2017 was a year of change for me. I moved house, left my job and went self-employed the first time. I set up not one but two businesses (my freelance writing business and my author business) and got married. It was a year of immense highs but it also had its odd low points Life is a roller coaster after all!. Though I’m hoping that 2018 will be a more settled year.
A few weeks ago I reflected on my 2017 goals. At the beginning of the year, I had thought that I’d set my sights quite low and that I should easily exceed my goals. But that wasn’t the case. I did achieve my three big goals, but it was by no means easy, and there were several points during the year when I felt more than a little burnt out.
This past year has taught me some important lessons about myself. I know that I’m a committed, driven person. But I now realise that this isn’t always a good thing. That I need to give myself time off, and that when I do have time off, this supports and encourages my creativity to flourish. The best example of this was in July when, for our mini honeymoon, my husband and I took our campervan up to the north-west Highlands of Scotland. For a week we had no phone signal or Internet; it was an enforced digital detox. My mind, which had been so focused on lists and getting things done, let go of all this and new ideas began to emerge.
The other thing I’ve struggled with is comparisonitis. I try and tell myself that everyone’s journey is different. That, just because another author can survive on six hours sleep a night and write 10,000 words a day, doesn’t mean that I should expect myself to do the same. But it’s easier said than done, particularly when I always feel like I should be doing more. I’m really going to try and tackle this as I know how damaging it can be.
My motto for 2018 is “run your own race”. I may not be the quickest in this race, and there may be times when I stumble and fall by the wayside for a little while. But in the end, I know that I will, in my own way and with my own measure of success, finish the race.
So with that in mind, here are my goals for 2018. Based on my progress in 2017, they are stretching. But they give me something to work toward and I’m going to do my best not to beat myself up if I don’t achieve everything on my list!
Goal 1: Take Care of My Body and Mind
I suspect becoming a healthier writer tops the list of many author’s goals this year. Writing is rewarding in so many ways, but it’s not always good for your health!
I feel very lucky to be in a generally good state of health with no major issues, but there are some things I need to fix in 2017. To start with, spending less time in front of the computer and beating RSI. I love my work, I really do, but I need to be less addicted to it! I’ve also realised that exercising and spending time outside is essential for my mental and physical well being. I didn’t do enough of either last year.
I’ve got a few specific objectives to help me achieve this goal.
- In May, I’ll be joining a group of other authors, led by Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn) and taking on the Isle of Wight challenge. This is 104 km hike over two days. I’m a pretty active person and I love walking, but the thought of doing this kind of distance has my legs quaking already! I’m going to be raising money for MIND (a UK-based mental health charity) and if you’d like to support me in this challenge, you can sponsor me here.
- My husband and I are also planning to take a belated honeymoon this year. I’m not going to share our plans yet, as there’s a possibility it may not work out, but it involves a lot of hiking!
- To help fit some long walks into my already packed schedule, I am really going to try and master dictation on the move. I experimented with dictation at the end of 2017 and found it pretty tough and slow to get going, but being able to dictate my stories while walking would be a huge step forward for me (ha!) so I’m going to persevere.
- I’m also going to try and establish a regular yoga practice of at least 30 minutes, three times a week, to help stretch out my muscles and build core strength and stability. I’m going to use the fantastic Down Dog App to guide me in this.
Goal 2: Write More Stories
My writing goal for 2017 was to write and publish my first book and boy, was it hard! But as some wise person once said, nothing worth doing is easy (or something like that) and I really do feel like this is a life’s goal accomplished. The great feedback I’ve had on Expendables, Outsider and my other stories has been a real confidence boost and helped convince my inner critic that I can do this writing thing!
I love writing and I really want to get better at it. Which means studying other writers, reading craft books and writing more stories! Along with working on my writing craft, I also need to keep filling the creative ‘well’, so new ideas keep flowing. I have an ‘ideas box’ on OneNote and a paper journal which I use to capture ideas for the future.
My specific writing objectives for this year are:
- Write and publish Books 2 and 3 in The Wall Series. I’m aiming to publish Infiltrators (Book 2) at the beginning of April, and Liberators (Book 3) in September.
- Write a short story a month. This is to explore new ideas, practice different aspects of writing craft and have fun! I’ll publish each short story on my website for one week before taking it down. If you’d like to be notified when stories are available, sign up to my Readers’ Club.
- Collaborate with other authors. I’ve got short novellas in two anthologies coming out this month: Plain Jane (in Once Upon a Twist) and The Faerie Flag (in Breaking the Myth). I’d love to explore collaboration opportunities with other authors in the second half of the year.
- Start work on a new series. I’ve got a couple of thoughts around this, including expanding Plain Jane as the start of a new series. If you enjoyed reading it and want more, let me know!
- Continue to fill the creative ‘well’ by consuming quality content. This includes books, both in my genre and in other genres, and good films and TV programmes.
Goal 3: Build A Stronger Relationship With My Readers
In 2018, I’d love to help more readers find my books. I also want to develop a closer relationship with my existing readers. I love getting emails from my readers and want to deliver more of what they want, whether that’s books, giveaways or short stories!
In 2017 I did very little marketing, as I was more focused on producing a quality book. This is still my number one priority in 2018, but I also want to learn some new ways of getting my stories in front of more readers. More book sales also means that I can afford to write and publish books, so it’s a win-win situation!
What I’m planning to do to build a stronger relationship with readers:
- Survey my Readers’ Club to find out what people want from my newsletters and, if necessary, segment my list into different groups of readers.
- Continue to provide exclusive content to my Readers’ Club, along with information on promotions, giveaways and book recommendations.
- Learn how to use paid advertising effectively to reach more readers.
- Trial a fiction podcast for readers who enjoy listening to stories. I’d love to get Expendables made into an audiobook at some point, but that may not happen this year.
- Remain agile and able to adapt to changing best practice. Things are constantly shifting in the world of book marketing, and if I don’t want to be left behind.
That’s a summary of my 2018 goals for my author business! I will report back at the end of the year on how well I’ve done at achieving them.