Eighteen years ago, when I was a newbie writer not even considering doing this as a career, I didn't bother with goals: short-term, long-term, or anything in between. I began The Lost Heir in 2002 as something fun to in college during summer and winter breaks. I'd work on it for a couple weeks, get bored, and not touch it for months or years at a time. My only "goal" was to have my mom read it when it was finished.
Fast forward 9 years, and the procrastinator that I am still didn't have it finished. My mom died in April, 2011, and I began writing seriously in November as a way to help cope with my mom's death. But again, my only "goal" was to finish it for her. I did, got it published through a small press in 2013, and then thought, "Now what?"
I had no idea about what being an author truly entailed, and I didn't realize how important creating goals and deadlines were, particularly for an Indie author. When The Lost Heir got picked up by a small press down in Texas, I thought they would handle all of the marketing. WRONG!
For all my friends starting out who might be considering publishing through a small or traditional press, they do very little to no marketing. I'm not saying this to scare you away from those routes, I'm making you aware so you can add marketing and promotion to your goals!
Which bring us back to the topic of this post. GOALS! It wasn't until about 2015/2016 that I began to realize the important of creating goals, not only for writing, but also for creating and promoting my author brand. I've come to realize that if I don't create goals, my procrastination kicks in, shit doesn't get done, and my readers get pissed, lose interest, and don't bother to pick up my next book when it's finally released into the wild.
I don't want the same thing to happen to you!
So, here are some types of goals to consider while planning and building your career as an author. They'll act as your writing guardian angel to keep you motivated and give you a sense of direction.
I consider long-term goals to be anything that will happen past the one-year mark: two, three, five years down the road. As we know, anything can happen in such long amounts of time, so goals set in this category can be tricky to adhere to, but it gives you a direction of where you're headed, which is never a bad thing.
So, what types of goals fit into this category?
Well, let's say you're planning on a three book series. You might plan to have all three books written after two years and published after five. Maybe you want to sell 2,000 books by the end of three years. Setting distant goals like this will help you set your shorter daily/monthly/yearly goals, and they'll also help you decide what types of marketing goals to set.
Monthly & Yearly Goals
So, we have our long-term goals. Now, we need to figure out what we need to have done each month and year. I consider release dates, dates for finishing various drafts, dates for finished formatting and covers, pre-order dates, marketing goals, etc., to be part of this category. These types of goals give you a more focused view and let you know what you need to concentrate on at any given time.
Let's say you set a pre-order date for the end of March. Once March rolls around, you should be focusing on the final formatting and cover, marketing, and uploading your book so it's ready for the pre-order date. You shouldn't be spending this time researching what the excrement of a gazelle looks like for a story you dreamt about the night before.
If one of your yearly goals is to be a guest on 10 podcasts, or to gain 200 newsletter subscribers, plan out how you're going to go about reaching those goals, and write down objectives for each month.
Short-Term & Daily Goals
I consider goals in this category to be weekly or less.
Things like daily word-counts, weekly chapter or scene goals, writing/scheduling blog posts, writing/sending newsletter, scheduling social media posts, etc., would all fit into this category. These, of course, will be your most focused tasks that will help you reach your monthly, yearly, and long-term goals.
One important thing to keep in mind with your short-term goals is that they will often change from week to week. Center these goals around what you need to accomplish in order to meet your other deadlines and goals. There might be a week where you need to focus on preparing for a series of podcasts or an upcoming blog tour, and you don't write at all. That's perfectly fine!
Remember that those other tasks are still helping you reach your goals, so don't feel guilty because you only wrote twelve words in your WIP one week. (Yeah, I've been there.)
The thing to remember about creating goals is that life happens. You aren't always going to reach them in the allotted time, and that's OK!
I can't reiterate this enough. Goals are important to have, but they don't always work out. I've had to push back a book's release by quite a while because my editor died and I had to find a new one. I'm considering having to push back Retribution's release because when I scheduled the date, my schedule at the ballet academy wasn't as intense, and I didn't think I'd have trouble finishing it in time.
So, things happen. Life gets in the way. Sometimes we need to alter our goals and deadlines, and that's totally fine. Be open with your followers and newsletter subscribers, change the date, and keep on reaching for your goals!
Do you create writing, publishing, and marketing goals? Do you find them helpful? How far out do your goals go? What do you find the most beneficial about your goals? Share in the comments below!