Fresh Goals for a Fresh Year

Every year I talk about how I hate New Years Resolutions because they never stick; I prefer goals. I usually publish this post as I’m ringing in the New Year on New Year’s Eve, but this year I decided to wait until I got back from vacation. (We spent two weeks in Florida with family to celebrate the holidays this year.) This is when my new work year begins in earnest. It seems appropriate the first task should be to outline what I’d like to accomplish by this time next year.

How I did in 2016
I started measuring my daily word counts in 2014 when I undertook my ‘100 words of work a day‘ yearly goal. It was such a morale booster to see physical evidence of my accomplishments, that I kept even better track of my working words in 2015, adding trackers for individual projects and monthly word tallies. 2016 was my best year yet; in fact I did so much better than I anticipated, I have to extend my goals for this year if I want to eclipse what I did in 2016!

Here was my list of writing goals for 2016:
~Polish and publish Sea of Twisted Souls
~Edit Dreamers Do Lie and begin queries
~Write Life is But a Dream (sequel to Dreamers Do Lie)
~Start a side project involving serial short stories; publish one a month starting in May

Polish and Publish Sea of Twisted Souls
I did this! Sea of Twisted Souls went live on all retailers on March 20th 2016 (though I have since changed all three of the trilogy’s covers), closing a decade long chapter of my life. Between planning and editing, it took only 1,913 words to bring this trilogy to completion.

Edit Dreamers Do Lie and begin queries
I did this! I put 20,531 words of work into Dreamers Do Lie this year (most of that was subtracted) before I sent it out to my beta readers (who have given me fantastic feedback for polishing this work). I even sent out a few queries which netted me a partial request. I have, however, held back on more serious queries because the feedback from my beta readers is that there are a few details which need tweaked to make this novel shine. That’s going to be my first task for 2017 and then the queries will get serious!

Write Life is But a Dream
I did this! The sequel to Dreamers Do Lie rings in at 131,059 words – which is 11,000 words longer than I expected it to be! Life is But a Dream was a mad journey wherein I struggled to write a book I didn’t quite feel skilled enough to manage, and somehow wasn’t disappointed with the results. I’ve got a list of edits the book requires to bring it up to quality standards, but I’m pretty smitten with how the first draft turned out. I can’t wait to tear this thing apart and put it back together again – another goal for 2017.

Start a side project involving serial short stories; publish one a month starting in May
I (mostly) did this! This side project became Eternity’s Empire, a magical girl story featuring several college students who discover they possess the powers of ancient goddesses. Each chapter is about 10,000 words long and their format is mini episodes which connect into a larger whole. I pushed back the initial publication of the first chapter to June to ensure that I could release five chapters in quick succession. Unfortunately, due to several pressing commitments near the end of the year, I wasn’t able to start releasing the second set of chapters. But five feels like a pretty good run for a first try! In total, I devoted 48,737 words worth of work to Eternity’s Empire this year.

Across all of my work this year (including other short stories, writing prompts and blogs), I did a grand total of 348,709 words of work. Considering my tentative goal was 300,000, that’s outstanding. I was going to set my 2017 goal at 350,000 words of work, but I doubt it would be a stretch to find that extra 2,000 words. 257,384 words worth of that total were generated by creative writing. When I consider there was a time it took me years to write 150,000 words, my mind is blown.

What are my plans for 2017?
~Finish Dreamers Do Lie and query hardcore
~Edit Life is But a Dream so that it is fit to be seen by my beta readers
~Pull Symphony of the Stars out of hiatus and edit/re-write the book so that it is also fit for a new round of beta reading.
~Write, edit and publish 10 chapters of Eternity’s Empire (Plus 3 collections of 5 chapters each)

That may seem like a lot, but it’s actually only a little bit more than I managed to do last year. Since I already hit close to 350,000 words in 2016, I’d love to see if I could hit 400,000 (!) words of work in 2017, and it would be awesome if I could make 300,000 of those words come from creative writing.

But as my publishing journey continues, I am learning that writing goals aren’t always enough. I learned a lot about marketing in 2016, and I need to learn even more in 2017 in order to get my work into the hands of readers. The trouble with setting marketing goals is that I’m still in the learning stages and, thus, don’t know how to quantify what will actually help me. But I’m going to dive straight into the deep end and see how it goes!

Marketing Goals for 2017
~Reach 1,000 Newsletter Subscribers. I started my newsletter in earnest in November and I’m already just shy of a quarter of the way to this goal. In theory, if I stay focused and on top of things, it should be achievable. I’ve got lots of fun ideas for features in future newsletters as well, to make it worth clicking every month.

~Learn more. This should probably be at the top of the list, but since it’s harder to quantify, I put it second. I broke a long-standing barrier between myself and understanding marketing in 2016, now I need to soak up even more information and learn how to turn it into numbers.

~Devote some money to advertising. As soon as I determine the best place to start; I have a seed fund saved up, I just need to learn how to turn it into profit for future re-investment.

~Achieve a modest monthly income. That has been the goal all along, but I’ve never written it down. Hopefully if I keep referring back to my goals, and make them the center of my focus, I will finally be able to achieve this goal. I was warned from the start that having a back catalog was a requirement of reaching this goal – now I have one, so let’s see what I can do, shall we?

What are your goals for 2017?

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