QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Are Your Goals Up To Lately?

In my former life, I was a drug rep. Each December, the sales group for my territory would get together to figure out our business plans for the following year. Welcome to my start as a fiction writer. None of us liked writing these things. Fortunately, my teammates didn’t care what I wrote down. They just wanted to be out on territory. So, while they were out freezing their butts off (I live in Canada, in case you’re wondering), I created some impressive plans for the upcoming year. What can I say? I love creative writing.
Turns out I wasn’t the only budding fiction writer in the company. Eventually (like five years later), head office clued in that the business plans were boarding more on fantasy than reality. The result was a mid-year review to make sure we were following through with our goals.
As you may remember, the Querytracker.net blog had a post back in January on writing goals. The aim wasn’t to come up with resolutions that would be broken within a few weeks. It was a chance to figure out what you want to achieve this year in a realistic manner.
Well, it’s time to revisit them and see if you’re still on track, or see if things need to be tweaked. That’s right. Just because you said you were going to accomplish A, B, and C doesn’t mean you cannot change your goals to A, D, and E.
Say, for example, you wrote that you were going to query your novel, land an agent, and said agent would sell your book. Maybe you achieved your first two goals, but although your book came close to being sold, in the end you didn’t achieve the third goal (which is why it probably wasn’t the best goal to begin with). However, since there’s a lot of buzz about self-publishing lately, you’ve decided that it might be a viable option for you. Now you need to change your goals for the remainder of the year:
  1. Investigate the realities of self-publishing (especially for your given genre). Some genres (e.g. romance) are thriving in e-publishing; whereas, others are not doing so well in that format. E-published books are selling, but not to the same extent as in romance. This might affect your decision on self-publishing, or how you’re going to achieve it.
  2. Research the time, work, and expensive involved. Is it something that still interests you after you discover how difficult and time consuming it might be? Or does the idea of doing the work leave you feeling dizzy, in a positive way?
  3. Study all you can about marketing and social networking.
  4. Create a business plan. Sorry, no fiction writing here if you want your book to succeed. Trust me on this one. You only have yourself to impress.
As you can see, this is a very different set of goals from the original ones. For the next step, figure out a time frame in which you want to achieve each goal, and pick another date (maybe in three months) to make sure you’re still on track. Do you need to tweak them (because after doing #1, you’ve decided you don’t want to self-publish the book after all)? Or have you let your plans slide, and you are now behind schedule?
Remember, this was just an example. Maybe your plan is to work on a different project than what was laid out in your goals at the beginning of the year. Maybe you want to improve your craft so you are no longer receiving form rejections. Or maybe you’ve decided that you want to write short stories and novellas, and establish your name before returning to your original goal of writing a novel. The main thing is to change your goals to something that you can live with and is achievable. And do it now, rather than waiting until January 2012.
Any questions or suggestions?

Stina Lindenblatt writes romantic suspense and young adults novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and blogging addict, and can be found hanging out on her blog, Seeing Creative.  


Joseph Finley said...

I really liked this post. With Borders liquidating (it seems), I think it's probably going to be a lot harder to go the traditional publishing route for many new novelists like me. Makes me wonder whether all that work spent developing the "perfect" query is worth it. Maybe new goals are in order.

Christina Lee said...

Nice job on this post, Stina! And such a topic of discussion around the interwebz lately!