failing to plan, you are planning to fail" - Ben
True success - in every field - begins with a plan. I do
not mean the plan to actually WRITE
That step forms only a portion of the total process
required in creating publishing success. I mean the plan
to get your book to the stage where you originally
imagined you wanted it to reach.
Goals and plans are important for almost every aspect of
your life. Your writing career should be no different.
The problem with goals is that many of the best plans
fall by the wayside. People get distracted, better plans
are made, easier plans are found or circumstances change.
The simple truth is, if you want to succeed, you should
devise a plan that suits you and stick to it. You can
always revise a plan as you go, or add to it or amend it,
but as long as you stick to your basic plan, you will
reach your goal.
Your plan should be a blueprint of your goals and desires
and should contain several realistic steps required to
help you to achieve the end result.
So, the first step in creating your goals should be: know your end result.
The 'end result' is not the point where you stop selling
books, or quit writing books. It is simply being able to
pinpoint where the desired outcome of your efforts should
Imagine ordering a plane ticket without an end
destination in mind. The booking officer will need to
know where you want to go before the necessary steps can
be taken to get you there.
By recognizing the desired outcome of your goal, you can
begin to put in place the necessary steps that will help
to create the desired effect.
Find Your End Result
No two goals are alike.
Some writers are happy to give their books away to
friends and family or as promotional tools to increase
name recognition. Others want to see plenty of sales
generated to increase their chances of a bigger audience
with the next book. Still others yearn for the six-figure
advances that some popular authors can command.
No matter what your desired end result for your book is,
the most important thing to realize is that you do have a
destination in mind.
Although it will be the first goal you create, this
destination will form the final step in your own
blueprint to publishing success.
Your Starting Point
Obviously, in order to know where you're going, you'll
need to know what your starting point is.
Be honest with yourself during this step. Only include
actual publication credits you've had to date. Include
any writing projects you currently have under way. Add
any intended projects you hope to work on when time
becomes available. It doesn't matter if you have never
had anything published before - even the biggest writers
If you currently have a "day-job", include this
factor into your starting point. Working long hours at
another job can take away precious time for writing and
promoting your work, but remaining at work can mean that
you will continue to bring in a steady income until your
books reach a point of being able to provide an alternate
The point is to acknowledge your current position and
then take steps to alter your position so that it more
accurately reflects on where you want to end up.
Getting from where you are now to where you wish to end
involves creating a sequence of logical steps designed to
get you there. Think carefully about the steps you wish
to include. Everything you devise here should be created
with the goal of reaching your end result in mind. If the
action does not move your goal further toward completion,
then ask yourself if it is really necessary.
Be fair with yourself. Include only baby steps that you
know can be realistically met. Be a little wary of
setting huge steps - with baby steps, you still have the
opportunity to monitor your progress along the way. If
your path seems a little skewed, or the results are not
turning out the way you planned, you can still amend your
goals and continue.
Only you can decide what steps to put into achieving your
own end result.
Once you have set out your starting point and your
finishing point, you will realize that there is an
awfully large gap in the middle of the two. This step of
your plan is where you put together the necessary ways to
get you from your starting point to your end result.
The implementation stage should contain several steps,
each moving your career and your book's sales further
These steps could include:
· Time management
· Creative Writing
· Editing and Revising
The single greatest step in this phase is to write your
book. Publication, marketing, sales, promotions, book
signings - these are all steps that should follow the
actual writing process, as none of these things can
happen until that book is written.
Set yourself an estimated deadline to achieve each step
of your plan. This may put added pressure on you, but it
may also offer you the opportunity to complete tasks in a
much quicker time span.
Arrange your plan to reflect the order in which you
believe will be the most efficient way to attain your own
end result. Include any outside factors that you believe
can contribute to your books' success.
No plan goes exactly according to schedule. Plans can be
altered or modified, circumstances can change, priorities
can shift. Anything can happen to throw you from your
path to success.
This is where monitoring of your plan becomes important.
By acknowledging each situation as it arises, you can
amend your plan suitably so that you can work around the
obstacle and still reach your end result.
It does not mean that you have failed in any way if you
do not reach your goal in the original time-span
allotted. It simply means that it is time to adjust those
goals accordingly and keep working toward them.
As you reach each goal you've set for yourself, it is
important to revisit your original goals and begin to
outline new ones.
By setting a small, realistic goal and then reaching that
end result, you will learn that immediately setting
another goal that takes your career another step further
will be easily manageable.
However, do not be tempted to set your goals at
impossible heights. Do not give in to the temptation to
set your end result as "Write more books than
Stephen King". Instead, focus on the first goal you
wish to achieve - in most cases, complete just one book
and get that published.
Then, when you have achieved that goal, go ahead and
revisit your plans to include several more titles.
Set yourself tasks that you can handle realistically.
These same rules for setting goals can be applied to
almost any situation in which you might find yourself .
Let's assume that your first Goal is to actually sit down
and write your book. These Goal outlines can still be
effective in helping you to achieve your desired end
Your End Result: Obviously, the end result here is a
completed manuscript. Not-so-obviously, the end result
you might be looking for is a plot that is neatly
concluded into a satisfying finish.
"... and they lived
happily ever after"
Your Starting Point: Page one is where the action starts.
However, not every book begins with action. Where does
your story start? Do you know where the logical beginning
should be? Have you created a great opening 'hook' to
lure your reader further into the pages?
upon a time, Jane was arrested for the murder of her
Steps: A lot
can happen between the beginning and the end. Create a
series of brief outlines to help keep you focused on the
path you want your plot to take. Knowing ahead of time
where each section is supposed to end can be a handy way
of monitoring whether your progress is on track or not.
The arresting Sergeant saw things in the clues that led
him to believe that Jane was innocent, and together they
set out to find the real killer."
the meantime, they fall madly in love..."
This is where you apply your bottom to the seat, take a
pen in hand and fill in the blank sections between your
starting point and your end result, using your logical
steps as a guide.
No matter what your end result is, and no matter what
your ultimate goals are, there will always be a section
that involves you setting out to fill in the blank
sections from starting point and end result.
There are times when better options present themselves.
There are also times when life intrudes on even the
best-made plans, and you are forced to amend them. If
your plan seems to be straying from its path, ask
yourself if the change is for the better, or for the
worse. Will you still be able to reach the original end
result? Is it time to alter the end result to something
sneaky Jane took advantage of the Sergeant's love to
cover up her secret guilt and made sure that the clues
all pointed to him as being the murderer. Now they no
longer live happily ever after. Jane does, but the
Sergeant lives miserably behind bars."
What happens once your goals are met? Do you stop, sit
back and rest on your laurels? No way! This is where you
revisit those goals. Create a Book Two. Write a
goal-outline to get Book One published. Write goals for
the marketing and promotion of your first novel. Set
higher limits for yourself to reach.
No matter what your situation is, setting realistic goals
will help to keep your career on track, and make
advancing a reality instead of a dream.
Copyright Lee Masterson. All rights reserved.