My 2020 Writing Goals

This is my fifth year of setting my goals in public. Which means it’s the five year anniversary of The Worried Writer podcast next month – meep!

I love setting goals and making plans, and sharing them with others is a great reminder that I’m not alone (as well as adding accountability!).

In case you’re interested, the previous posts are here: January 2016, January 2017, January 2018 and January 2019.

As in 2018, I swapped goals and progress with writer friends on a regular basis throughout 2019, and that was very helpful. I highly recommend finding an accountability partner or joining a writing accountability group on Facebook or similar.

I loved my Passion Planner last year but fell in love with this Paperblanks diary and, whoops, bought it… I may end up getting a Passion Planner in a month’s time, but I am going to use the new diary (in conjunction with my bullet journal/notebook) to start and see how I get on.

I also need to get used to using a more sharable system now that my husband has joined Siskin Press full-time (see below).

So, 2020…

WRITING

  • Write books 4 and 5 of the Crow Investigations series.
  • My next standalone book. I lost my way with this when the tone changed from fantastical to gothic, but I still love the idea and lots of what I’ve written, so I really want to finish it.
  • Finish my non-fiction ‘selling/marketing/branding’ book. I’ve finished the first draft, so this will be a rewriting/editing task.

 

PUBLISHING

My publishing goals next year have too main branches. One is to continue with releasing new books, and the other is to work on being a better publisher. This means spending time working on the business, not just in the day-to-day. To spend more time on launch strategies, marketing, and branding. To work on advertising and to work out how to scale up.

It also involves making the most of the intellectual property I already have, which will include making sure that my books are available in as many different formats as possible and that their availability in libraries and physical bookshops is better.

I am also going to be working with my agent to hopefully sell foreign rights for the Crow series. Audio rights have already been picked up by Quest in the UK (for the first three books), so I know that licensing subsidiary rights for an indie-published series is definitely possible. I’m not sure what that will involve, but I will keep you posted along the way.

So, here’s my goal list for the publishing section. It includes only the things I have direct control over, so not my hopes for my next standalone novel. I am hoping that my agent will like it, and that it will go on submission to publishers. While I love running Siskin Press and want to make smart business decisions, I’m also keen to remain hybrid as I think there are certain opportunities which traditional publishing offers and I’m not ready to put all my eggs in one basket. Plus, I don’t see it as an ‘either/or’ choice, but am just very grateful to have the opportunity to choose the best path for each book.

  • Non-fiction book in March
  • Crow book 4 in May
  • Crow book 5 in November
  • Omnibus edition of the first 3 Crow Books
  • Workbook and large print edition of SWSW
  • Print and large print version of The Secrets of Ghosts
  • Audio of TFC (rights have been licensed)
  • Audio of Crow 4 &5 either licensed or do myself

OPERATIONAL

Learning how to work with my husband on Siskin Press. Working out planning and information-sharing strategies.
We tried a shared whiteboard in the office, but we both kept forgetting to look at it! Next we’re going to experiment with project management software such as Asana. I think it will be easier to get into a rhythm now that he is full-time and not just working with me on a Monday.
I’m also keen to make sure that he gets tasks and projects that he enjoys and are challenging and interesting.

COMMUNITY

  • Continue WW podcast and patron-only audio extra monthly.
  • Attend SPF Live conference in March, the 20Books conference in Vegas in November, and other events to be confirmed.
  • Continue cafe writing sessions with author pals and do at least one writing retreat.

HEALTH & HAPPINESS

My walking improved this year (after grief wiped me out) but it’s still not back to my pre-grief levels I’m also aware that I need to work on getting a better balance of moving around (and taking time off!) to make sure I don’t burn out.

  • Build up walking so that I’m doing at least three miles every day.
  • Yoga/stretching every day (five minutes is fine, but the regularity and frequency is important, I think).
  • Time off and time out. Need to quantify this properly…
  • Artist dates. Yep, I failed on this (again!) but will add it to the list. I know the secret – to book them into the diary – so I should actually do that!

MEASURING SUCCESS

It’s really important to know what you consider success, otherwise you will always be chasing an elusive idea and never knowing when you have achieved it. It’s also really important to celebrate success along the way and to remember that, cliche though it might be, the journey is the important part, not the destination.

I’m awful at this and am trying to get better. Setting out clear definitions for success, helped, and recognising my tendency to move on immediately from any achievement or to consider it ‘not that good or important’ because I did it. By definition, if I managed it, it can’t be that great. I know. I have problems.

A case in point is the achievement of hiring my husband, Dave, from his job. It was the huge goal. The marker of ultimate success. It was the ‘why’ behind my biggest, most scary and exciting financial goals. And then I achieved it and, within minutes, I was moving onto the next goal. Or, more accurately, I was panicking about keeping things at this level and wondering what level I ought to aim for next.

I was chatting to a friend, and she asked what we were doing to celebrate and I said ‘um…’ She knows me well, so made me promise that we would go out for a meal or open a bottle of fizz, or something to mark the occasion. I’m happy to report that we did and it was lovely.

Something else I’ve done for next year is to set different levels of income goals. Obviously, Siskin Press is now the sole provider for our household income and, with that, comes fear. It also puts income in the ‘essential’ bracket rather than the ‘nice to have’.

I have set a minimum goal – which is what we need to live on. I have this as a yearly amount and have worked it out as a monthly figure, too, so that I can see if we are on track. Another great thing about being indie is seeing exactly what money is coming in in two months time, as Amazon sales figures are updated daily and they pay two months in arrears. There is also a great royalties estimator in the dashboard, so I can check to see the money that is due very quickly and easily. This means we will be able to see a financial problem coming, so we can take action to mitigate it.

Next, I’ve set an income goal. This is about double the minimum income goal, so is pretty ambitious and exciting. And then, because I’m incorrigible (and like to test myself and continually reach) I’ve set a third ‘stretch’ goal. This is a wildly exciting figure, but one I know is theoretically possible (there are certainly plenty of indie authors earning this amount).

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Money goals are something that motivate me. Not because I’m especially materialistic or because my lifestyle requires a high income (we live in a small house, run one very old car and have modest needs and tastes), but because money represents success to me, and because it means security and freedom. Those last two values are extremely important to me.

You may well have a different key motivator and I urge you to work out what that is, then to quantify it, and use it when setting your goals. Be honest with yourself and write down what you TRULY desire and the REAL reasons behind that desire. It honestly makes a big difference.

Another exercise which can be helpful is to think about the life you want and, again, not in terms of owing a particular item or having an external measure of success like ‘I want a film option for one of my books’ but in the sense of ‘what does my successful life look like day to day’. Really imagine it. Where do you live and what time do you get up and what do you spend your day doing and how does your week look and your year?

Do you travel lots or work in a co-working office space with other creative types or in an office in your garden or in bed? Do you spend your money very carefully and frugally so that you are always saving for the lean times and aren’t under much financial pressure to produce books or do you want a life with the thrill of essential deadlines and a production schedule of six books a year? None of the answers are wrong, but you must be honest with yourself about what sort of life and working life and business model you actually want.

Don’t push forward for the sake of it, I guess is what I’m saying, to myself as well as to you.

I would love to hear your goals for 2020. Feel free to share them in the comments below if you would like some encouragement and accountability.

I find it so encouraging to know that we’re all thinking about the same things and working on our writing and publishing goals. It is a niche industry and not something that most of our friends and family will have much experience of, and it can feel lonely or a bit surreal, so it’s really great to belong to a community like this.

Thank you and very best wishes for a wonderful 2020!

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