Tag Archives: writing goals

Are You Aiming Too High?

Ask most unpublished fiction writers about their goals and they’re likely to tell you they want to land a publishing contract and secure a spot on the bestseller list. The odds are heavily stacked against that kind of success, even for writers who produce a high-quality novel. High expectations can lead to disappointment and dejection.

My expectations have shifted over the years–not that I ever got deluded into thinking I would get on The New York Times bestseller list. It’s not that I don’t believe I am capable of writing a bestseller, but I’m a realist. Goals and expectations are two different things. A writer should set realistic goals and work to achieve them. Expectations are a different animal. Writers in many cases set realistic goals and unrealistic expectations. There is a school of thought that if a writer puts in the time and effort over a period of years, success will naturally follow. In short, a writer could do everything right, from learning the craft to producing a gem of a novel, and still struggle along as an unpublished author.

I’ve read numerous blog posts by writers (accomplished or not) who seem stunned and hurt that they have not gotten published. It’s a numbers game. By some estimates a million books (traditional and self-published) are produced each year. Publishers select books that they believe will sell. I know unpublished writers who are probably in the 90th percentile among traditional and self-published authors in terms of the quality of their writing, but they have not succeeded in attracting a wide audience for their work.

My expectation is to produce and publish a novel each year. My goal is to eventually achieve sufficient revenue from sales to support my writing habit–enough to hire a book editor, designer, marketing support and maybe attend a writer’s conference or two. About ten grand would be nice, but I’m nowhere near that now. That is clearly a “stretch goal.”

Some might describe these as low goals and expectations, but unreachable goals only produce frustration and disappointment.

What are your goals and expectations?


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2012 Goals

Goals provide benchmarks for writers to measure their progress. A new year is an ideal time for the writer to sit down and set some realistic and achievable goals. Writers should set goals that are appropriate for their skill level and experience. For a novice writer, starting a novel and writing 50,000 words in a year is an achievable goal. I’ve been writing fiction since 1997, which means my goals must be more ambitious.

Here are my goals:

  • Publish my first novel, Small Change, through the Kindle Direct Publishing program.
  • Implement my marketing plan for my first novel.
  • Finish and publish my current work-in-progress, Life of the Party: A Tale of Politics, Rap Music, and Social Media.
  • Revise the first draft of my second novel, Color Him Father.
  • Write a 100,000 word novel.
  • Attend a writer’s conference.
  • Read at least 25 books, including at least two books on the craft of fiction writing.
  • Maintain my blog and post new essays at least twice a year.
  • Engage regularly with other writers.

Here’s wishing everybody a happy and productive new year.

What are your goals for 2012?


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