What are your goals for 2018? Most authors have a vague picture in their minds of finishing some books and getting them published, but many don't have any concrete plans for how to accomplish these goals. The best way to reach a destination is by having a map to show your route. Pantsing may be the way some authors write their books, but it's a horrible way to try to run a book business. Follow these tips for creating a winning plan for the year and you'll be much more likely to reach or pass your goals by the end of December.
Start at the Ending
If you don't know where you want to go, how can you figure out how to get there? The first step in making an annual plan is to figure out your goals. Where do you want to be at this time next year? Your goal can be a number of books published, a number of words written, or even a number of newsletter or blog followers. In fact, it's best if you consider putting all of these and more in your goal list. Draw a word picture of exactly what you want to have accomplished at the end of the next 12 months.
Make these goals specific. "I want to write most days" isn't a good goal. "I'll produce 2,000 words a day" and "I'll write for 1 hour every day except Thursday and Sunday" are. Your goal has to be measurable. Otherwise, how will you know if you've reached it?
Figure Out How
You've got a list of goals. Now figure out the steps you need to take to reach them. If you want to write 5 books in the coming year, figure out how many words that includes, then break that number up into the number of days you plan to work. There's your daily word count. Do this with every goal on your list. Want to work an hour a day? What hour? Where? How about six ten-minute sprints? You should be able to logically follow each string of steps until they add up to your specific goals.
Schedule Your Calendar
Get a calendar or date book with large spaces and assign dates to every step in your plan. You'll end up with some days with more than one assignment and others with very few, but you can adjust this after the original plan is in place. By the end of the calendar year you should be able to look at any given day and figure out how much progress you've made toward your ultimate goals.
It may seem like overkill to fill out a year's worth of calendar dates, but it can be reassuring just knowing exactly what you're going to be doing each day. Instead of spending time worrying about book marketing plans and outlining your next series, you can confidently work on today's assignment, knowing the rest of it will happen when it needs to.
Use as much technology as you can to get the job done. Something as simple as Google Calendar can be a lifesaver. If you put each day's assignments into the calendar, you'll get notices each day to remind you what you need to do by the end of the day. Use whatever tech you're most comfortable with. Schedule text messages, emails, or even a nagging friend or spouse who'll call you each day to tell you what you need to do.
Do Quarterly Reviews
Do a quick review every three months to figure out how well you're doing. Have you fallen behind? If so, what can you do about it? Don't wait until the end of the year to try to fix the problem. Catching up after three months is hard enough; doing it at the end of the year means wasting time and effort you could use toward publishing more books.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!