New year, new resolutions: 2018

As usual, at the end of December I find myself taking stock of the year that is coming to an end and setting goals for the next one.
Writing this article was relatively easy in the past years, as many of the projects I would undertake depended on factors under my complete control. One year ago, however, I had to limit my resolutions, as I didn’t know if some things that were at stake would have come to completion and therefore I wasn’t able to plan anything specific after the month of May. Now for 2018 it’s going to be even more complicated due to some pending matters, one of which ended just at the beginning of December, and then in the next few months maybe I will be able to understand a little better in which direction I should address my efforts. However, there are some fixed points: some resolutions on which I have clear ideas.

But let’s go by order, starting with the resolutions expressed a year ago that I managed to complete:
- I completed “Beyond the Limit” (the final book of the Detective Eric Shaw trilogy), I did the editing of the book and I published it on May 21 in Italian;
- I stopped for about a month after the completion of the first draft of this book, but I cannot say that I fully recharged my batteries, because I was quite taken by family and even health issues (I became allergic to mites);
- I tried to commit myself to promote the Detective Eric Shaw trilogy by means of offline events, starting with a book signing in Carbonia (Italy) a few days after the release of the last book. It was a very entertaining event and many people attended it. Unfortunately, no more events followed, even though I received several proposals, because due to organizational reasons, and/or due to lack of time on my side, it wasn’t possible to do them. But I trust that it will happen in the future;
- I devoted some time to FantascientifiCast (Italian podcast about science fiction), even if only in the first part of the year. In the second part it wasn’t possible simply because I didn’t watch any new science fiction series on TV and I saw very few new science fiction films. Moreover I mostly read old science fiction books. Fortunately, the second season of “Westworld” and “Mars” will be released in 2018, so I’ll probably come back to the podcast;
- I read about 52 books (I say about, because I’m writing this article well in advance, but I’m confident of reaching that number by 31 December);
- until to September I managed to schedule in advance the posts for this blog (and also for the Italian one), then I actually let it go (except for this post), because at the moment this isn’t a priority. I have a series of articles in progress (in Italian) and I have to write several reviews of books that I read, but beside this I’m going to write on my blog only when I feel I have something interesting to say, without trying to do it as a duty;
- I think I managed to plan my working time a little better. I enjoyed last summer, thanks to the particularly stable climate here in Sardinia. I also had a nice trip (a cruise to Denmark and Norway). In autumn I was able to dedicate to some interesting things (I’m writing about it later in this article) and to resume a certain work pace, after a long pause from writing that I really needed;
- finally I took stock of my first five years as a self-publisher. This is obviously a positive evaluation, but at the same time it is accompanied by the awareness that many things have changed in the publishing market and this requires the development of new approaches.

What wasn’t I able to do?
Unfortunately in 2017 I couldn’t repeat the experience of the class I taught in Varese, but I already knew that there was a risk of skipping at least one year. Hopefully I’ll do that again in 2018.
Moreover I haven’t written so much, but this was my choice. I started writing again, very slowly, in November, knowing that I have to increase my pace on January.

What else did I do or happened to me in 2017?
First of all I found an agent to manage the translation rights of some of my books, in particular of the Detective Eric Shaw trilogy. I came to this person after almost one year and a half of seeking representation, during which I discussed with other agents about a possible collaboration without being able to find the right agreement. Working with her took me some time to prepare the material she needed. In fact, this person does not speak Italian and has therefore no way to read some of the books she is representing, at least until they are translated into English. This forced me to write very detailed synopses for her. And I hate writing synopsis!
We are still at the beginning of our working relationship and I don’t have big illusions about it, but it represents a first step towards my search for new ways to reach more readers in markets where I might never otherwise arrive.

The second important event, which is also the most recent (it happened at the beginning of December), was the reversion of the English translation rights of “The Mentor” (first book in the Detective Shaw trilogy) by Amazon Publishing.
This suddenly put me in front of new choices and potential opportunities.

In the past months, while waiting for this to happen, I decided to resume studying specifically some aspects of the English language. I started studying this language as a child and I use it for work and in my private life for about twenty years (since I have access to the Internet). Moreover I have already translated other books in English (the “Red Desert” series and “Kindred Intentions”). But now with the reversion of the rights of “The Mentor” and with the collaboration with a British agent I need to make a step change.
Well, to tell the truth, all this is fun for me, since it involves practicing a foreign language, as well as reading books, watching films and TV series because I need to improve my writing skills and listening skills.
So, after a few months spent studying (let’s call it this way), I’m translating into English again: I started a new translation of “The Mentor”.

In 2017 I also followed nine MOOCs (Mass Open Online Courses), thanks to which I learned several things that will be more or less directly useful for my work. Some have been a kind of research for future fiction projects, others helped to improve my English, others to broaden my knowledge of fiction and writing in general, and others to add more knowledge to my scientific education. Among these, undoubtedly the most interesting (and long: eight weeks) was “Moons”, a course on the moons of the Solar System organised by The Open University on FutureLearn.
Apparently not satisfied, I already registered to five more courses for 2018 and I tend to think that others will be added.

Although I haven’t written much this year, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t create new stories. I have in fact written many notes, outline sketches and sometimes complete outlines for nine future book projects. These include also a short prequel (a novella) of the Detective Shaw trilogy, of which I already have a complete outline, although I don’t know yet when (or if) I’m going to write the book. It’s just a matter of deciding to write it.
In addition to these nine projects, there is also “Sirius. In caduta libera” (Sirius. Free Falling), but I will talk about it in the resolutions for the new year.

Among the new experiences in 2017 is Wattpad. Actually I have an account on the site for a couple of years and in the past I just published a preview of two books in English. Since last October I started to be interested in the Italian readers and, out of curiosity, I started posting my old fan fiction “La morte รจ soltanto il principio” (Death Is Only the Beginning). Its publication on Wattpad was completed just before Christmas (sorry, it’s in Italian only). It was also a way to review it for the umpteenth time and see if I could use it to find some more readers.
I don’t think I would ever use Wattpad to write a project in instalments, but it could be an interesting tool to do some promotional experiments.

At last, but not least, I started writing “Self-publishing lab: Il mestiere dell’autoeditore” (in Italian), a book based on the self-publishing class I taught at the University of Insubria in 2016.

In short, in the end you can’t say that I did nothing in 2017, can you?

Image by Tomasz Rozkosz
Image by Tomasz Rozkosz
And now here are my resolutions for 2018:
1) write and publish “Sirius. In caduta libera” (Sirius. Free Falling) in Italian, the fourth part in the Aurora saga. I’m starting to write it immediately after the holiday season and I intend to publish it, as planned, on 30 November. Speaking of this book, I will say more on it, when its translation is started. For now I only say that it is set about five years before “The Isle of Gaia (I must translate this one and another book in the saga yet), it’s main character is Hassan Qabbani (you know him from “Red Desert”) and that the story takes mostly place in Earth orbit;
2) finish translating “The Mentor” into English within the first few months of the new year (including the editing and proofreading process). This project is a priority, as I would like to have it available as soon as possible in its final version to evaluate the various opportunities for republication and promotion of the trilogy on the English market. In this regard, I would also like to be able to start the translation of the other books in the trilogy (maybe complete the second one), but I’m not setting any deadline now. Anyway, I promise that I’ll do my best to have the whole trilogy published in English as soon as possible;
3) complete the first draft of “Self-publishing lab: Il mestiere dell’autoeditore”. I would love to complete its final draft as well, but I prefer not to set any deadline. This is my first non-fiction book and it requires a different attention on my part both for the content and, above all, for the packaging. When I have completed it, I will program the details of its publication and promotion;
4) read longer books. In past years I decided that I would read an average of one book a week. I realise now that this is not for me, as it forces me to read several short or not particularly long books to achieve the goal. I don’t think it makes sense. As a reader my ideal novel has at least 400 pages, but if it has 800 or even more, and it’s a good book, it even becomes perfect to me, because it has a more complex plot. And I love complex plots. So I decided not to set a minimum number of books a year, but a minimum length (for example, 400 pages on average) for about 80% of the books I will read in 2018. Moreover, among these at least one third will be novels in British English, since this is the English in which I am translating my own books.

That’s all: only four resolutions, but all important and under my full control, except causes of force majeure.
What do you think?
Of course I have more projects, but I prefer to tell you about them when I decide which one to prioritise.

As usual, I want to conclude this article thanking all my loved ones, my friends, my collaborators, and my readers. With you, thanks to you and also for you, I do this work with determination and passion. And my results are also partly yours.
Thank you so much.

I wish you all a 2018 full of satisfactions and, if you like, I would be happy to know your resolutions in the comments of this article or on the various social networks in which I’m sharing it.
As we say in Italy, have a good end and good start!

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