START HERE: How to Set Goals as an Author

Written by Mary Pero

positive black man listening to music with wireless earphones and taking notes in diary on street
This is Part 3 in a series called START HERE. It’s everything you need to get started writing your book. You can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

Most authors will never see success because they never defined what success is. Your goals as an author will be unique to what you hope to achieve with the publishing of your book. Setting author goals will help guide you toward your definition of success.

Let’s talk for a minute about goals. I want to write a book isn’t a goal, it’s a wish. Not only is it not specific or time bound, it doesn’t speak to the deeper reasons why you want to write this book and what you plan to do with it later. Michael Hyatt encourages us to set SMARTER goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Risky, Time Bound, Exciting, and Relevant. Using this framework, you’ll end up with a goal you can accomplish. More than that, you’ll have a large (and risky!) goal that can be broken down into smaller more manageable goals.

Let me give you an example:

I want to write a self-published book that empowers and equips single moms to find peace and rest in the midst of hectic, demanding schedules to be released by (date 15 months from now).

SMARTER GOALS

This goal is specific (self-published book that empowers and equips single moms), measurable (you’ve done it when you have a book in your hands and you hand it to a single mom), actionable (more on this in a minute), risky (this is a big goal!), time bound (15 months from now), exciting (if you love single moms, it is!), and relevant (this is something that fits with who you are, where you want to go, and what you want to do).

This goal is actionable, meaning you can break this goal up into smaller goals and action items:

  • Research how to self-publish, including vendors needed, cost, and delivery times by [date]
    • Action items for this goal might include:
    • Research: Google search how to self-publish. Allow 10+ hours of research/reading time by [date].
    • Vendors: Choose 3 – 4 vendors and call them. Ask about cost, lead time, etc. by [date].
    • Talk with a friend or colleague who has self-published. What did they wish they knew? Do they have referrals?
  • Develop your concept. Research the market for other books for single moms, talk to single moms about your ideas, etc. by [date]
  • Begin writing. Aim for 500-1000 words per writing time (do the math: how many days will you spend writing each day/week? If you write 500 words each session, how many sessions will it take to reach your word count goal? Based on the math, do you need to adjust your writing schedule or your publishing schedule?

Notice, each of these are really smaller goals that you can continue to break down into smaller action items.

AUTHOR GOALS

The example above will guide you toward your goal of a published book. But a published book isn’t all that you want. That’s why we need to be more specific about our author goals. What do you want to do with the book once it’s published? Close your eyes and imagine you are a published author. How does it feel? Pretty exciting, right? Keep your eyes closed and push your imagination a bit further. What are you doing with your book? If you’re not sure, read through the list below and see which one jumps out at you.

  • I love to meet my readers at book signings and events.
  • I enjoy the opportunities my book has given me to share my message at businesses, local libraries, and larger events.
  • My book has brought more leads for my business and has increased our annual revenue.
  • I’m delighted that my book has increased public awareness around this topic.
  • I have more and more opportunities as a public speaker because I am now considered the authority on my book’s topic.
  • I meet with my readers online and have formed a community to continue helping them.
  • I have used my book to launch a coaching/consulting business.
  • My book is the legacy I want my family to remember me by.
  • I love hearing how readers are responding to my message and want to provide them with further value/help.
  • I enjoy the extra income stream that comes in from book sales.

UNDERSTANDING OUR MOTIVES

Which one did you stood out to you? This is likely a good indication of how you define success as a published author. Now let’s dig a little deeper: Is your goal focused on book sales, engagement with your reader, or recognition of either yourself as an author or your topic? None of these are wrong, and frankly, to be a successful author, you will need to have a few goals in each of these categories. That said, the one that stands out to you signifies what is most important to you.

If your goal is focused on book sales, you will still need to engage your reader and increase public awareness around yourself and/or your book to drive sales. The same is true for goals focused on engagement and recognition. You’re going to need to consider all three. However, understanding your motives (or priorities) will direct you toward a publishing and marketing plan that fulfills you. If you love the idea of doing book signings in person, you’ll need to work on networking and developing relationships with book stores. If your goal is book sales, you may want to spend less focus on in person meetings and more time developing sales funnels and online connections to sell your book.

The question isn’t which one is better, the question is which one do you prefer? You’re the author, you get to create your definition of success.

SMARTER AUTHOR GOALS

Now that you know what you want to focus on, let’s create a few author goals that will help define success for you.

  • Focus on Sales: I want to write a self-published book that empowers and equips single moms to find peace and rest in the midst of hectic, demanding schedules to be released by (date 15 months from now). I want to sell 250 copies in the first month and 600 copies within the first three months. I will do this by [YOUR PLAN HERE: Remember, it needs to be relevant. Don’t plan to create sophisticated funnels if you’ve never done that before!]
    • Example of how: I will book XX speaking engagements to sell books in person, work with colleagues on an affiliate plan, advertise on social media, etc.
  • Focus on Engagement: I want to write a self-published book that empowers and equips single moms to find peace and rest in the midst of hectic, demanding schedules to be released by (date 15 months from now). I want to meet in-person with 500 single moms in the first XX months. I will do this by [YOUR PLAN HERE—how will you do it? ].

     

    • Example of how: I will reach out to XX bookstores in my area, speak at XX mom (MOPs) events, and reach out to local mom groups, etc.
  • Focus on Recognition: I want to write a self-published book that empowers and equips single moms to find peace and rest in the midst of hectic, demanding schedules to be released by (date 15 months from now). I want to increase my recognition as an expert on this topic. I will do this by [YOUR PLAN HERE—how will you do it?].
    • Example of how: I will reach out to mom blogs to guest post, speak at XX mom (MOPs) events, and reach out to mom podcasts, etc.

Now it’s your turn. What are your author goals?

Last Updated On May 12, 2022

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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