One of the exercises I address in my latest book for aspiring authors handles goals-setting. As time ticked on and people shared their opinions about my success or lack of success, I grew more aware of how important setting goals for myself was. They’re really your only true measure of success.
When you’re publishing a book, you’re also putting a little bit of yourself “out there”. That can be a scary prospect, especially when you have an active inner critic. People will come forward and tell you what they think you should do with your project. They’ll also be telling you why they think what you’re doing works or doesn’t. While their tips may be well-intentioned, much of it won’t resonate with the goals you set for yourself. Please try and remember that–so you don’t let your inner critic get fueled up for an “I told you so!”.
A person I’ve worked with once told me that the best way to share is to show. It might be helpful for me to tell you what my own goals were for self-publishing:
- GOAL ONE: To one day work for myself as an indie author and a freelancer. As some of you may know, I hold a full-time day job with a nearly three-hour daily commute. I also freelance in the evenings and over the weekends. You may already know that freelance work can be irregular with an irregular cash flow. Holding a steady full-time job for now is necessary for me — but it doesn’t mean I can’t write a book about what I know and share it with people (some of whom may even become prospective clients). This segues nicely into my next goal.
- GOAL TWO: To create a business card for myself. I have been in marketing communications for several years across a range of sectors and fields. I knew that developing a marketing strategy for my WIP (work in progress) would include a sequence of steps to point me in the direction of what my message and talking points would be, so I wouldn’t run out of ideas for my blog, Twitter account and building my indie author business!
- GOAL THREE: To be a published author. This sounds silly, I know, but it was important to me to officially have a book on the market, so I could check “get published” off my bucket list and put my inner critic to rest! “The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy” was low-hanging fruit for me in that I felt comfortable enough with its content to get it out the door. (I knew that drafting and editing my fiction would take more time, so I put that work on the back-burner.)
- GOAL FOUR: To share the knowledge. One of the biggest traps I see a lot of people fall into when it comes to marketing is biting off more tactics than they can realistically chew. New applications and social media make marketing look easy, but there’s planning and a lot of work involved.
A strategy is an overarching guideline to help you in your approach to meeting your goal. For instance, if you’re in New York and your goal is to get to Hollywood, your strategy is to travel west. Your strategy is not to hitchhike, take a train and a plane and a bus. Those are tactics. Your tactics may be to apply all four means of getting there, but it could just as easily be one. Your situation and circumstances usually define what works best for you.
Developing a marketing strategy can help people see the bigger picture and take a leaner, less “busy” approach to implementing a regular drumbeat of “noise” for one’s product.
So, it just so happened that I had a really good idea of what I wanted to convey in my book and I managed to produce it quickly enough to meet my other above goals.
- GOAL FIVE: To have a “practice run”. This relates loosely to “be a published author”. Because I had never actually published an ebook, I had no idea whether the timelines I was setting for myself were even realistic. I didn’t know how long it would take me to edit 60-plus pages of my own work, I didn’t even know how long it would take for someone else to do so. I also didn’t know a ton of things surrounding the beloved book-marketing behemoth, Amazon. (More on that in another blog post!)
- GOAL SIX: To build an author platform with other authors, creatives and readers. Community-building is important to me, because it bolsters my own creativity and helps me keep motivated in keeping my blog going, my novel alive, and also my non-fiction growing. I am in frequent dialogue with my audience via email — and, no, we don’t always chat about marketing.
Goals-setting helped me see the bigger picture
A couple people recently expressed to me their main fear about publishing their debut books: that people are going to criticize it, or them. Well, I’ll share with you a little anecdote.
A few weeks after I had published my own book, I received a long email from a reader who enjoyed my book but noted that it ranked dismally low in Amazon. The person then wondered how I expected to sell any books with such a low ranking. Good question! How, indeed?
I’m not going to lie and tell you I didn’t feel like a failure upon reading this person’s observations. But the marketing communications person in me did the one thing she knew best: I returned to my marketing strategy and looked over my goals. What I found amazed me!
Absolutely nowhere in my goals is “selling” books listed.
Selling books was an objective — or a measure — of a greater goal, but it was not why I set out to publish Write Your Marketing Strategy or even to write books. Ultimately, I set out to publish because I wanted to establish credibility for myself as an author and to support my plan to work for myself. Sure, selling books would be nice — but at $0.99 or $6.99 a book, I would still have to sell beaucoup books every month to pay the rent! (I think that’s pretty unrealistic (for me) with only one book/product in my sales portfolio!)
Setting the right goals helps put you in the right direction
To continue with my little anecdote… another couple weeks after the above-mentioned email, I received a completely unsolicited email from someone who was looking for someone who could conduct market research and then write a consumer report quickly and correctly!
She found me through social media. But thanks to my book, which she saw on my blog, I had practically scored the job before replying “Yes” to her email. Also, the earnings from that project represented way more than the revenue I would have projected for myself in the first year of sales.
Basically, the publication of that book is supporting my larger goal of building a writing business for myself.
How about you and your goals as a writer?
Why did you set out to write a book? What do your goals look like? Do your goals keep you motivated to keep writing?
Scroll down and let us know what your goals are/were for being a writer!