“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
Most writers (myself included) find it difficult to stick to any kind of a writing plan, especially as the year goes by. Well, let’s make a plan right now, before the year starts. No need to wait until January with all that resolution crap. Let’s start right now, in December. If you did the #NaNoWriMo thing, then you’re done starting December 1 and you can breathe a sigh of relief — you can go back to writing All The Things. If you didn’t do NaNo and don’t even know what it is, cool: this post will focus on helping you meet all kinds of different writing goals (books, articles, blog posts, and social media).
Speaking of goals: let’s make them and meet them. Multiple studies have shown that if you make goals, you complete them. In fact, “over 100 separate studies in a wide range of experimental situations have come to the same conclusion: people who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals.” (Source: James Clear)
You don’t have to share your goals with anyone (some say you’re less likely to succeed if you do). This is purely to get you going NOW.
This exercise is for you (and hey, for me, too — I’m putting my goals in writing right here and now so thank you). Let’s deconstruct.
Book Marketing Plan
Before we get started on the writing part of all this, let’s discuss marketing, because you don’t have a writing career if you don’t market your work, regardless of how you are published (even if your book isn’t even out yet); you can still be networking (ugh, i hate that word — let’s go more with building relationships), and building your author platform.
Your book marketing plan doesn’t have to be miles long and fancy — in fact, take a page of your planner or in Word, and write out how you plan to get the word out about your book: social media, blog posts, guest blog posts, promotions, giveaways, what have you.
For specifics about what to include if your marketing plan, if you do want to get really detailed, take a look at Joanna Penn’s award-winning, free sample marketing plan. The idea here is to know exactly how you are going to spend your marketing time and budget.
My Book Marketing Goals:
- I’m marketing both my Broken books: Broken Pieces and Broken Places,
- Pre-pre-marketing Broken People (as I am writing it — more on that below under ‘Writing Goals’), and
- Creating pre-marketing opportunities right now for The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge (turned in the final MS with all the betareader commentary to my publisher last week — woo-hoo!).
So, what does this entail?
- Facebook Ads: Pieces/Places: Spending limited budget — $5/day (I’ve hired expert Alexa Bigwarfe because I’ve wasted enough money figuring this out myself with dismal results). I’ve also spent money on Google AdWords that haven’t resulted in sales, so I’ve re-allocated my limited ad budget to FB ads for now. We’ll see how it goes.
- Features: Spending $25/month on a BargainBooksy.com feature. Mixed results so far, but they have a large newsletter share of voice that I can’t achieve on my own.
- Giveaways: Amazon eBook giveaway of Pieces. Cost: only the cost of the eBook itself (which is $2.99) to however many winner there ends up being. Typically, the cost is about $25-$40, unless you choose the print option because you need to cough up the shipping costs.
- Instafreebie: Cost is $20/month for the service plan I chose. Readers sign up for my newsletter and in return, receive a copy of an expanded excerpt of Broken Places (more than they’d receive from the free Amazon “Look Inside” feature; I’m not part of the KDPSelect program, so this isn’t an issue). The goal here isn’t necessarily increased sales, but increased email subscribers, and I’ve received 80 new subscribers in less than one month. In comparison, without using InstaFreebie, I would get maybe 10, so to me, it’s worth it for now.
- Street Team: I adore my awesome street team, over 100+ (if you want to join, click here). I love creating special giveaways just for them. Monthly seemed too often, so I’m going to create amazing quarterly cool thingies for them.
- Free: sharing quotes and visuals on social media, occasional blog posts, articles on various sites, etc., that contributes to my share of voice and visibility (all good for SEO). I’m also participating in several free holiday blog hops, also free (some required a book donation).
- Site Updates: An ongoing process, of course. You may have noticed this site looks totally different — major upgrade. Still working on the little things, and new downloads and courses are coming. This all ties into the 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge book marketing. Stay tuned.
- Awards: I’m up for a few awards for Broken Places, but only because I entered. Some have a fee, some don’t. Be choosy: don’t enter Joe-Bob’s Best Darn Book Awards, even if Joe-Bob is your cousin Edna’s dog trainer’s best friend’s cousin. It won’t help your book.
I do a lot more little things as they come up. Keep your eye out for good opportunities.
Quarterly Writing Goals
Do you ever watch Jenna Morcei’s awesome YouTube channel? She’s great. Funny, talented, and her videos are chock-full of terrific information. I’m especially impressed with her quarterly goals videos. She makes these goals every quarter, and keeps most of them. Those she doesn’t, she carries over to the next quarter. Take a look now.
What I love about Moreci is that she makes it easy: throw these goals into your smartphone and off you go. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process where you spend days or weeks agonizing over what your goals should be. Just get them down.
Now remember, these are quarterly goals, so you’re not looking at something like “write 200 words daily” or “write a blog post weekly” (more on that below). These are three-month goals.
My Quarterly Goals:
- Finish up Broken People and turn in MS to publisher
- Have the first draft of the next 30-Day Marketing Challenge to my editor (this one is a Twitter challenge)
- Have initial outline completed for next book series (top secret)
- Write 1 Feminine Collective poem or article monthly
- Have 4 Huffington Post articles published
- Have 4 IndieReader articles published
- Have 3 Good Men Project articles published
- Pitch to Elephant Journal and Psychology Today
- Continue with weekly blog as always on both RachelintheOC.com and here
With this set of goals, I recommend choosing one or the other, or you may tend to get bogged down in all the numbers and most importantly, lose focus. The K.I.S.S. technique works best here (Keep Is Simple Stupid). Write one blog post per week. Write a new chapter daily. Write 2,000 words every day (that’s a daily goal of one of my mentors, Lori Culwell. She says it doesn’t matter what it is that she writes — a letter, blog post, article, chapter, the same word over and over again — as long as it’s 2,000 words.)
Whatever works best for you — the point here is make it easy and stick to it, so that you can achieve your quarterly goal.
Why do I say to keep it easy? I’ve worked with so many authors who will try to segment their day into hourly chunks:
- Write for two hours on book.
- Write for two hours on Huffington Post blog post.
- Write for tweets for one hour and schedule.
Don’t do that. What happens is that choppy schedule tends to disrupt our creativity, our flow. My suggestion is to allow yourself to focus on whatever your task is for that day and let it flow through you — give yourself in to the subject, immerse yourself inside the warmth of the words, and go there. Don’t focus on the clock that says “Your two-hour block is done. Now put down that pen and refocus on something else, pal.” If ideas crop up for a different project while you’re working on the main project, keep a notebook handy, but stay focused.
Unless, hey — if that works for you. Some authors are able to switch it off and on, get bored easily, and enjoy working on multiple projects at once. I’ll be honest: we often say YES to multiple projects (*raises hand*) and find it difficult to tell people NO when we really should (our time is just as valuable), but ask yourself this question: is what I’m doing going to help me achieve my quarterly goal? My weekly or daily goal?
If not, don’t do it. You have to be that brutal with yourself and your time if you want to achieve your writing goals.
My Weekly Writing Goals:
- Blog Posts: Write one Rachel post and one BadRedhead Media post by Wednesday of each week (or receive from staff writer, post and optimize)
- Articles: Work on either Huffington or IndieReader Post by Friday of each week for monthly deadline
- Broken People: write two poems and one essay weekly
- Feminine Collective: work on Feminine Collective post for monthly deadline
- 30-Day: Write 5 days of challenge each week.
If you’re not blogging, you might think you can skip over this section, but you need this more than ever. Three reasons:
- Blogging is the one thing you can start right now with very little investment (beyond time and a bit of knowledge of the Internet) which can pay off big time in visibility and building relationships.
- Blogging is also a wonderful way to stretch your writing muscles.
- Finally, blogging can help you connect with not only your readers but also influencers (ask them to guest blog) which can pay off when you launch your book (they can feature you, write you a blurb, review your book).
My blogging goals are simple, but take commitment: blog once weekly. That’s enough for the Google bots to find your fresh content. If you participate in #MondayBlogs, you’ll see a nice jump in traffic via Twitter, gain additional followers, and again, build relationships.
My Blogging Schedule:
As I’ve become much busier this year with my business and as well as personal commitments, I haven’t been able to post new blog posts as consistently on both sites as I have in past years. To combat this, and still post fresh weekly content, I’ve brought on staff writers. These are wonderful writers I’ve personally vetted who have similar visions, are happy to gain the exposure I can give them, and are willing to commit to writing one blog post every one to two months.
The schedule is easy: post a new blog by Saturday each week. I then schedule in #MondayBlogs tweets starting Sunday night (it’s already Monday in many parts of the world) and throughout Monday. I typically see a four-fold increase in traffic and comments on Mondays.
If a staff writer is posting, they either upload themselves or send to me (depending on their level of expertise with WordPress), I optimize the post, and then publish on Saturday (weekend typically see more comments). That’s it.
Do what works for you. If you are absolutely opposed to blogging, cool. I find that sharing my posts on social media, and then re-sharing again on Medium, Mogul, and in the Notes section of my public Facebook author page helps to provide maximum impact and visibility. Again, your call. If you don’t want that awesome additional visibility and SEO juice, don’t commit.
Social Media Goals
I wouldn’t be the pro that I am if I didn’t mention this separately from writing. Listen, social media is great for connecting and building relationships with readers and influencers, but not so great for sales. This is why I implore you not to have that automated direct message (autoDM) that says “Hey, thanks for the follow! Please buy my book, leave me a review, and tell all your friends!” because guess what? That doesn’t work. You are asking someone whom you do not know to do you a huge favor.
You have not earned their time, effort, or money. What gives you the right to ask that? No. Do better. Be better.
Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression.
You earn the right, over time, bit by bit. ~ Seth Godin
If you haven’t utilized all the benefits of your various social media bios, do so now. Have a great visual, bio, pinned tweet or post (an option on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ now), be interactive and generous.
Do you have goals for your social media? What’s your branding, keywords, topics of interest? Identify all these and you will know exactly the kinds of content you need to focus on for sharing.
My Social Media Goals:
I have two main branded social media accounts: RachelintheOC (author) and BadRedheadMedia (business). I schedule in content, quotes, etc., using a combo of primarily Hootsuite as well Buffer on Twitter, Facebook (personal and pages), Google+, and LinkedIn. I also post on Instagram and Pinterest directly. This combo works for me.
I’ve spent too much time on social media this year, even with scheduling. This has a lot to do with the time I spend retweeting folks for #MondayBlogs, the sexual abuse advocacy work I do, the fact that I run two chats (#SexAbuseChat and #BookMarketingChat), answer a lot of questions for people (though ‘Google that shit’ is my mantra), and while I stopped talking politics on social media with the exception of about two annoying weeks, I do advocate for women’s issues which creates a lot of conversation. This has all taken away from my own writing time.
So my goal this year is to:
- Completely ignore trolls. I used to have a one-reply rule, but now meh…why bother? If I’m going to make my marketing and writing goals, interacting with trolls takes a lot of energy and I’d rather take the energy and put it toward writing.
- Scheduling even more of a priority: Having goals makes time more finite, so scheduling will take even more of a priority. I love live interacting, and find my best tweets and posts are when I’m live however, I cannot be ON all the time. One of the disadvantages of my business is that I have to keep the windows open all the time to check on client accounts, which means I see my own notifications, too.
- What IS my schedule? I will schedule 6 tweets on Rachel, 5 tweets on BadRedhead Media (sometimes more if I have a chat happening). I am happy with the 5 tweets on my Facebook account and two pages.
- Live interaction: again, I feel it’s crucial to interaction live with folks because a fully-automated stream is cold and frankly, the opposite of building relationships. I love the conversation social media engenders, and is the social part of social media. Using it as a reward is a good goal: get my writing done, I can interact. It’s a win/win.
- Say “No” more often, but…: People ask me an awful lot of questions because they see me as an expert, for which I’m grateful. Because I find they often ask me the same questions, I’m creating a free download which will answer these questions. I can then refer people here to my website instead of answering the same questions over and over.
Long-term, what is your goal?
Mine is to build a tribe of fans, not to necessarily sell a whole bunch of books (though of course, that’d be great, too). I believe one begets the other. This is a function of Permission Marketing (coined by Seth Godin…I’m a fan):
Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention. (Permission Marketing, Seth Godin)
(If you are super into setting goals and learning how to achieve them, read this excellent post by the bald guy, James Clear, whom I mentioned above. Smart dude.)
Creating goals is the first step to achieving them. So, go.
The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge is now available! Do you want to learn how to energize your book sales in a month? Then you need to buy this book.
photos courtesy of unsplash