It’s that time of year again when I wonder where the last twelve months has gone and start to think about my goals for the year ahead. And yes, I’m posting this a week or so into the New Year, but I did think about and write down these goals before January 1st. Promise.
If you want a reminder of my 2018 goals, you can read last year’s post. (Confession – I had to do this myself to remember what goals I’d set for myself in 2018, which probably shows just how effective I was at doing regular monthly reviews.) In December, I had a few weeks when I was feeling a bit down about how the year had gone and all the things I felt I hadn’t achieved, so I nearly skipped the “review and reflection” part of my goal setting process.
I’m really glad I didn’t.
I didn’t achieve all my goals for 2018, but to my surprise, I did get a lot more done than I thought. And although the months seem to have flashed by, the beginning of the year still feels like quite a long time ago, particularly when I remember all the long training walks I was doing in the rain and snow (needless to say, I don’t have another crazy exercise challenge lined up for this year!).
At the weekend, my husband and I took our road bikes out for a 20 km cycle around the Forest of Bowland (which, confusingly, is not a forest at all but an upland area in Lancashire). As I am a) very unfit at the moment, and b) have chicken legs, I was making tough work of the hills. At one point I stared down the road while trying to keep my legs moving in a circle in my granny gear and wondered just how I could be struggling so much on such a gentle incline. I was ready to give up there and then. After all, if I coudn’t keep going on something which was barely a degree or two off flat, what hope was there?
I finally made it up the hill, having stopped to rest a few times and got off my bike to walk. After a bite of Christmas cake, we turned around to begin the descent back down the same road we’d just come up. It was only then that I realised just how steep the road had been and how my perspective of the angle while going up it on the bike had been entirely wrong.
I feel that this is a good analogy from my experience of 2018. I probably put more hours into work in the past year than I ever have in my life before, and a lot of the time it felt like a long uphill slog. Sometimes I ground to a halt and other times it felt pointless for me to even try and continue. But continue I did, even if it felt like I was getting nowhere. But when I actually look back at what I achieved for my author business in 2018 compared to 2017, there is a massive difference. I may not have hit the income targets I wanted to or mastered the marketing tools which I plan to use to meet those income targets, but I’ve published books, short stories and anthologies, I’ve grown my readers list and got some cracking reviews, I’ve made some amazing new author friends who are incredibly dear to me, and I’ve learned a huge amount about indie publishing.
So my big lesson for 2018 is that the road is steep and the climb is tough, but with every turn of the pedals or step I take, I get a little bit closer to my goal. And if I can try and apply this attitude to the process of being an author, when I look back, I’ll have achieved a lot more than it felt like along the way.
1) Focus on Creating
I know I still have a huge amount to learn about marketing and I would love to make more money from my books to be able to fund production costs for future books, but realistically, I know that the best thing I can do at this stage my author career is to write more books!
I feel like I spent a lot of 2018 learning about different marketing approaches but not necessarily testing them in the most rigorous manner. In 2019, I want to focus on redressing the balance and spending the majority of my author time writing.
In 2018 I had short stories and novellas published in four anthologies. While I really enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other authors, this did take time away from my core series, particularly as my “short” stories weren’t particularly short! While I fully intend to continue writing short stories in 2019, I don’t want these to take time away from production of my full-length novels.
This year, I’m aiming to complete The Wall Series with Liberators, and publish the first two books in a new series. I’m still open to collaboration opportunities with other authors but as and when these come up, I’ll need to think seriously about I can fit them in and whether they’ll affect delivery of my core goals.
2) Become a Bestselling Author
If you follow me on any social media channel, you’ll be aware that I’m working with other authors to hit the USA Today bestseller list with Cursed Lands. This is a huge massive career goal for me and I’ll be putting in a LOT of work during the first half of the year to do everything I can to help us make the list.
You can help me make this dream come true for just $1 by buying Cursed Lands (and asking your mother, father, sister, brother, friend, delivery guy, local coffee shop owner, dog to buy it too… You get the picture!)
3) Be a Better Publisher and Business Owner
This one is really a slap on the wrist for me to make sure I do my admin! There’s a lot more that goes into publishing books than just writing them and while I’ve just about got my books ready to go for their release dates, there are lots of other little jobs that I need to keep on top of.
I want to get all my paperbacks uploaded to Ingram Spark, so there’re available to a wider range of distributors. I’ll also be exploring going wide with other retailers later in the year. I have a couple of novellas which are currently unpublished and I want to get at least one of these re-released this year. I also want to set aside admin time, do my monthly accounts so I don’t hate myself come tax return time, and plan holidays and timeout.
The last part of that is possibly the most important. I really struggled with burnout in 2018 and I know taking time away from writing and other work helps keep my creative spark alive. I just need to remind myself of that fact when I’m drowning under my to-do list!
4) Explore Different Marketing Opportunities
While a lot of my marketing time in the first part of the year will be spent on Cursed Lands promotion, I also want to trial different marketing options and figure out what works best for me. One thing I discovered in 2018 is that what works for one author doesn’t necessarily work for every author, so I need to go through the trial and error process myself. Hopefully this will put me in good stead to really focus on marketing in 2020 when I have more of a backlist.
5) Start Focusing on Audio
I would love to create audiobook versions of my books. The audiobook market is going through some interesting changes at the moment, so I’m not going to rush into anything as I want to take some time to figure out what the best long-term option is for me and my books. But ideally, I’d like to get at least one of my books produced in audio by the end of the year. I also want to start the podcast I had as a goal for 2018 and make more use of video.
6) Beat RSI
I’ve put this as a goal in itself as I’ve really struggled with RSI (repetitive strain injury) in 2018 and it’s made working and life pretty miserable at times. In 2019 I really want to make a focused effort to get this under control and ideally, get to the stage where it’s not an issue anymore. To do this, I’m going to be better at following my physio’s advice, start doing regular pilates or yoga and try and reduce my working hours in front of the computer.
Easier said than done, but if I don’t look after my body, I won’t be able to keep writing year after year which is what I want to be able to do!
7) Be More Positive!
I know that I can often be quite a negative person – I’m the “glass half empty” to my husband’s “glass half full”. Part of this is a defensive mechanism (if I think the worst, then whatever happens has got to be better, right?), but I know it’s better to be a positive person so I’m going to try really hard with this in 2019. I’ve created my vision board , got my positivity playlist running and have a positivity partner on board. How could I lose?!
And that’s it! If you’ve got goals for 2019, whether they relate to writing, reading or life, I’d love to hear them! Post them in the comments below and we can check back in a year and keep each other accountable.