Top authors, entrepreneurs, and self publishing companies swear by the process of setting and working toward clearly-defined goals. You may think that things like visions and goals are only for the business world, but the most successful self-published authors today do treat their book publishing like a business. Indie authors are very busy, juggling lots of things, so without a clearly signposted path, it’s easy to get lost. Whatever stage you are at, goals will help you get more done and be more successful.
“This one step—choosing a goal and sticking to it—changes everything.”
- Scott Reed, author and philanthropist
Author Goals Work Because:
- The goal-setting process makes you think very carefully about precisely what you want to achieve, why you want it, and what you are prepared to sacrifice to get there.
- Goals keep you focussing your energy, time, and resources on the things that you really want (rather than getting distracted or spreading yourself too thinly – a genuine problem for authors today!)
- When you track your progress toward your goal, you will feel satisfied that you are making positive moves in the right direction.
- It makes the victory sweeter. You will feel really proud of yourself when the moment comes.
But you’ve got to do it right: a bad goal will end in failure and demotivation. I’ll quickly guide you through the process of setting author goals below.
1. Your Vision – Where Do You Want to Be?
This is the destination. Close your eyes and visualize yourself achieving this. You might see Amazon’s orange ‘bestseller’ banner next to your name, a certain amount of cash in the bank, or maybe even just great reviews. This is your top-level vision. Don't worry how far you are from it today; this is your destination, and every step you take needs to get you closer to it. Dare to dream – this is the fun bit. Now think about why this is so important to you. There will be ups and downs on the journey ahead, so it’s good to remind yourself why this matters.
2. Your Goals – What Steps Do You Need to Take to Get There?
So you now know where you want to get to, but where are you right now? Be honest about the scale of the journey ahead. Don’t be disheartened if it feels like a long way away; we’ll break it down into stages with focused goals. Maybe your vision is to be a bestselling fantasy author, but all you have right now is a few ideas sketched out on a notepad; if so, your first goal will be to finish your manuscript. Maybe you are already published and your goal is to sell more copies than last year. Think about an appropriate, realistic goal and then check if it’s going to be workable by using the SMART system.
Make Sure Your Goal Is Smart:
- Specific. Is your goal detailed? If it’s too vague, it will be hard to know when the goal has been achieved.
- Measurable. Will you be able to track your progress? Something like ‘do more on social media’ is impossible to measure but ‘get 50 extra followers a week’ is trackable.
- Attainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure – are your author goals doable with a bit of hard work and commitment?
- Relevant. Will your author goals get you closer to your vision? If not, you are taking a step in the wrong direction.
- Time-based. Authors have a love-hate relationship with deadlines, but committing to a date will help you keep on track. Break bigger periods into smaller ones and think about what you’ll do in 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, etc.
3. Your Action Plan – What Strategies and Changes Will Help You Get There?
You are now ready to formulate your action plan. This will involve looking at potential obstacles in your way and working out how you are going to get around them, as well as how to set yourself up for success (motivation, time management, and mindset). You will feel more in control, and your goal will seem more achievable when you have a proper plan in place.
Good luck. Whatever your goal may be, make it happen this year!