Writing, Book Promotion, and More: A 2019 Year-end Review

In the past few weeks, I’ve viewed a plethora of 2019 year-in-review and/or hit-the-ground-running newsletters/blog posts for 2020. To be honest, while I champion the work of fellow writers and appreciate all the positive messages, I skimmed over many of them.


December had me feeling a bit tired and unfocused. Truly, I didn’t feel like I accomplished much in 2019. And that made me feel BAD!2020 - Goal Setting for a writer and book publicity professional

Typically, I am a positive person, but I realize I am a bit hard on myself when it comes to my to-do list and what I THINK I should have accomplished this past year. In an effort to buoy my spirits and prove to myself that I actually DID STUFF in 2019. I started going through my calendar. I highly recommend this to everyone. Not only will you see that you accomplished more than you are probably remembering—but you also might find some things you can jettison for a more productive (peaceful? enjoyable?) 2020. In the world of grand expectations and unrelenting self-criticism, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Everyone's situation is different. Many writers have day jobs, children (with a bazillion activities), elderly parents, and a whole host of other responsibilities. Celebrate all of those accomplishments, too! 

A review of 2019 - the writing and book promotion projects I accomplished.So for the therapeutic value of list making, here’s my 2019:

  • 38 blog posts written, including 12 Writers’ Forums, 7 author interviews/launch celebrations, and 58 book reviews.
  • 80+ books read, both published and in manuscript form as a beta reader. (Such good books this year!!)
  • 6 books edited/critiqued for critique partners and clients.
  • 12 Columbus Books & Beer book club events coordinated and moderated. (Yes, books+beer+visiting authors=great fun!)
  • 7 writing conferences/retreats/residencies for a total of 25 days away from home.
  • 9 writing or writing-related presentations or panel discussions at conferences/libraries etc…
  • 1 emcee gig for a charitable event. (In a barn-no less!)
  • 1 Art & Author Fair publicity role in coordination with a team of other authors/artists.
  • Countless BookBub and Facebook ads run to promo my YA fantasy series. (Some were successful and some were complete duds.)
  • Unknown: Number of podcasts, webinars, newsletters, and articles consumed on writing and book promotion. Many of these were shared in the Writers’ Forum posts!
  • Also Unknown: Number of social media posts read and random videos watched when I should have been writing. 

I am most proud of my efforts to diversify my writerly and author coach projects. Thanks to an excellent webinar from Jane Friedman, I managed to . . . 

*Put my first book into audio production. (The audiobook will be released this month!)

*Expand my author services and work with 13 fabulously talented clients on everything from website design to book marketing and developmental editing and more!

*Create my online Author Pro courses and launch the first full-length course: Building Your Online Author Image. This was a painful process involving almost a four-week battle with the video/audio production learning curve! (Glad I know what I'm doing now!)

Make time for some fun! 2019 a year in review.

And for fun (LOL)

  • 7 concerts (Paul McCartney, Death Cab for Cutie, Killers/Death Cab for Cutie, Bishop Briggs/Imagine Dragons, Blink 182, Black Keys/Modest Mouse, Bishop Briggs).
  • 2 Broadway musicals (Book of Mormon and Hamilton at the Overture Center).
  • 1 Peninsula Players production (George Washington’s Teeth). (I laughed so ridiculously hard at some of the lines. . . just ask Angie Stanton.)
  • 25 vacation days away from home.
  • Undisclosed: Netflix & HGTV binging (I might disclose this in another blog post. I do like my TV shows.)

So I did DO STUFF! I think at this point I need to forgive myself for feeling tired and unfocused in December. (This is also a reminder that time off is important, too!)

But did anyone notice what was missing here in 2019?

For the first time in many years, I didn’t finish writing the draft of a book.

I wrote! Don’t get me wrong. In fact, if you were following my blog (Reflections on a Writing Residency and Retreat), you saw that I made huge dent in the anticipated word count for my work in progress at the Write On Door County residency. But that momentum slowed in November as I digested the wonderfully helpful advice I received at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators retreat and made adjustments to the first 1/3 of the novel.

In large part, I define myself as a writer—as an author—but in 2019 I didn’t arrange my schedule in a way that allowed me to write consistently. I am fixing that in 2020!

That doesn’t mean I’m kicking projects off of my list! I loved doing all the things I’ve listed above! There’s a fun creative energy that occurs when I have the chance to collaborate with other authors on their writing adventures. I would miss that and I believe my creativity would suffer!

So as we get further into January, I’m shrugging off my December malaise and finally looking forward to 2020 and what it might bring for all of us who live in the crazy unpredictable publishing world!

Cheers, Valerie


Valerie, I first met you when I volunteered for an SCBWI Wisconsin event several years ago and yes, you struck me as a very positive person. You give so much to the writing community via your blog, your volunteer times, and book reviews. And those Books and Beer meetups (which I find so intriguing and hope to attend someday!) Glad to read your recap of the past year left you looking forward to 2020! Happy New Decade!

Thanks, Brenda! I hope you can make it to a Books & Beer gathering this year! I have your books on my reading list for 2020.
Y'know, it's funny how we can do a lot and wonder why we didn't do MORE! LOL - Valerie

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