I used to write month in review posts but it sort of fell by the wayside, and it’s something I enjoyed doing, so I’m bringing it back. Think of it like a catch up on all that I did in the previous month that was important or interesting.
January was quite a productive month, although it had its ups and downs. I managed to get the first draft of Unleash written, which I’m sure will please all the Snow fans out there, as it’s his book. It’s also the final book in the Vampire Erotic Theatre romance series, but I can’t bring myself to say goodbye to that place and those characters. I’ll be saying catch you later, and finding a way to continue to play in that world. The first draft of Unleash came in at almost 94000 words, which is a full length novel. Writing it was quite stressful but I got it done, and all the little bits and pieces I have my doubts about will get fixed up when I get around to editing it.
I also got all my figures completed for my sales in 2012, and I’ll be talking about that more in another post in February. I sold more books in 2012 than I had in 2011, so I think I did well. My aim for this year is to match my sales last year. I was quite fortunate with a chunk of those sales though, having used Amazon KDP Select at the right time in January 2012, back when downloads on free days counted well towards the book’s sales rank when the book came off free. Not the case anymore. I’m still confident I can match 2012′s sales figures this year, even with less releases.
Back to January this year… Once I was done with the first draft of Unleash, I got straight on with completing the world-building for a new series, Eternal Mates, and completing the outline for the first book. I managed to get it done in a few days, but it was hard work, and I started writing the first book on Friday. I’m now 18500 words into that first book. I’m guessing it’s going to be 90000 words, and it will probably take up most of my February writing time. The original plan was to just write the amount I had to write in order to put together a series proposal for my agent, and give her what she needed to approach NYC about the series. I can’t bring myself to do that though. I know it will add a few weeks on to the release date of Unleash, but I have to write this book all the way through. I think if I write just the first third of it, I’ll be setting myself up for a situation where I come back to write the rest and I’m no longer writing in the same style. It’s better to go with the flow. Plus, it’s better to give Unleash longer to rest before I edit it. I was only allowing a 2 week break, and personally, that probably isn’t enough for me to then edit the book with fresh eyes.
Away from writing now, and I was getting really frustrated trying to figure out where all my time went, and I felt I wasn’t being as productive as I could be, so I investigated time tracking applications. After looking around a few, I found a really good one called Toggl. I’ve had a few of you ask me about it and I can say that I’ve been using it for a week now and it’s really helping me see where my time goes, and it’s helping to keep me off the social networks when I should be working. I can use it via my browser, online and offline, and I can use it on my Android smartphone too, which is really useful. Again, online or offline. Once I go online, everything synchs up. It’s very cool.
I’ve split my time into several projects, and keep adding some as they come up. I can add tags to my items in my projects too, so I can track how much of what I’m doing. My hours for this week were all over the place. Normally I clock closer to 7-10 hours a day, but I had other stuff I had to do this week too. These hours don’t include things like breaks for coffee, etc. I tend to stop the timer then. Here’s a look at my weekly report, showing the hours I spent doing what:
As you can see, I spent around half my time writing, and spent a lot of time on my Book Tour for Bewitch and on Admin work. Admin work for me is dealing with emails, checking my sales stats, dealing with my finances, updating my schedule / planner, and dealing with pesky pirates.
Most of the screens in the browser version also show me a nifty pie chart version so I can see at a glance what I’ve spent most of my time doing:
I’ve hovered over writing to show that I’ve only spent a shockingly low 55% of my time writing. Considering I worked a 47 hour week (quite low for me because I was doing non-work stuff that week too) that’s a bit poor. I’d prefer that I spent closer to 75% of my time writing. A girl can dream, right?
One thing I have decided it’s really useful for is showing me where I spend time and how long things I normally do take. It’s a bit like seeing where I could possibly get someone to help me out, taking that task off my hands, and I can just get on with more writing. I’m sure I would hear no complaints if that happened!
If you’re looking for a time tracker to help you keep tabs on a project or your work life, then this one is pretty good. I’d definitely recommend it.
Of course, it can’t handle my multi-tasking awesomeness, so right now this blog post hasn’t been tracked, because I’m updating all my books at the Apple iBookstore at the same time, writing this while each individual book uploads.
ETA: I forgot to mention… I also challenged myself to stay off chocolate in any form in January (after a rather wicked holiday period) and I managed to do it… and celebrated in style on Saturday by making my famous refrigerator cake. Yes, just a few calories per slice, but it’s oh-so-yummy! If I was going to break my chocolate-free lifestyle, it was going to be with something worth breaking it for! My husband has been completely amused by this affair, and asked me on Friday whether I’d broken yet. I couldn’t honestly decide what I wanted. Nothing in the stores took my fancy. Then I decided to go artisan and special, and make something.