New year, new resolutions: 2021

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Of course 2020 was a year out of the ordinary, huh? I imagine that many of you have seen your resolutions become rubble and I must say that it has affected me in part too. I had, in fact, decided to dedicate the year that is ending to promote my books more in events outside the Internet and, instead, every slightest prospect I had has, alas, badly fallen through.
In reality, I have been so busy writing and publishing two books, that perhaps I couldn’t have devoted too much time to live events such as presentations and book fairs, but I certainly would have preferred to have made this choice by myself and not be forced by a global event.

Oh well, all in all, at least from a publishing point of view, my year wasn’t too bad. What really took its toll on me, on a personal and in some cases also professional level, is not having been able to leave Sardinia (it hadn’t happened for at least 20 years), not having attended a concert, having gone to the cinema just five times (undoubtedly another absolute negative record), not having set foot in a theatre, not having been able to cheer my football team at the stadium for so many months (and who knows for how long) and in general having had to do without those experiences of interaction and collective sharing that for a person like me, who normally works at home and usually spends several days in a row without seeing or speaking in person to anyone (even without a lockdown), they are essential for me to feel part of the rest of humanity. Which is no small feat, if you consider that often, for an author, such interactions are the fuel of fantasy. And they are even more so for those like me who love writing about the future with an optimistic look. It was hard not to be influenced by all this matter-of-factly negativity and above all by the sensationalist way in which it was and still is continuously presented to us.
Fortunately, we still have the freedom to turn off the TV and control within the Internet how information reaches us, and above all not to let the information, true or false, control us.

Anyway, in one way or another, this year is now over and I’ve come out with a respectable outcome. In fact, I achieved three of the four objectives I set to myself a year ago. And, in all honesty, I don’t think I could have done better anyway.

Here’s what they are:

- I finished revising and published my first non-fiction book: “Self-publishing lab. Il mestiere dell’autoeditore”. Halfway between an essay and a manual, with its more than 139 thousand words, this book published on 30 May is based on the self-publishing laboratory that I teach at the University of Insubria, but compared to this it is definitely expanded and a way to illustrate self-publishing in Italy and how to become a self-publisher or improve your existing publishing business. Together with this book I inaugurated a blog of the same name on Medium (in Italian), where I address further topics concerning the three phases of a self-publisher: writing, publishing and promotion. Or, better, the three roles: author, publisher and entrepreneur;

- I have finished writing, revised and published the last book in the Aurora Saga: “Nave stellare Aurora” (Starship Aurora). And this is the thing that makes me happiest, since it represents the end of a story that began almost nine years ago, when I tried my hand at the first draft of the first book of “Red Desert”. This novel with its 190,000 words is the longest I have ever written and in fact I have worked on it for almost two years (not counting its plotting while writing the previous ones). I am very satisfied with both the story and the way I narrated it, even though the creation process was very tiring. Indeed, the main reason for my satisfaction is precisely the fact that it’s finally over (the story, but also the series) and I was able to give it to my (Italian) readers. The book came out on 30 November and I’m just now getting the first sensations from those who have read it (eh, yes, it takes a while to read it!);

- I have read a lot of books again this year, most of which are quite long, just the way I like them. Instead, I was quite lacking in terms of reviews, but unfortunately I could not keep up with it, not so much for the number of books read (which I neither know or care about), but precisely because, having published, and in part written, two very long books and tried to carry on a new blog, I have little time left and desire to write more, and above all the concentration necessary to do so, given the particular situation we are experiencing.

And the resolution that I was unable to meet?
Well, the same as last year! I have not finished translating “Sindrome” in English (Syndrome). I barely had time to review the already translated part and do three short translation sessions. And well, it just wasn’t possible. So be it.


What else have I done this year?
Despite the impossibility of travelling outside my homeland (Sardinia), I still taught for the fourth time the “Self-publishing laboratory in multimedia systems” for students of Communication Sciences and Communication Sciences and Techniques of the University of Insubria. In fact, I didn’t go to Varese, but I still taught the laboratory remotely and with the same method I was able to participate as a speaker at a conference on viruses between science and science fiction. I will talk to you about this in an article very soon. If you read Italian, take a look here.

I also followed 7 MOOCs. The most interesting were the space ones: “Space Mission Design and Operations” from EPFL, available on edX, and “Atmospheric Chemistry: Planets and Life Beyond Earth” from the University of Leeds, available on FutureLearn. The first focuses mostly on the physics of space flight and then gives a nice roundup of past and present missions. The second, on the other hand, deals with the relationship between the chemistry of the atmosphere and the possibility of life even beyond Earth; therefore it ranges in the field of astrobiology. 

Then I still tried to make a little holiday, even if I didn’t go too far from home. I spent it on the beautiful Oristano coast, which I took the opportunity to get to know a little better.

I participated in an episode of FantascientifiCast in which Omar Serafini and I had the pleasure of interviewing Giorgia Sinicorni, the Italian actress of the French science fiction TV series “Missions”. I also recorded a second episode of the podcast, dedicated to Wells’s “The War of the Worlds” in its various incarnations, which has yet to be published (Omar?).

Finally, I continued to experiment with Facebook ads to promote my books, encouraged by the results. I have also extended them to my non-fiction book and am starting to take some timid steps to advertise my books in English (the Red Desert series). I intend to continue using them in an economically sustainable way, investing only a percentage portion of what I collect as royalties. This way, if I still have good results, I will be able to increase the advertising effort to bring it also to the books (or retailers) that are currently excluded, while keeping it constant for the books already advertised (or the retailers towards which I already point the ads).

In general, I am very happy with how my books went this year, for which I saw a clear growth compared to 2019 (thanks to the two publications), which was in turn better than 2018. I am particularly pleased that this growth is gradual and largely linked to my actions. This means that I am managing to create a cause and effect relationship between my promotional efforts and the possibility of reaching new readers and it bodes well for me to continue along this path.

And now it’s time for my resolutions for 2021:

1) don’t let my work schedule cause me stress. This is undoubtedly the most important. I believe that it makes no sense to persist in this publishing business, if I do not get both an economic and personal well-being return. For this reason, from now on, and until further notice, deadlines are banned. I will work in advance and will resume setting dates when I have at least one more project ready than the one related to the deadline;

2) continue to carry on the blog on self-publishing on Medium, which, with the current publication rate, consists of writing no more than 26 articles for the whole year (even less, if I consider the holiday periods). At the same time, I want to increase my preparation on the aspects of publishing marketing and those relating to publication and promotion on the English-speaking market (and here there’s a link to the next points);

3) complete the translation of “Syndrome” and make sure that it is properly edited, in order to make this book ready for publication too;

4) begin and possibly also finish the translation of “Oltre il limite” (Beyond the Limit). From here you can understand that my next publishing goal (strictly without deadlines) is to publish the entire Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy in English (for “The Mentor” it will be the publication of a new translation) and to promote it properly on the English-speaking global market;

5) explore new possibilities to exploit the rights of my books. I believe that, with 15 books already published, the time has come to enhance them and focus on getting their stories to a greater number of people;

6) improve my image on the web with a careful use of the new opportunities provided by social networks and bring my communication channels (website, blog, social networks, newsletters, Telegram) back to the centre of my promotional activity, to assist ad efforts.

That’s about it. Although, in reality, it can encompass so many different things and how I will deal with it is still to be seen. I need to take stock of all the knowledge I have on this field, of what I can improve and of what I can acquire. So the next step will be to develop more strategies and try to pursue them, in the hope that this will lead to results, even if these will be completely different from the initial intentions. As already expressed in “Nave stellare Aurora”, what counts is the journey and sometimes this is able to surprise you far beyond your imagination. And never like now, after a year like 2020, do I realize how true this is.

I have not put the writing on the list, if you don’t consider that of the blog articles. I have no plans to write any new books in 2021. This does not exclude that I then decide to write something, but at the moment I have no projects. The fact that I have completed all the projects I had in progress makes me feel satisfied. Now I need to refill my creative well. I will resume writing when I have something new to say.

But is very likely I’ll translate (in Italian).
In fact, I recently got in touch with Richard J. Galloway for the Italian translation of his fourth book, so it means that it will also be published in English and you may soon know what happened to Amantarra and her friends who ended up on a distant planet.

I didn’t even put reading books on the list, because I read those anyway! Putting them as a proposition is a bit like making a promise to brush my teeth or watch movies and TV series. Too easy. Obviously I will read and I intend to read some good books, possibly long ones. And, since I don’t have to write, the fiction books I will read will be chosen solely on the basis of the inspiration of the moment and will be in the language that just happens (among those I speak, of course), without fear of unwanted influences on my writing.

 

Well, I’d say that’s all for this year-end post of mine too.
As usual, I want to thank you for following me up here. In 2021 (in June) I’m starting my 10th year as a self-publisher and I believe this is the best time to make some important changes to add to the substantial steps I have managed to take during this otherwise worth forgetting 2020.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you, relatives, friends, collaborators, colleagues and readers, who have supported me (and someone also endured me) in 2020!

Now it’s your turn to tell me (here or elsewhere) what your resolutions are for next year.
I wish you a good ending and a fantastic new start!

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