Say Anything Saturday – Setting Goals I Can Achieve

S. J. Pajonas May 7, 2016
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It’s Say Anything Saturday! And I totally got that title from one of my favorite Facebook groups (Thanks CLC!) Anyway, I think I’ll take Saturdays, occasionally, to talk about whatever I want to. Why not? It’s my own blog, and I love the excuse to do a theme!

While the husband is away, I will update my website and newsletter, and drink wine from a Solo cup? Sounds thrilling. 😜 #dailyphoto #365days #ig2016So, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately because that’s something I do. I’m a Capricorn and I’m nothing without goals. Goals are good. Goals motivate me. Goals keep me in line. But remember what I said at the beginning of the year? That this would be the year I give no fucks? I’m here to say, THAT’S REALLY HARD. This is probably the hardest year’s theme I’ve ever set. 2015 was the year I said NO, and that was easy in comparison. I said NO to a lot of stuff that year and I continue to do so. But not giving a fuck? Man, that is tough. When I watch a book of mine fail, I want to give a fuck. When I lose money on ads, I’m giving fucks before I can stop myself. When I haven’t written anything in three months, I’m giving fucks like I’m drowning in them. Sigh. It’s so hard. This is something I’m obviously working on, and maybe it’ll be better by the end of the year.

I realized this past week that I’ve made a few mistakes in setting goals for my author career. What mistakes would those be? I had set several goals that I couldn’t control the outcome of, most of them in regards to sales or money earned. I can do my damnedest to write an appealing and enthralling story, put an awesome cover on it, market it to the best of my ability, and still, I may never sell a copy of that book. It’s just the way things are, and sometimes no matter what I do from then on, it may still never sell. So even though I accomplished a lot, I sell myself short for everything that came up to that moment: the writing, the editing, the publishing.

SPF-010-banner-1500pxI listened to a podcast last night while taking care of the dishes, The Self-Publishing Formula Podcast, and their guest was the prolific romance author, Bella Andre. I loved all she had to say about writing and publishing. She was thrilling and full of good advice. At some point in the podcast, they mentioned that she has A LOT of books out, more than 50, and the hosts, Mark and James, were astounded by that. I have a few of her books myself so I jumped on Amazon and checked out her catalog and she had over 200 entries on Amazon (many of these box sets and what not) and 69 books published since 2007 (there may be more or less but it’s hard to tell on Amazon what’s a translation or a new edition or whatever). Nine years, seventy books. That’s 7-8 books per year! That’s amazing! Her best piece of advice and what she stressed in her interview was Write Your Next Book. WRITE IT…

And then the lightbulb went off in my head. I had been setting the wrong goals for myself! What I should be doing is setting a long-term goal I can actually work on and achieve. I turned 40 this year and I have already published seven books. Numbers 8 and 9, possibly 10, will be this year. What if I said…

I will publish 40 books by the time I’m 50 years old.

No goals for sales. No goals for money earned. Books, in this sense, will be anything 30k or more (if I bundle short stories, that can count as 1 book). And right now I will need 3.3 books per year to make that goal.

Is that crazy? It certainly feels incredibly motivating. I’m sure I’ll have some years when I don’t think I’ll make it because I only publish two books instead of three or four. But I like a really lofty goal, and if I came even kinda close, I would be really excited about that.

So, what do you think? A good goal? A stupid idea? Should I go for it? Let me know what you think in the comments!

ETA (June 22, 2016): I changed this goal from 50 books to 40 books because that seemed like a more achievable goal!

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  • Honestly, if you need the goal, set it. But, in my opinion, just write. Write the words, get the books out. Maybe you’ll meet 50. Maybe you’ll write 60. Or perhaps even 40. But, write. You have so much to share and so much knowledge and I love everything you publish. I agree giving no fucks is hard. I say it all the time — to try and NOT to when I do. Set the goal, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach it. Write like you don’t give a fuck. Write like you can write 1,000 books by the time you’re 50. Just write. Because I know you can.

    • I am totally goal oriented. When I worked in an office, I set goals every year (learn PHP, master regular expressions in Perl, etc) and it helped keep me motivated. I lose interest in things if I don’t have goals. But yeah, even if I get close to this goal, I’ll be happy. It’s been tough these past 2-3 years failing at EVERY SINGLE publishing goal but one. I need something to work towards!

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  • iwanttobelieve

    How long does it take you to write a *good* 30k novella – from start to publication? I write mostly 30k novellas, and while they only take me a week to pop out, they take a couple of months to go through my two critique groups, beta reads, and copyediting. I’ve written quite a few (like thirteen complete ones and many more half-written) that I haven’t published yet because I couldn’t get them to publishing quality for one reason or another. Usually unlikable heroines.

    I’m asking because maybe it’s better to say you will *write* 50 books by the time you are 50, not that you will *publish* 50 books by the time you are 50. You might have ten that you don’t publish, but book #36 might be the one that makes you famous.

    I will tell you that it’s an amazing goal, and that the writing and editing of 50 books can only help you perfect your craft and make a lot more money. But I would caution you against publishing every book you write, or publishing too quickly. In my experience, it is only those people who critique, beta, rewrite, critique, beta, rewrite, and repeat over and over that get better and better at their craft and publish things that make more money because they are hitting their target market with what they want to read. Also, it’s only the people who are discerning about what they publish that readers trust. I don’t read authors when the likability of their books is hit and miss for me. I want to read a good book every time.

    That’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.

    • Hi there! Thanks for all your input. Hmmm, let’s see. Most of my books are actually 80k+, so 4-5 weeks to write, beta for 2 weeks (during which I may start to write another), 15 days to edit, and then proofread by someone else. Done. All downtime is usually spent working on another project. I can usually publish 3 or 4 books plus a few short stories per year, and this year I plan to start publishing non-fiction too which doesn’t require as many substantial edits.

      I no longer go through the critique, beta, rewrite process more than once. I used to with my first books because I didn’t plot them. Now, I get the kinks worked out in the plotting stage. I also don’t write books I’m not going to publish anymore. I stopped doing that two years ago. My audience is hard to define because I genre hop which is why my books do not always appeal to my readers. I have scifi readers, contemporary romance readers, and mystery readers and they pick and choose what they want to read. For at least the next couple of years I’ll be concentrating on scifi and mystery.

      “It’s only the people who are discerning about what they publish that readers trust.” I wonder if you think that just because I have set a publishing goal for myself, I’m suddenly going to be publishing crap? That it has given me an excuse to publish lower-quality work? If you do think this, then you don’t really know me. 🙂 I’m more than capable of producing good work at a fast pace. I dictate and write pretty fast and the quality doesn’t suffer. In fact, it gets better each time. So, this statement doesn’t apply to me. I have a little less than ten years to publish 42 books. It’s more than within reach! And like I said in the post, if I even get close, I should be happy, but setting a lofty goal, one I have to push for, is important.

      Thanks for stopping by!