End of the Year Goal Check In

I wrote some goals for 2019 back in December and we’re full circle now! I did a 6 months check in since these goals were only for the first 6 months of the year anyways.

 

Goals for the first six months of 2019

Goals have to be measurable in order to know if you’ve reached them or not. Although I’m not happy to focus so heavily on numbers, it is an easy way to measure a goal. My goal is to increase my audience and have a successful poetry career. These numbers will help me keep track of those goals.

 

The Blog

Work on writing a media kit

Contact companies for sponsorship (and actually get one!)

Gain another 1,000 followers

Update: I’ve looked into some samples of media kits but I still don’t think my stats would stand out enough for it to make sense to create one just yet.

I’ve joined some other affiliation programs that I’ve been working on instead of doing any sponsored posts yet. There are some programs that have tougher qualifications so I still need to work on my stats. I am making a small bit of money from google Adsense so it’s great to see me recovering some of my self hosting spendings.

Debatably Dateable has gained over 1,770 followers since December and I couldn’t be happier! I love love love watching this blog grow! I hope to get another thousand in these next 6 months!

 

The Final Results: 3968 June, to 5719 dec = 1750, from my 5k monthly views article, my traffic is growing which helps my monetary goals.

 

Cracked Open

Between GoodReads and Amazon, have 20 reviews

Get 25 more books sold

The Update: I have 18 reviews so I can’t be too upset there but I did not even get close to selling 25 more books so that stings a little. I don’t see these numbers getting much higher as the year goes on. I’m not sure how to help boost sales as the book continues to age.

 

The Final Results: I thought Where I Ache sales would be the only ones coming in after the summer but surprisingly Cracked Open still sees some action on Amazon so that’s great news.

 

Social Media

Twitter – gain 2,000 followers

Instagram– gain 1,000 followers

The Update: For Twitter I only gained 1,270 so far but feel free to come check out what I talk about there! Oddly enough, for Instagram I’ve gained over 2,125 followers so it looks like I got my goals switched around! I hope to get to the 2k+ on Twitter in the Fall.

 

The Final Results: I finally started taking a deeper look into these numbers and found it was wasted efforts! So I’ve switched my focus to Pinterest, read more about why I made these changes here.

 

Next Poetry Collection – Where I Ache!

I want to add 50 exclusive poems to my next collection before I work on publishing it

Have 10 reviews before release date

Sell twice as many as Cracked Open (over the course of the year)

 

The Update: I have 55 exclusive poems! I am absolutely ecstatic about that! Cracked Open had 20 illustrations and Where I Ache has somewhere around 35 so I’m also pumped about that!

Where I Ache was only released 2 weeks ago and there’s already 14 reviews on Goodreads so I’m very happy about that! Definitely check them out!

I’m only 2 weeks in of course but I’m already even with Cracked Open’s first month of book sales so that’s a good start for me!

 

The Final Results: Where I Ache currently has 20 reviews on Goodreads and another 5 on Amazon so I think I did a bit more work during release time on my second collection and I’m happy to see it paid off. Not sure what I’ll want to do about my third collection in the new year.

All those reviews have unfortunately not resulted in more sales than Cracked Open had in it’s first 5 months. My third collection is returning to more Cracked Open style so we’ll see if that has anything to do with it.

 

Because I don’t want to solely focus on numbers, here are some

 

Non numerical goals:

Connect with new readers who resonate with my poetry.

Have my poetry help someone through a difficult time.

Have a company see value in my writing.

Keep a healthy number of articles in queue.

 

The Update: I’ve definitely found new readers and also fellow poets through my Poet Interview Series! I’ve been so lucky to connect with new readers who were interested in reviewing Where I Ache and many have said the sensitive topics covered in the collection have helped them remember they are not alone.

I haven’t really pursued this one aside from submitting Where I Ache to one of the major publishing companies. I’m not sure that I will do much for the rest of the year for this.

I have over 30 posts in queue for the past several months and it is amazinggggg! (knock on wood)

The Final Results: I still have not made the jump to working with companies and I don’t think I will in 2020, my only focus would probably be Google Adsense and working on more traffic to eventually switch to another ad company.

The past few months I hover around 50 articles in queue would has been so awesome and even with that I’ve added more posts into my schedule. At the beginning of the year I would post 10 times a month, then I went to every Monday, Wed, and Friday posting about 12-13 times a month and lately I’ve made the jump to about 15-17 times a month so I’m hoping that will all help with traffic and the like.

 

My goals for 2020 will mostly follow the same path of check the sales of my books and trying to increase site traffic so I’m unsure if I’ll set specific numbers for this coming year. Thanks for following me along through 2019!

Interview with Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well – Installment 17

Today we’re flying all the way to Australia to talk to poet, author, and illustrator Lauren Hancock. Also known on her blog and instagram as Alice Well! I can’t thank Lauren enough for the time and effort she put into collaborating with me. Check out my review of her recent publication here. Now let’s begin!

 

Where did you get your ideas from for “Our Whimsical World”?

My ideas generally came after drawing the image for the stories. When creating art, I become lost in the process, because it can be such an enjoyable state of mind to be in, being awash with a sense of creativity and joy when creating an image that is fun, lively and bright.

From then my imagination would take over the story point of view: having an image to work from allows me freedom to create. Having words written first is more limiting, because I need the consequently drawn image to adhere to the already-present words. My ideas mainly come spontaneously, either before the drawing was commenced, during, or after. This process speaks of how when I create something “All is well”: Alice Well, the creative name I am also known as.

 

How important was it for your stories in “Our Whimsical World” to have a moral or a message?

It was important for me to write stories that were not just stories. They needed to have depth; a message, a moral, something for the readers to learn from. It was not enough for me to simply write something cute that entertained. I wanted there to be a reason for reading these stories, and for a message to be quietly presently to sink into the minds of the children or older readers while they felt they were simply being entertained.

 

Did you consider that some vocabulary used may be too complex for younger readers? If so, why did you make this decision?

Using complex vocabulary that may be out of the scope of some of the readers provides them with the opportunity to learn new words and reach for a greater understanding of language than they had previously grasped. It is like when my former violin teacher would present myself and other students with pieces of music that were slightly out of our level of expertise: – it extended our skillset and encouraged improvement for our musicality and proficiency. The same idea is present here.

 

I notice on your website that your writing has taken a different direction from the style that your book is written in. Could you explain this a little further?

Yes, my writing has altered from short, generally amusing and light-hearted stories, to more serious and deeper themed poetry. It explores the self, love, acceptance, longing, encouragement for others, and being hurt by the actions of others. I felt it was time to move on from the short story style and begin to create poetry that spoke of my internal being, to show the vulnerability I am willing to display. Hopefully my poetry shows a depth of self and the revelations I speak of can resonate within some of my readers. Knowing or at least hoping that others can or are able to relate to one’s words and/or works is one of the greatest feelings we can hope for as poets, writers, or artists.

 

At what age did your passion for writing surface?

I was a fervent reader from a very young age. My grandparents and parents provided me with books upon books — Enid Blyton’s tales, Peter Rabbit, and so on, and I read these increasing collections with vigour and excitement. Being immersed with written language and beautiful imagery from such a young age allowed my own vocabulary to develop over time and my imagination grew and grew. I turned to writing to create worlds and stories that lived in my mind, and I still have the collection of writings and illustrations to view.

 

What did you find that the most difficult thing about self-publishing?

For me, the hardest thing in self-publishing my book was the marketing/promotional side of things. I went into the experience with little idea of what I would need to do or how to prepare myself to introduce my new book to potential readers. I knew, but didn’t completely realise that the responsibility initially fell entirely upon me to generate interest and attention. But, I have been blessed to have my editor who has greatly helped me along the way with advice and support when I most need it, and he has made the marketing side of things clearer for me.

Sometimes I feel like when I do mention my book online that I may be viewed as too pushy, when I am really just wanting to share what I created with others. Being relatively new to this blogging community, I wasn’t aware that people organised ‘blog book tours’, or what ARCs were, or anything like that, but I know that for next time around I can be more organised and prepared in an upcoming launch of a second book.

 

 

Get your copy from Amazon and check out Lauren’s Goodreads too!

Check out her Alice Well Blog and Instagram next!

Where I Ache Review by Venus Davis (from Maria at Sampaguitas)

Maria at Sampaguitas is a fantastic magazine to submit your piercing yet tender pieces to. The magazine encompasses so many different forms from short stories and essays to poetry and photography. If you’re a creative artist, definitely give them a look!

I lucked out by having a regular contributor Venus Davis review my collection Where I Ache!

“In Megan O’Keeffe’s honesty through poetry, I felt seen in a way that I never have before. This book felt like a gift from a close friend. This collection is a hand reaching out to hold the hand of anyone who has ever dealt with grief, depression, heartache, and the massive love for yourself that builds from going to hell and back.”

Read the Full Review here

I’m so thankful for any review I receive, if you are interested in my collection please get in touch! (ddateable@gmail.com)

The choice to self publish

The dream for me had always been to be picked up by a big publishing company in the future of my writing career. I knew that would not happen right away and self publishing some books would almost be like building up a resume. I could grow my own fan base, I would be showing that I’m not just a one hit wonder, and I would show that I have the passion and commitment to continue on for many more years. 

 

There’s definitely stress and frustration that comes with putting a book together but I do love having control over every decision and making my collection EXACTLY how I want it. As I’ve never been traditionally published, I don’t know when the hand off happens exactly. But I’m sure there’s Cover Designers and Illustrators that can give your collection a complete makeover – a makeover you may not want. You can be included in the conversation but how could you disagree with the professionals if you didn’t like the design?

 

A big plus of signing with a traditional company is the marketing resources that can be dedicated to getting your book to consumers’ hands. When you self publish all the marketing and promoting falls on you. The thing is I’ve seen some collections that were published by traditional companies but barely have 50 reviews on Amazon. I know reviews don’t equal sales but one of the big 5 publishing houses should have enough resources to ensure their books are being promoted well. 

 

Traditional publishing companies have been in the industry for a long time, they have a lot of connections, and they know all the ins and outs to get your book in front of the right people. But will they use that knowledge on you, that’s no guarantee as this recent thread on Twitter speaks to. 

 

After publishing my first two collections, I’ve learned I want control of all creative decisions and I want as much promotional help as possible, it seems there are plenty of examples in the industry that traditional companies don’t help me with either of those things. 

 

Being picked up by a publishing company could be the greatest thing to ever happen to your writing career. It could be the greatest to happen to mine as well, I’m just saying that I no longer feel that hungry desire to chase after one of the big 5 houses. I’m happy self publishing. It’s difficult at some points and I know traditional would have it’s own difficulties as well. Self publishing has been making steady strides in this industry for years and I am here for it’s next step.

 

Interview with Poet Robin Williams – Installment 7

This month’s Poet is talented beyond her years with 6 publications in just 2 years! Robin Williams’ poetry is as much of a fighter and activist as she is, standing for equality, lgbt+ rights, mental heath, and more. Along with poetry, Robin lets her creativity out in short stories, polymer clay designs, and hand-made crafts. This artist is just getting started, so let’s get to know Robin now!

Your poems focus heavily on an array of sensitive subjects, are there poems that are just so raw that they will never be shared with an audience?

Every poem I’ve ever written has most likely been shared with an audience. There are times I do write a piece that is very raw and I question myself if it should be shared, but a big part of me thinks that it must be shared. I feel that not only am I reflecting myself through my art to heal and analyze, but that someone somewhere is doing the same thing when reading my poetry. Together, we face the raw moments in life and I think that really makes a difference to those who feel like they’re alone in the world.

What was the idea behind publishing April Showers Bring May Flowers and Scars of Apollo just one day apart?

Scars of Apollo had been a planned announcement for almost a year and a half. April Showers bring May Flowers just sort of swept in through the window during the poetry month of April. It really all was just a spur of the moment but it made sense in the end. SoA was to bring healing, to share healing, and ASbMF delivered that healing further through being a collection for donations.

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Check out more photos from Robin’s Instagram

 

With six published collections (which is extremely impressive in 2 years time!), do you have a favorite?

(Thank you!) My books are literally my children and as every parent knows, to pick a favorite is the worst thing you could do. But I must say, yes, I have a favorite. Scars of Apollo has really brought me so much growth and positivity that my life has taken a trek in the best direction. Of course, I’m very proud of my other works, but SoA is my future and I like that alot.

 

I know you stand for a lot of causes, is there anything that’s really inspiring your current poetry in particular?

I’m at a mix between wanting to stir up some work that introduces readers to what I believe in, (I’m tasting a bit of witchcraft at the moment) and really breaking down my past year in reporting sexual assault. I think many people find it hard to not only grasp the horrible events many face, but hard to also share those events. I’ve seen my poetry taking on the role of a fighter who is many emotions; anger, guilt, regret, happiness, relief, and determination. Pulling strings from all parts of myself has set a sail within that I hope more people will board.

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See more hand-made creations from Robin’s FactioMagicis shop

How did you get into creating polymer clay designs?

It all started with YouTube. I consider myself very crafty; I enjoy getting my hands messy, leaving paper scraps everywhere, and letting glue stick to the table and my fingers. When I came across some videos of how to craft the polymer clay, I was immediately intrigued and purchased some clay the next day. From there, I went through trial and error to get the creations I wanted. It turned out to not only be a fun activity in my spare time, but proved to be a little therapeutic. I’ve even decided to include some in my new subscription boxes!

 

To get in touch with Robin or purchase one of her many creations, you can reach out –

on Instagram, on Amazon, on her blog, and on her shop !

Interview with Poet Shelby Eileen – Installment 5

I’m so happy to welcome our next poet Shelby, who released her latest collection Goddess of the Hunt this February. Shelby is really blazing her own path in poetry with this collection as she reimagines greek goddess Artemis’ navigation through her own aromanticism and asexuality.  Aside from her great writing, Shelby’s honest, funny, and sweet personality shines through in this interview so take a look!

 

Is one of your books your favourite and why?

Depends on my mood, honestly! I feel like my books are on rotation for which one’s my
favourite at any given time. Sometimes I love them all and sometimes I hate them all. This is a wishy washy answer but IT’S THE TRUTH!!! I think it’s hard to choose because I truly put the same amount of effort and emotion and courage into all of them to make them real and to make them available so their value is completely equal to me.

 

Can you tell us more about the importance of representing aromanticism and asexuality in Goddess of The Hunt for the poetry community?

Yes! It was really important to me, and I hope to other people, that I represented aromanticism and asexuality so unapologetically in GoTH for many reasons. As a poet, I want to push the boundaries of what I’m writing, what’s being consumed in the modern poetic canon, and what embodies “poetry”. I don’t want people to believe that the only poetry that comes from modern poets is love and heartbreak poetry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of thematic poetry! I’ve written it in the past, and I’m going to write more of it in the future, but it’s so important to me that we explore different types of narratives and relationships in poetry (and other genres) in an effort to normalize such experiences outside of the standard heteronormative alloromantic and allosexual experience.
I wrote an aroace Artemis because I’m an aroace person who craves representation in strong, central roles, not just in side characters or characters who are mistreated and discarded in a narrative and are shown no respect for their identity. Marginalized people have very little media to consume that’s actually safe and authentic. I wanted GoTH to be a safe, powerful, uplifting book for aro/ace spec people in the poetry community, but also one that didn’t pretend that aro/ace spec people don’t face ignorance because that’s not reality. I wrote what I find to be the most comforting rep when I read it in other stories; a character who comes up against obstacles but ultimately overcomes them by knowing their own self-worth, and gaining confidence to be who they truly are, and encourage others to do the same.

Can you take us through your publishing process?

Self-publishing is such a unique process that probably looks different for everyone who does it, and my own process is far from perfected, even though I’ve gone through it 3+ times. Basically, I write the thing first. Once I have a complete manuscript (or at least approx. 80% complete manuscript- minus editing!), I reach out to an artist for a cover commission (shoutout to my most favourtie cover artist, Izza Thapa- @iz_draws on insta). The cover is super important to me because the complete freedom to make the cover exactly what you want it to be is a major privilege in publishing as a whole. Once I get the ball rolling on the cover, or maybe even at the same time as I’m doing that, I set up my new book on KDP and Goodreads (KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing- the platform I use to publish my paperbacks and ebooks). After my manuscript is written and I have the basic technical aspects set up, then I usually do a deep dive into editing.

Then I get a critique partner (or a few) involved so that I can do another round of edits based on an outside perspective because at this point, I’m probably so tired of my own manuscript and think it’s trash. After all the editing, I write the dedication and acknowledgements (always I do this last, I find these two things really hard to write!). Last thing I do (usually with the help of my sweet fellow author friend, M Hollis- @mhollis on twitter) is format my manuscript for kindle compatibility. When I first started self-publishing, the kindle aspect confused the hell out of me and it’s still the thing I’m least competent with so it’s become habit for me to leave it to the very last.

And after all that (that which doesn’t much feel like a “process” more like a jumbled mess of writing, rereading what I wrote, editing, tinkering on KDP, and leaning on the kindness and competence of my artist/publishing/author friends) I have a book ready for the world. Input all the remaining info necessary on KDP and Goodreads, and hit publish!

 

What makes a poem good in your opinion?

In my very own specific opinion (which is unimportant in the grand scheme of things), a poem is good if it comes from the heart and survives editing with the same vibe and intention that it began with. It’s a good poem if it expresses an emotion or relays a circumstance that I can’t personally relate to but feel moved by anyway. It’s a good poem if having gotten the words out of you gives you a sense of both peace and pride.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to be apart of this Shelby!! Buy Goddess of the Hunt here, Connect with Shelby on Twitter and check out her other collections on Goodreads!