New year, new resolutions: 2020

Isn’t it a bit strange for you too to see this year that is about to start made by two identical numbers? In the 2010s we reached the imagined future of science fiction films such as “Back to the Future” and “Blade Runner”, but in the next few days the 2020s will begin and I can’t help but think that there are no more excuses: the future is now. This means that I have to roll up my sleeves and make the things I care about happen. This is especially true of my publishing activity.
2019 was the first year since 2012 that I didn’t publish any books, but at the same time it was one of my most productive years. In fact, I wrote over 220 thousand words divided into two projects, which will see the light in 2020, and I continued a third that will develop immediately after and throughout 2021. To all this new ideas and prospects are added, which are still in the planning stage.

But, as always, let’s see first of all what resolutions for 2019 I managed to keep. Again this time they are three out of four, but I haven’t totally put aside the missing one, unlike what had happened in the previous year.
Here they are:
- I completed the first draft of “Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore”. In fact, I’m already well on track with the editing process. Although I have just found out that I need to add a new short section (since just ten days ago Amazon Advertising was made available in Italy and I can’t help but include information about it in the book), the book will be published in the first half of the new year (probably in April);
- I started the first draft of “Nave stellare Aurora” (Starship Aurora) and am well over half of it, since I have reached the third part out of the four planned. I started it just this month with the writing of chapter 10 of the book and I will continue immediately after the holidays, and I am quite in line with my schedule;
- I have read many beautiful books, some unexpectedly. This year I have taken up an old practice, namely that of reading several books at the same time. There were times when they were even six! This allowed me to carry out readings that otherwise I would have abandoned, since I hadn’t feel immediately involved at the beginning of the story. And in doing so I discovered beautiful stories. In addition, I have also continued to read non-fiction books constantly, the content of which is already coming in handy. Finally, the parallel reading of several books allowed me to keep Italian and English trained at the same time, without one language having an excessive effect on the mastery of the other. It’s always difficult to make sure that my writing in Italian is not adversely affected by my constant use of English and, conversely, that the English translation of my books is able to proceed without suffering the interference of my native language. However, I believe that this year there was a further improvement in my ability to profitably use these inevitable forays of one language into another, both to enrich my writing and to reach a more natural use of English during the translation process, and at the same time it’s becoming more immediate for me to switch from one to the other, while keeping them as separate as possible in my mind.

And then there is the purpose that I have not been able to bring to the end, namely to complete the English translation of “Syndrome”. I have to say that for long periods, especially in spring, I have been constant, although translating into English is a much slower operation than writing and obviously translating into Italian. Then, however, the other two projects I was following, the first draft of “Nave stellare Aurora” and that of “Self-publishing lab”, to which the revision of the latter was added, took away all my time, forcing me to stop working on “Syndrome” at just approximately 18 thousand words, against the expected 84 thousand ones.
I’m definitely behind with this project and, at least until April, I will continue to have little time for it, but then things will change.

What else did I do in 2019?
To begin with, I once again taught my “Self-publishing laboratory in multimedia systems” at the University of Insubria, in Varese, to which a conference on the Moon landing (together with Fabio Pagan, Piero Benvenuti and astronaut Franco Malerba) was added. I’ll speak about this extensively in one of the next articles in this blog. In the meantime you can watch the two videos of the conference “Il giorno della Luna” (in Italian), by clicking here.

Furthermore, I attended four MOOCs , the last of which I finished just a few days ago, passing the final test with full marks (how nerd I am!). Probably the most interesting of these four was “In the Night Sky: Orion”, which starting from the constellation of Orion, takes students on a space journey between stars, black holes and galaxies. But I also want to suggest “Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential”(the one I just finished), which taught me a lot of interesting things, including the scientific reason (I didn’t even know it existed) why men are statistically more attracted by scientific subjects compared to women, although there is no difference in the predisposition to them due to gender. The reason is related to the lesser tendency to verbal activity of men, caused by hormonal differences. And, after all, it did not surprise me at all, since it’s known to anyone that we women speak much more! But now I know that there is a scientific explanation that has implications for other areas as well.
It’s clear that on this topic (but also on other treated in the course) I feel a bit of a statistical anomaly, even if, on second thought, I love science, I have always found it extremely stimulating to work in the scientific field and to study and understand the science behind everything around me, but I realise that talking or writing about science (even that of fiction) is completely natural to me (coincidentally, what did I find myself doing?). And, when something is easy for you to do, it tends inexorably to attract you.
If I have intrigued you, take a look at the videos of the course. It’s free.

Going back to my 2019, what else did I do?
I travelled a little. In addition to having granted myself two short forays in Milan complete with a rock concert (Tears For Fears and Def Leppard), I had two real holidays, including a cruise. Moreover, I attended an interesting conference organised by the Italian Space Agency here in Cagliari (Sardinia: A Gateway to Space) and I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Sardinia Radio Telescope. And above all I forced myself so have total breaks of 2-3 days immediately after every 4-5 of continuous work (each of which always includes over 12 hours of work).

Furthermore, I continued to carry out the advertising campaigns on Facebook for my books, also extending it to thrillers (I had started with the Aurora Saga). I have had good results for most of the year and now, after a break during the Christmastime, starting from 1 January I’m going activate a new campaign and we will see how it goes.

Finally, as I said above, I have always dedicated (and intend to continue to do so) a part of my time to reading and learning new things related to various marketing activities to be applied to the promotion of my books. And I will use what I learned shortly as I wait for the release of “Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore”. I’m in fact preparing a publication dedicated to it at Medium (in Italian), which I’m going to launch shortly, separated from this one, in which I speak more generally about myself and my work. It will probably be a short-term project, but it will allow me to test some promotional strategies, in view of the publication in English of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy.

And now we come to the resolutions for 2020:
1) finishing with the editing of and publishing “Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore” and see how it goes, also thanks to the use of the aforementioned publication. This is my first non-fiction experience and I don’t know exactly what to expect in terms of response from my target audience, who are my self-published colleagues, but also anyone interested in this publishing format. It is difficult to make predictions, because there are not many products of this kind in the Italian market (not as many as those in the English-speaking market). Whether or not it is an isolated experience will depend on the results I have.
2) completing the writing, editing, and publishing “Nave stellare Aurora” on 30 November. This will be the most demanding project, since I have just passed the half of it (which consists of over 105 thousand words). I had speculated that a 160,000 word novel would come out, but I’m afraid it will be longer;
3) completing the translation of “Syndrome” into English, this time for real. The delay in this project necessarily moves forward my intention to start publishing the trilogy in English by the end of 2020, but only by a few months;
4) as always reading many beautiful books and above all continuing to ensure that a part of them allows me to improve my knowledge and skills related to my work.

For 2020 there are then some hopes.

I hope to repeat my autumn experience at the University of Insubria. I would also like to participate in other events that allow me to promote my books and there may already be possibilities in this regard.
I would also like to schedule the publication of the English edition of the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy. Linked to this is the idea of writing a short prequel in Italian, which should then be translated, to be used as a promotional tool in both markets. A ready-made outline and title already exists for this prequel: “Evidence”.

Finally, I want to take advantage of what remains of this eighth year of my self-publishing activity and the beginning of the ninth one, in which I will finally close the Aurora Saga, to decide which direction to take in relation to what will be my future projects, finding the right balance between the two genres in which I am writing, science fiction and thriller, to which non-fiction is now being added, and my desire to make more of my books available in English, in order to increase my earning potential.

Although there is so much more in my head, that’s all for now.
As always I take the opportunity of the arrival of a new year to express all my thanks to the people who support me, whether they are friends, family, collaborators or readers.
Many thanks to all of you.

And now it’s your turn to tell me about your resolutions for the next year.
Meanwhile I wish you a good end of 2019 and above all an even better 2020!

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