This article first appeared in the Winter 2008 Coastal Connection, the newsletter of First Coast Romance Writers.
The start of a new year is often when many writers reflect on their progress. Whether we’re beginning writers or multi-published authors, goal-setting can help motivate us onward. Perhaps one of these six goals will be your new year’s resolution:
I WILL FINISH THE BOOK. There is no shortcut to this basic goal. You must serve time in the chair to up your word count. Granted, writing isn’t just about how many pages you can churn out, but that’s a good place to start. Write the book.
I WILL LEARN HOW TO WRITE BETTER. If completing a book seems impossible, take time to learn more about the craft of writing. Chapter meetings offer excellent nuts and bolts sessions, as do writer conferences and classes. With the touch of a computer key, you can navigate across the web and find online instruction without leaving the comfort of your home. Build your skills.
I WILL ENTER A WRITING CONTEST. Contests can be helpful in identifying rookie errors. If you want to hone your work before you submit to a publisher, a writing contest can provide valuable feedback. Alternately, a critique partner or a published author mentor can also shepherd you toward your goal. No one will laugh at you. Everyone has the same fear of failure and rejection. Learn to deal with these feelings now because they come into play for published and unpublished authors. Get feedback on your work.
I WILL GET AN AGENT OR A BOOK CONTRACT. Put aside those excuses of last year. Target your goal and make a serious run at it. Create a spreadsheet of places and people where you can send your book. Send out a steady stream of queries and track your progress. Get busy right now.
I WILL MARKET MY BOOK. Authors today have to multi-task. They have to write the next book, edit the contracted book, and promote the released book. Send out those press releases. Schedule interviews and appearances. Arrange book signings. Those books won’t sell themselves. Being an introvert is no excuse. Get up and get going.
I WILL GET A BETTER DEAL ON MY NEXT BOOK. No matter where you are on the publication ladder, you want to grow your fan base and parlay that into better contract offers. Maybe you need to switch to a more aggressive agent or a different publishing house. Don’t let friendship or fear of failure hold you back. Take a serious look at your writing career and take the necessary steps to reach your goals. Be objective about business matters.
Think about where you’d like to be by this time next year. Make a plan to get there. Implement the plan. You can do it, one step at a time.