Thinking about resolutions seems to be what all the cool kids do this time of year, and while I’ve never been one for resolutions, I’m big on goals, lists, and so forth. A lot of my goals this year are similar to those I had last year, sadly, but I’m going into 2018 with a bit more in my toolkit, so I’m feeling really optimistic.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I think knowing how little I accomplished this year. I know I did what I could. And I know that if I hadn’t been pregnant and had a new baby I could have completed more. I don’t regret having a baby, don’t get me wrong. That little angel brightens my everyday and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I just needed to come to terms with where I am now. And remember that I can’t do as much. So, without further ado here are my author goals.
Earlier this month I made a joke to Cameron about when we do these in vlog format how my goal recap will mostly consist of me staring down the camera with vacant eyes and saying “nothimg” when she asks what I accomplished that year. And as much as this made me giggle, it’s hard when it feels like the truth. So here’s a review of the goals I set for 2017. Stay tuned for what I have planned for 2018!
Alright! It’s that time again. I get to revisit my goals from last year and let you guys and to a large extent myself, know how I did. I’ll be adding next years goals in a future post.
This time of year our social media pages and author groups are abuzz with word counts for National Novel Writing Month—how many words we need today, how many until we win, or (if you’re like me) how many words you are behind. When we’re drafting our work it’s easy to just say “get the words down, worry about length later.” And that’s true to an extent. But what about when you’re revising? Planning your series? Developing your marketing strategy and brand? Manuscript length ties into four of the biggest things to consider when you’re a professional author: genre, target demographic, series or stand alone, and format. Here’s a handy list on manuscript lengths and what to call them (remember page-count is entirely dependent on formatting):
This post should probably go under publishing or marketing but since we always write about goals under writing here it sits.
So, what’s the difference between a strategy and a tactic? How do you come up with them? First, you need to know your longterm (over arching) goals. If you want to be a best selling author you’ll use a different strategy than if you want to make X amount of money per month. With that strategy there will be tactics. For example, If your main goal is to earn money now, you might price your book at $3.99 while if you want to build your email list and fan base, you might price it at .99 or free.(on Amazon, you have to sell about 8 books at .99 to equal the royalty from one sale of a $3.99 book) These prices are tactics to achieve a goal.
A tactic is one thing you do. Like making your first in series free, setting up a blog tour, or creating a Facebook event. These are pieces to the marketing puzzle but you need to make sure the ones you use fit together.
A strategy is the group of tactics you're using to reach your goal.
For example, with my new series, I want to bring in an extra $800 a month. In order to do this, I have a five book series (technically four books and a prequel) I will have the prequel novella priced at $2.99 and put it on sale .99 every 90 days or so for a certain period of time. I will also offer it for free when a reader signs up for my email list (List building tactic). I might offer it for free (audience building tactic) on retail sites but I'd rather not. A lot of people, myself included, download free books and never get around to reading them. This will not help my read through rates and so it won't help my goal. Charging .99-2.99 (tactic) will help ensure that people read the book (people are more likely to read what they pay for). And of those people, I will have a higher read through and there for more money. The next book (full-length) will be regularly priced at $3.99 or $4.99. Depending on how many early reviews I can get and how much interest there is in the series right away. Why $3.99? Because on Amazon, at $2.99 I'd have to sell 387 books a month to reach my $800 goal. At $3.99 I'd need to sell 286 books. That's 100 fewer books to make the same amount of money. You always make higher volumes at lower prices and putting your book on sale for $2.99 or .99 can help you if you need social proof like reviews or a ranking boost. Sales are just another tactic. Social proof (reviews and recommendations) are needed to sell more books. Using a sale to get that social proof, is a tactic.
It’s important not to get too focused on tactics. Keeping your eye on the prize, the goal, can be the difference between success and failure. Make sure you know what your long term goals are then test different tactics to reach those goals. What works for Suzy Author’s romance series might not work for your science fiction thriller but you can always learn from what others are doing.
What you need to do is figure out where you want to be in five and then in ten years. Do you want to have a certain number of books out? Making a specific amount in monthly income? Finish your series? Be a best selling author? Once you figure that out you can choose your strategy. To be a best selling author you’ll need to grow not only your own email list but also network with other authors in your genre. Networking is your strategy and a free book to grow your own list is a tactic. As you grow your list, you become a more attractive contact for other authors. Meaning, this tactic benefits your strategy.
There are a million tactics in this industry. You can use them all and get nowhere without a strategy and an end goal. Goals keep you focused, strategy keeps you organized, tactics get you where you want to go.
If you’re interested in tactics and strategies for goals like monthly income, becoming a best seller, or growing your email list, let me know. I’d be glad to share what I know and dig into how to achieve goals I haven’t thought about yet! Also, kind of feeling like I should write a post about pricing strategy... let me know if you'd find that helpful!
It’s that time of year again. The time when we start looking back over our goals and thinking about new ones. Last year, I made a few mistakes when setting my goals. Not the least of which was overestimating how much work I could get done with a new baby and failing to reevaluate my goals when we decided to homeschool our boys. And by we, I mean me. My husband helps more than I thought he would with school but 90% of it, is on me.
So, because of how I went about setting my goals last year, this year I’ve decided to get a little bit more technical. This post is going to be all about SMART goals and why making sure your goals fit into the SMART category is key to success. My next post is going to talk more about Strategy vs Tactics, you can look for it next week.
OK, what does SMART stand for?
Specific: Your goals need to be specific. Last year, all mine were very specific. I wanted to make X amount of money and I wanted to complete certain projects. They should also fit into your overall strategy and overarching business goals, more about this next week!
Measurable: Can you see the progress you’re making? Are you selling more books each month than the last? Writing more words? Make sure there is a way to tell if you’re making progress in your goals. If you can measure your progress or lack thereof you can make the necessary adjustments to be successful. And we all know success feels good and motivates us to do more.
Actionable: You need to be able to look at the data (sales numbers, word counts, etc.) and be able to do something to improve them or keep things moving forward. Make sure you always know exactly what steps you need to take on a day to day basis to accomplisher goals.
Relevant: Can you use the data to solve a problem that kept you from achieving past goals? Is this goal relevant to your career goals and strategy?
Time-related: Goals should always be time sensitive. As humans, we’re naturally born procrastinators. I’m pretty sure my mother is the only acceptation to this rule. So give yourself deadlines and make this happen! Personally, I like quarterly goals that help me achieve yearly goals. I did this for 2017 and while on the whole, I wasn't able to accomplish what I wanted to, I never felt overwhelmed or stressed because everything was broken down into manageable chunks.
Wondering why regular old goals aren’t good enough? Making SMART Goals is a smart business decision. They were literally designed to help you succeed. If you’re like me and about look at your 2017 goals and see all the things you didn’t accomplish, the question shouldn’t be "Why do I need SMART Goals?" It should be "Why the heck did it take you this long to share them with us?" (PS I just learned about them myself or I would have used them this year and been in a slightly better position moving into 2018)
What does 2018 look like for you and your career? V and I will go over last years goals and be posting the new ones for 2018 before new years. Did you accomplish your goals or did you pull a me and bite off more than you could chew? Let us know in the comments!
We already wrote one post on revision, but I feel like it's a topic that can be covered more than once. Last time we focused on the steps of revision, this time, I'll delve into why it's so important.
Why should you revise instead of slapping a cover on that puppy and hitting publish? Maybe you've already heard how people doing just that has flooded the market with crap and think, I know! I'll send it to an editor first! Well, that's a good thought. But it still falls short of the mark. Revision is something you need to do, possibly more than once.
Believe it or not, that piece you just spent months, maybe even years slaving over, isn't the best it can be. Not yet anyway. Writing is like anything else you do in your life, the more you do it the better you get. I cringe looking back at my first book. Not because it's bad, but because I can do so much better now. Also, because I learned about the importance of not just have a line editor, but that's a story for another time.
Depending on what works for you and what you're looking for in your story, you may rewrite it several times before feeling ready to show it to beta readers or editors. And that's okay. In today's publishing industry, quality is really important. Readers are sick of buying a book and finding forgotten subplots, character arcs that more like nice flat roads, and typos up the wazoo. Taking your time with revision, is the first step towards having a piece you can really be proud of.
So, when you finish that first draft, remember, it's just that, a draft. The first in many wonderful things to come. You might hate your book before you publish it. This is completely normal. After the hating it part, you will read it one last time before publishing (because typos) and you'll realize something. You'll realize how good your story is. How your writing actually captures the things you wanted it to and when you do finally publish it, you'll know you're putting something you can be proud of into the world.
I've heard of authors worrying about running out of ideas and aspiring writers worrying their ideas somehow aren't good enough. Ideas are everywhere in life. You just have to know where to look. Here are some tips I use to keep the ideas flowing. If you're not excited about a project don't force it. Try something new and either let the old idea fade or wait until it excites you again.
If you're writing your first novel, don’t worry too much about marketability at this point. If you're an experienced author you are already considering it, just don’t let that dissuade you from writing something you truly want to write. If you want to write it, someone wants to read it. I understand that this is a business and you need to think about your bottom line. That's why I'm fighting my way through the contemporary romance series I mentioned earlier. But I'm not going to let that stop me from writing the book I want to write and neither should you.
After reviewing my goals for 2016 and looking back on what worked and what didn’t I sat down to look at what I want to accomplish this year. For those of you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll know my more personal goals have taken a higher priority after the disaster that was 2016. These are my professional goals, broken into Writing, Publishing, and Marketing (which Cameron tells me I should maybe start doing more of, instead of hiding in a hole). Asterisks mark my stretch goals or an alternate project if I get totally stumped on another one.
How am I going to get these done (Other than plodding forever on with some alcohol and Cameron jabbing me with a cattle prod) I’ll set aside time each week, working around my day job schedule (and the drinking schedule that goes along with that). I’m going to make sure to strike a balance between revisions/editing and drafting, since they use very different parts of the creative brain. This year I’m making drafting a priority, rather than publishing. I’m looking forward to getting a backlog of material so I don’t have to take too much time between publishing the final books in my series. I’m also focusing on working on what I’m inspired to do, rather than what I have to do, deadline wise. That way I feel better and more interested in what I’m doing (therefore it’s more likely to get done).
As far as marking goes, I’ll be able to automate a lot of my promotions and posts, so once it’s set, I can focus on other things.
To help keep me accountable I plan to check in with Cameron and my network of other authors regularly. This will help motivate and inspire me. I’m also going to be open about my goals and my struggles to reach them, so I’ll have more pressure to succeed and more support when I don’t.
The writing Process
We love it, we hate it! Here are some tips to help you get through the ups and downs and stay on track!
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