This is a guest post by D.J. Lowbridge
When I talk about being SMART, I am not talking about the actual intelligence of an author. I am talking about the acumen SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely). Some people would like to think when they write that they will accomplish great goals set in their head: to be a bestseller or to create a kick-ass book. But in reality are either of those targets useful?
What is a kick-ass book; one that you like or your family likes or 100 million readers like? What about being a bestseller—where is the line that divides a mid-list or not-even-on-the-list author from the bestseller? Neither of those goals have defining, measurable borders. And when would you like to complete those tasks by: Christmas, next Christmas, your 100th birthday?
By setting goals with the following criteria you’ll be able to create better, more realistic goals for both your writing and any marketing you would like to do.
Be specific with your goals. Saying you want to be on a bestseller list just isn’t going to cut it as being specific. Do you want to be on the bestseller list for horror, supernatural, or what? And where on that list to do you want to be—at the top, top 10, top 20? Be more specific, and you’ve got a horizon on the endless ocean of e-book marketing to set out for. If you are writing, then that target should not be writing a page today. How long is a page: 250, 500 or 750 words? How about saying, “I will write 750 words”? Be specific.
This really goes with specific in that if you cannot measure your goal, then there is no way to know if you have achieved it. For example, saying you want to write a kick-ass book is great, but how are you going to tell that? Is it based on what you think or what 50 or so reviewers say? Perhaps a better target would be to get 50 5-star reviews on Amazon? Being able to measure your target allows you to see your progress and is also a great motivator.
Is your goal reachable? If you want to be number one on the bestseller list for Amazon erotica, then you have some pretty tough competition. Is your novel worth it? If you want to write 10,000 words a day, do you have the time to do that? Set goals that you know are possible, rather than pipe dreams. But at the same time, don’t just set goals you know you will achieve. Saying you want to write 500 words today when you’ve written on average 1,000 a day so far is not pushing yourself. To strive for something, it should be something that is within reach but requires a little (or a lot of) work.
You’ve got to set yourself a goal that is relevant to your writing. You could easily say that tomorrow you are going to sit down at your computer and by 6 p.m. you will have 100 new followers on Twitter. That may well be Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Timely, but is it relevant to your book? Are those followers all potential readers? Honestly? Or are they people who just saw you posting a lot and thought, ‘I can post my product/service’ about you? Make sure your goals are relevant to your career, skills and book.
So when do you want to achieve that bestseller status? Without a time frame in mind, it is easy to put it off until the next month when you’ll have more time or better luck. But you aren’t then able to measure your progress, nor are you being specific. Have a time frame: If you don’t achieve the goal, at least then you’ll know for the next goal-setting session.
So what are some good goal-setting examples for authors?
1. I will sell 50 books by the end of the month on Amazon
goal is specific and measurable (50 books), attainable (many author can sell this number in a month), relevant and timely (end of the month)
2. My book will have new reviews this month.
Although this goal is measurable, attainable and has a timely manner; it is not specific or relevant. What if the reviews are bad—will that help the author? A better goal would be: My book will have 3 new 4-5 star reviews by the end of the month.
3. I will write 500 words.
This may meet all but one criteria (unless those 500 words aren’t related to your book)—but without a time limit, the writer could easily put this off until the end of the day and then miss the goal. Be specific with your timing. “I will write 500 words of my novel in two hours before 10 p.m.,” for instance.
So what happens if you don’t meet your goals? You sit down, think where it didn’t happen, and set out new goals for the next time period. Perhaps you weren’t relevant enough; perhaps the goal was just too far out of reach. Whatever the reason, it is no reason to be sad. Just remember to reset your goals and move on. And if you have achieved your goals this time, then up your game and aim higher!
And good luck!
About this post’s author:
D.J. Lowbridge is a science fiction, paranormal and horror author from Essex, United Kingdom. His first book release is a short story collection called “Ghost Haunts” and can be bought from Amazon US and Amazon UK. He has two small children and two rabbits, two guinea pigs, two tanks of fish and a Leopold Gecko named Steph. He enjoys spending time at the beach—particularly going crab catching.