Hello, friends. It’s been a while since I’ve shared some publishing insight. I hope I can share more about my publishing experience to help you either revisit your current practices or prepare for your debut publication.
Mental health is very important to me, which is why I want to talk about setting goals that don’t put extra, unnecessary pressures to fulfill what someone else sees as important. By the time you finish, I hope you can see that it’s possible to set publishing goals that fit your life, your book, and your author dreams.
Do You Even Know What You Want?
Many of you remember that back in late April/early May, the bookish community celebrated the Shadow and Bone Netflix series. Right away, I realized that I was extremely envious after seeing a video of Leigh Bardugo meeting and hugging the cast in their costumes. Ugh, my heart ached. When will people care about my books? When will people cosplay Ilsi or Reshma?
Of course, the show was good. But it only got better once I realized that a) Leigh Bardugo has already written 16 books as I write this post. She’s been in the game much longer than I have. She’s traditionally published and has a team behind her. Of course, I’m seeing the tip of the iceberg of her career.
As we finished the series, I asked myself “Do I even want a Netflix series of Destiny Seeker?” I honestly don’t know. Obviously, that would be amazing but I’m not driven to go for that right now. I recognized that wishy-washy goals don’t mean anything if I’m not changing aspects of my author life to make them a reality.
Every author goal is a good goal. Here’s a list of author goals I brainstormed. I’m sure there’s more. Consider studying this list and then circle your top 3 goals. Which goals would make you feel like you’ve “arrived”? Which goals will you sacrifice time and energy to make a reality? Only you can answer these questions.
- Publish a book
- Be an Amazon bestseller
- Be a New York Times bestseller
- Get tons of book reviews (obviously good ones)
- Become a local, beloved author
- Travel and perform speaking gigs
- Travel and write wherever you want in the world
- Release a hardback version
- Release a box set
- Release an audiobook
- See cosplayers dress up as your character
- See fanart of your characters
- Sell book-related merch
- Host book signings
- Become a leader in the community
- Get a movie deal
- Get a Netflix deal
- Be on a convention panel
- Earn part-time money for your books
- Quit your job and solely make money as an author
- Start your own publishing company
- Find your books in local bookstores or libraries
- Become a literary agent
- Become a freelance editor
- Become an author coach
- Create a tight-knit author friendship group
- Reach a certain number of followers or subscribers
- Build an author community based on your values
- Inspire another person to become an author
- Publish a certain amount of books every year
Researching What Your Genre Recommends
If you’re serious about publishing multiple books, start researching your genre. How many books will you need to publish to earn public clout? How often should you publish? Which season is ideal for your book? Again, the answers will be clear once you’re very clear about your author goals.
When I research “how many fantasy books should I publish each year?” the results are intimidating. If you want to make a decent living, most resources suggested publishing around 1–3 books a year. I’m pretty sure the number is even larger for my romance author friends. In contrast, I’m planning on publishing one book every other year.
I’m checking my person and I can see that I haven’t exploded because I failed this goal, so I promise it’s okay if you don’t see this trend as a reality right now. But if you want to make regular money on your books in the future, it’s worth considering current trends and whether you can write and publish that much. It might not be in the cards for you now but maybe later.
I mainly want you to do some research because there’s a lot of advice from the peanut gallery. People love to tell me what they think I should do and they’ve never even typed out a book outline. I want you to be empowered with the knowledge of what it takes to reach your goals, and part of that involves understanding the “why” behind all your work. It’ll be easier to set up that email list or learn how to make a Reel if you know why these strategies are important.
Take Your Personality & Energy Into Account
It’s easy to be a lousy boss to ourselves. There’s always that voice in the back of our mind that tells us that we ought to push these books out quicker. I and my friends know what it’s like to push a book earlier than we should have. The pressure is real. I mean, I already feel behind knowing that I should’ve already published two books this calendar year. Remember how we’re literally still navigating through a pandemic?
Instead of worrying about what our readers may think or feel, let’s turn inward. If you look at the upcoming 12 months, be honest about the sort of things that are on your plate. Are you a student? Are you working full-time? Expecting a new baby? Enduring chronic pain? Facing a learning curve? I’ll be honest: there’s no real way to “do it all,” especially if you want to do a good job at your IRL stuff and your book goals. So give yourself a big ol’ break.
I would recommend plotting out your publishing goals while considering your mental health. You can click here for a blank version of what I use to keep track of my goals. You can create a copy and use it for yourself. I usually list out things I want to research or achieve on a monthly or quarterly basis. I then take into account which months are “lighter” than others rather than evenly spread all the steps. I’d encourage you to slow down or speed up depending on what you think will help you achieve your goals. You’re in charge.
Just know that your goals will change depending on your life and circumstances. That’s okay; it means you’re learning what works and what doesn’t.
Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Work
I mean, can you even peruse that author goal list without getting stars in your eyes? Once you commit to your top author goals and your plan, keep your eyes on your own paper. It’s easy to be envious of the Leigh Bardugos of the world. They went after their goals. Now it’s time for us to go after our goals.
Remember: we all get our turn in the spotlight. Celebrate your fellow authors when they publish. Your turn will come! I promise. I imagine that if you’re reading this post, you are already driven to make your dreams come true. It just takes time to create a book or platform that makes you proud.
I hope these tips help you whether you’re a novice or veteran in the publishing world. Remember to use my publishing path document if you need a visual to plot out your next book. I know Kristen Kieffer has some excellent resources if you want something more detailed. (Kristen’s my friend and I just wanted to spotlight her; this isn’t an ad.) If you have any questions about publishing and coming close to “doing it all,” let’s talk about it here or on social media. I’m here to support you!