s episode, and the changes regarding our business as authors are important and how going wide can influence those changes. But it also gave me more security, more freedom in the way of diversification. For example, one of the things I didn’t really expect was that Kobo, which is one of the stores, really helped me push my mythological fantasy novellas.

Thanks to going wide. I was also able to forge connections with representatives from other stores, and the other thing that I didn’t expect again on Kobo, you have the opportunity to be part of one of their in-house promotion.

And I did try to take advantage of that. I think I participated in 24, 25 different of them, and that had an interesting, unexpected source of revenue and visibility and reviews for my books on that store. Again, connection with other people. Beyond the stores there are human beings. These (connections) were important. And it really made me realize how the unexpected sometimes can play in your favor, most time is not, but in this case, I wanted to give you a positive example of unexpected things. 

That was it, for my the unexpected and what happened. I wanted to keep it the tight. What can you tell us about that experience on your side? What unexpected things, positive or negative, happened to you?

Crystal Hunt: Well, there were, there were a few, there’s always surprising things, right? We can never predict what’s going to happen. One of the things that was super fun was when AppSumo popped into my inbox with a lifetime license for Published Drive. And I was like, wait, what? And so that I snapped up, we shared it with everybody we can think of and sent it out through all the newsletter channels and all the places just in case anybody was looking for that.

And I think that is a good example of why it’s really helpful to know, like have a good handle on which tools are you using, which things are critical and key to part of your process. So that if a deal pops up on something, you don’t have to even think about it, you know, exactly what will be of benefit to you.

And you can jump on that. And it also keeps you from just getting lured by all the shiny things. If you know, like these are the key pieces of my process and okay, these are the ways that I can potentially optimize those, then knowing that is super helpful. Another surprising thing was that I wrote the longest book I’ve written to date ironically, after promising myself that I was gonna actually just like focus on a short one.

My intention was to do Nano with three different projects to do three shorter stories. And in fact, that’s not what happened. So I ended up writing the longest book that I’ve written to date, which was 53,000 words, which is like, kind of, it’s like an actual book. So if we’re looking at like category romance kind of length it’s right there.

So that did surprise me. The reason I started writing short in the first place was I had never been able to get through to a book of that length and so I usually write in the 25 to 30,000 kind of arranged cause it’s kind of a sweet spot for me. So that was pretty fun. The other thing that I didn’t expect was how powerful it was going to be to disconnect the money side from the creative side.

And part of that was I had sort of stashed away enough money from the last couple of years and saved up to make sure that I was in a position not to feel the pressure to be releasing things in real time as they were finished and to give myself that space, to be able to really just focus on the creative side.

And so just the huge difference it made even of like, I was only checking my stats once a month at the end of the month after I had done all the creative stuff, you know, I did a few things to really try to disconnect that putting a specific week at the end of the month where I handle all the business things and set up all the promos for the coming month and really just dive into that, it meant not having to do it every day, and that I didn’t realize exactly how powerful and effective that was going to be. So I was actually surprised by how much of a difference that made. 

So that was pretty interesting. And that just leads me right into the conclusions that I’ve drawn from those experiences. And I think there’s three main things that I’ve found most useful in, especially if you’re thinking going wide.

So I’m great at like, okay, 12 week year, we’re going to plan the next quarter. We’re going to do all the things. And I like to plan a year out, but I’m not very oriented towards like the longer term planning cause I’m not patient. So I am great with the immediate time period that is up and coming that I can do something about.

Comes to going wide. It really is a longer term plan. And, you know, everything takes longer when you’re doing it in multiple platforms and setting up promos in multiple places and everything else. And so I think starting with a two year plan for going wide in terms of what you’re trying to do and accomplish and building those revenues back up and everything else is really important.

The second conclusion is that the more simple you can make your system and your processes, the better. There is strength in simplicity. There’s less places to get stuck. There’s less things to go wrong. There’s less distractions to be had. There are less rabbit holes to go down all of those things.

And so simplifying your process as much as you can is extremely important. And then building an happy environments around you, that support filtering out the rest of the distractions and support you, accomplishing things within the systems and the processes that you’ve set up. And we deal with a ton of this stuff.

All the specifics is basically what our podcast has been about for the last two years. And so if you’re looking at well, how do I prioritize things? Or how do I do this? Or how do I do that? You can go back and there are episodes for basically all of the bits and pieces around this. And I’m also going to suggest that you check out the Creative Academy for some workshops specifically focusing around ‘focus’ and you know, your work process stuff and everything else as well.

Cause we have a whole series of workshops in there that you can access for free. So definitely worth poking around and thinking about how you can build those habits to focus around your priority items. And for me, that did mean going back to just a couple of stickies, which we’ll talk about in a minute. Michele, what conclusions have you drawn from your experiences over the past year?

What we learned about going wide in 2021 and how this knowledge will influence our publishing journey

Michele Amitrani: Yeah, I also have a couple. The first one I agree with you: going wide is a philosophy of life more than a strategy. I started thinking it is a decision an author needs to take with open ayes. And again, I suggest to give it more of a one year and a half, two years. I know it sounds a lot, especially nowadays, anything that you say is going to be more than a week, people is going to freak out. So if you start dropping the bomb, but one year and a half, two years, it might be a long game. And it sounds like a long, long time, but I think it’s fair to say that it takes longer in the wide realm to build an audience of people that really care about your stories and you can benefit from this, but at the same time, you have to be patient and you can’t just stay still and not doing anything.

You have to promote your works and promote your works in, not one store, but in 12 different, it is going to take more time, more effort and more energy. And this is something we both agree on. I didn’t check her beforehand we just, this is the conclusion that we naturally, basically came up with after one year of going wide.

And the second point that I would like to make is that I learned now that I can only focus as a human being on two major things at the time in a year. So for 2020 was creating content, basically, that was my major thing. In 2021 was repackaging, polishing and translating. Two major things. In 2022 is going to be different than we’re going to talk about that.

But this is something that I’ve learned: only two major things at the time. No more. If I try, and attempt, that it’s going to happened what happened on my marketer’s side, which is a debacle and it’s not recommended. So learn from my mistakes. And this leads me to priorities and planning for 2022.

So what are we going to focus on the coming year? And why? Just to continue from that previous point, my focus for 2022 is going to be completing the release of the mythological fantasy series in both Italian and English that I’ve left. And then, and this is going to be the one huge thing, is going to be concentrating on writing longer works, this time in Italian.

So I’m not going to focus on writing shorter this year. I tried that for the past couple of years. I want to see, I want to reach out for something more, and I know that authors needs to stretch, and to hone their scale and I believe that I can’t remain always on the same 20, 30,000 words kind of mark. I know I can do those, I did seven of them.

I need to level up on that side. 2022 is going to be huge for me. And I’m very happy and excited to share that with you. It is also a reminder for my future self. I need to start crafting stories that people can really, really be part of and mythological fantasy novellas are good, but it was interesting, I read a review that said something on this line: this author can really craft interesting stories that are short, I wonder what he can do with longer works. I wonder that too. So I’m going to focus on that for 2022. And I’m planning on writing more science fiction than fantasy for 2022.

And to also sit down and assess how the mythological fantasy books did in the past year. And based on that, I’m going to take also some decision if it’s the case of continuing on that road, course correct, or doubling down. I don’t have the data for that decision so far, but this is what’s going to happen if everything goes smooth. Writing longer science-fiction books, it is an opportunity for me also to capitalize on what is still my best selling series. And as a stretch goal, I also would like to translate and adapt the science fiction series in English and to see how it goes in that market, if people are going to resonate with that, this is going to be huge because my science fiction series is very long.

It’s the opposite of the mythological fantasy. The shortest one is 90,000 words. The longest one is 210,000 words. So it’s not going to take 30 hours to translate one of these books, but hopefully it will give me a direction to follow. And either two of these things can happen. Either I go crazy by trying to do these huge projects, which is writing longer books and translating longer books, or I’m going to stretch, and I’m going to grow, and I’m going to learn new things that can help my writing self in the future.

And I really hope that is the something that is going to happen, or a balance things between the craziness and the creative self. I would also be willing to accept that. So I’m very excited for this 2022. And I’m also excited to know what is your planning, Crystal and your priorities for this 2022 and why?

Crystal Hunt: Well, I went through all of the things that I do sort of on a monthly basis and a weekly basis on a daily basis. And I did that simplify, simplify, simplify, simplify, and think about exactly what wants to be involved. And what I came down to is that there’s not really that many different tasks that I want to be doing on a regular basis.

And so my three big priorities for 2022: I want to write something each month. So it could be a short story. It could be a novella, it could be a novel, it could be finishing my piece of whatever our shared nonfiction book is in that current quarter. Whatever is lighting me up basically is what I want to focus on writing for each month. So writing something each month that kind of gets to done is the primary priority for every month for this next year. I want to see an increase in revenue each month on the business side, which really just requires content, sharing the content and then adding in whatever promotional activities or advertising makes sense for that.

And to also support that revenue goal and to support the releases of whatever it is that I’m writing. I want to increase my newsletter subscribers every month. So I’m taking not an end goal, even though I have numbers in mind of where I want that to be. I’m really just focusing on seeing the needle move in a positive direction every month, in each of those areas.

So adding some products to the catalog, seeing an increase in revenue and increasing the newsletter subscribers. So in order to do that, I figured out, okay, well, what do I need to do? I need to write a story. I need to edit a story. I need to publish a story or set up the next pre-order for whatever is the next open slot in the publication schedule for the year.

And just send out a newsletter once a month. I need to set up one promo thing for the coming month, to help me get new newsletter subscribers, or that will help increase revenue because those are my two non-related non-writing related goals. And then I need to pull stats and reflect on the month and see like, how did I do? Is there anything I can tweak to make it better for next month? What worked? What didn’t? Basically, what can I remove from the things that I’m doing that got in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish is the goal there. And, you know, because I know myself and I know that trying to do all of those marketing and publishing things while also trying to write a story does not work the new way I’ve kind of set things up for myself is that for the first three weeks of the month, my only job is to write and edit a story. Now I start with writing one and then the editing one is actually probably the story from the previous month that I wrote that has come back from copy edits or whatever and I can work my way through two stories at the same time is not doable for me. So first thing is writing, when I’m done with the writing I shift to editing, and then the final week in the month, then I work on setting up pre-orders and sending out newsletters and doing a promo thing and that’s kind of the week.

That’s not a writing week, it’s a business week and that will hopefully keep my business brain separate from my writing brain. And I’ve practiced this the last couple of months with our last two releases, we did the Creative Elfed and so I’m really hoping that I will keep that pattern going.

And that, that is going to work in terms of keeping the priorities where I want them to be, keeping my daily life in a pattern that I want to live fitting in some time for, you know, movement and exercise and some time for quality time with friends and still managing to move things forward on a daily basis in the writing career side of things.

Now we promised we were going to do a little look back over the past two years of the podcast. We have done some really fabulous interviews with some really great people and if you are a newer listener, you may not have listened to all of those. So there are 66 other episodes that you can dive into, which we really wanted to just highlight that, you know, what we were talking about is not specifically time sensitive.

There’s a ton of fun content in those archives, which we would highly recommend you dig into. Now, Michele looking back over the past two years of the podcast, what are some highlights for you or do you have, what would you say to people when we’re thinking about what we’ve accomplished in the past two years?

This is not a farewell

Michele Amitrani: I think one of the elements that I really enjoyed was connecting with other authors and getting to talk with you every week or every couple of weeks, wasn’t bad at all. I will say was it was very interesting to bounce ideas off of because we are different kinds of writers. There is no exactly same author anywhere, and we had the chance to become brain, to share experiences and to also connect with the listener in this particular way of interviewing other people, for example, or sharing the things that we did, mistakes included as you can see in this last report. Many of the things that I reported were mistakes and very big ones, but again, this was something that I really liked what we did and what we shared, in these two years. I think if I can say that, that it made the Strategic Authorpreneur Podcast more three-dimensional there were times where I honestly almost teared because it was that personal for me.

And it was also a benchmark. Every single time I connected with you and we were starting a new episode for me it was go time. It was, it was my job, and it always, always helped me focus with what was important for me as an author and how I could provide more value with my answers to the listeners.

So I think this is something that it’s huge for me that I will remember, and that I will take with me in my authorpreneur career and this is the most important thing as I look back at the SAP podcast, which is a a combination and mixture of Crystal Hunt, of Michele Amitrani, all the guests that we had in this past two years and it’s a mixture of experiences and hopefully some of these experiences are going to help, even if it’s only one listener, to change their authorpreneur career. I think it’s going to be making the old podcast project worthwhile.

Crystal Hunt: Now you may have gotten a clue from the way Michele is talking about things in the past sense that we have to make some choices, because as we’ve been talking about prioritizing things is really hard and when you get to the point where you like all the things you’re doing, it’s extremely challenging and super hard to make those choices about what gets to stay in the calendar for the coming year and what does not.

And so one of the things that we have come to realize is that it takes a lot of time each week to produce the podcast and edit it up and do distribution and share it out with people and make sure that we are, you know, ready for that and then build it into the schedule. So we cannot do everything at once.

And we are both in a place where we are going to super prioritize our writing adventures for the coming year. So we are going to take a break from recording and we’re going to give ourselves some really focused time. Now we won’t say we’ll never pop up again because we might, we have no idea what’s going to happen in the future.

But what we do know is that all the existing episodes are going to be available online, indefinitely. They’re out there in the world. You can enjoy those anytime you like. And also you can come and find us where we are working on our writing in various spheres. And you can also even come into the Creative Academy.

There’s a link in the chat. So You can absolutely join us in there. There are workshops and interviews and all kinds of fun stuff that you can explore in there. And for me, you can also find me at, which any projects that I’m currently working on will show up there.

And that is great. And as well is the site for my fiction stuff. And so you can come and check out what’s going on, sign up for the newsletter, read some free books, and you’ll be able to follow along with all the new releases and things there. So if you’re looking for authors side of things and you want the non-fiction kind of stuff, then the Creative Academy for writers is your hangout.

And if you were looking for some fun hometown romance with a little bit of comedy, a little bit of magic, a little bit of intrude fence, maybe a little mystery in the mix there then is where you want to come. Now Michele. Where should people find you if they are looking to connect in the new year?

Where can you find us

Michele Amitrani: So you can find me at my website, which is my first and last So, and I spell it because it’s very difficult to pronounce. If you have any question also directly to me, I will be at the Creative Academy because I’m part of that and I’m proud of be. So I encourage you as Crystal said, if you’ve never met the lively bunch of Creative Academy folks definitely come and join us. And I just wanted to take one last second to say that really was a great experience and that I’d really like to do something like this similar again in the future. Maybe when I will have something a bit more to share something of value, and hopefully I will be grown as an author. So I just want to thank you so, so, so much for listening to us and for believing in our podcast. 

Crystal Hunt: All right. So if you have found value in our podcast over the past two years, if you’ve had some fun listening we would love it if you click the buy us a coffee button, either in the show notes or from our website, and we will use that to support whatever adventures we are going to have in the next little while, and probably to buy one of those little mini bottles of champagne, so we can toast the last two years worth of fantastic episodes and all of you as well. 

Now we do want to hear about your publishing adventures, or if you had any particular favorite moments from listening to the podcast or an episode you found particularly helpful, feel free to hit reply to the newsletter that we send about this episode and tell us how things are going basically. I may still occasionally send you out a little note when there’s a particularly good deal. So if you’re on the mailing list, don’t feel like you have to remove yourself. You can still hang out there. And then if we do any content in the future, you will find out about it.

It will show up in your inbox. All right, well, friends, I think the moment has come. We all have an awful lot of writing to do over this year so we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy resetting your goals and priorities for the coming year. And we look forward to seeing you at some author events around the community soon.

Take care. 

Michele Amitrani: Thank you so much and wish you an amazing authorpreneur journey.