How to Set Author Goals

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Goals are the foundation of a solid book publishing plan. They provide a target at which to aim and the standard against which you can gauge your progress. Author goals divide your vision statement into manageable steps and provide a path to its realization. And written goals provide a means for looking back to see how far you've come.

Goal-setting is a tool and, like any other tool, it is useless if used incorrectly. Follow these tips to make sure your author goals are worthwhile.

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Make Your Goals Clear, Specific, Measurable, Time-Sensitive, and Written

This admonition is almost a cliché, but it bears repeating. Objectives must be clear so there is no misinterpreting their intent; specific so there is no doubt about whether you reached them or not; measurable in their objectivity, eliminating indeterminate goals such as "be the best in the business;" attainable in a limited period (which could be a month, a year, five years or more); written to make them indelible and not subject to later (mis)interpretation.

Make Your Goals Realistic

Set goals within the realm of what is possible for you to accomplish. This does not mean you shouldn’t stretch to meet a worthy objective, but only that your optimism should not exceed your ability to fulfill.

Arrange Your Goals Hierarchically

Arrange your goals from the most to the least important, from broad to specific targets so you do the most important tasks first and are able to maintain your focus.

Make Your Goals Part of a Plan

Planning is a verb, a series of sequential actions represented by the acronym PIEPlanning, Implementation, and Evaluation. Preparing objectives is the beginning of the planning process, the foundation upon which your implementation and evaluation occur.

Follow Up

Once your plan is complete, move to the second part of the PIE acronym and implement your plan, taking action to reach your objectives. As the saying goes, plan your work and work your plan.

Evaluate Your Progress and Make Necessary Corrections

Are your actions taking you closer to, or further from your author goals? How do you know? The evaluation portion of the PIE acronym tests your relative progress to make sure it is forward and goal directed. If it is not, make the corrections necessary to get you back on course.

Focus Goals on the Problem, Not the Solution

Murphy’s Law is alive and well in most parts of the book publishing process. But if you dwell on the things that go wrong, that is where your attention will be focused. Don’t fight problems, right problems. Set goals to reach profitability, not to avoid a loss.

Set Goals When You're in a Positive Frame of Mind

Negativity can overpower your thoughts when revenue and profits are down. That is not the time to be setting your author goals. Wait until you have regained control of your attitude and are ready to view challenges as opportunities versus impassable roadblocks.

Derive Goals from a Sense of Purpose

Purpose breeds passion, the unfailing belief in yourself and your ability to make your goals become reality. Your targets will rarely motivate you to sustained action if they are not set from an unfailing sense of destiny.

Use goal-setting as the tool it was meant to be, part of the process that transforms your vision statement into reality. Do this and your march to success will be as simple as PIE.


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Brian Jud

Brian Jud is the author of the book, How to Make Real Money Selling Books, the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales, and the administrator of Book Selling University. Contact Brian at or