How To Be A Smart Author in 2017 – 3 Simple Tools

smartThere’s enough bull shit and hot air on the web to fill an army of hot air balloons. It’s confusing. It’s irritating and frankly it’s totally overwhelming.

But here’s the thing, if you’re an indie author, then the only thing that matters is what you want, what you think, and what you decide.

It’s almost mind-boggling. There aren’t many decisions that are just ours any more. Sometimes I swear societies need for control has gone insane, it’s like their trying to control every single breath we take.

But not as indies. We stick our fingers up and give the corporate conglomerates a big fuck you. Our writing is the product of our minds and our minds only. It’s yours, and no one else can have it, or tell you what to do with it.

But that also means you’re on my own. Where you take your stories is up to you, as is the marketing, the business, the strategy, and the publication.

I’ve said this before, but next year is big for me. I’ll be publishing my first and second, and hopefully third and fourth books. It’s been an excruciatingly slow road to get there and I don’t want to fuck it up now I’m this close. I don’t want to go into to next year disorganised, unplanned and not knowing what I’m doing.

So cut through the crap, and make 2017 you stop listening to everyone else and do it your way. If you do anything, then use these three simple tools and make 2017 your year.

TOOL 1 – SMART GOALS

I know. I know. You don’t like goals. You like going with the flow, you’re a free thinking, harem pant wearing creative hipster. It’s okay, come here, let me cradle you with my tiniest violin of sympathy.

Seriously now. If you want to achieve anything, then you need to know what it is you want to achieve. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how do you know whether you’ve been successful?

But sometimes, defining what you want to achieve is half of the problem. I use SMART to help me define my goals.

objectives-1260156_1920

Image from Pixabay via creative commons

S – Specific – here you need to outline what it is in, in a very specific way, that you want to achieve.

A goal that isn’t specific: I want to ride my bike a long way

A goal that IS specific: I want to ride my bike 48 miles to the nearest lizard brothel house.

M – Measurable – How are you going to know you have achieved it or track whether you are on track to achieving it.

Let’s say you want to double your website traffic – define that, how much is double? Or maybe you want to hit 376 views an hour or eleventy hundred a week. If you haven’t set a measurable goal, you won’t get a sense of achievement.

A – Achievable – How are you going to achieve it? – what’s the action you’ll have to take.

Let’s say you have two goals:

The first is seducing Harry Potter’s right nipple for a ballroom Tango within a week.

The second is collecting the nasal hair from 800 Eastern European slugs in two days by taking a flight to the Ukraine the day before and then working with the prestigious slug universities experts in their slug farm to collect the nasal hair. 

If you don’t know HP then it’s probably not going to happen within a week. It’s not that seducing his right nipple is impossible, more that the time constraint makes it impossible.

BUT even if you didn’t live in Eastern Europe you’ve said how you’ll get there and you have help to achieve it, so even the two days doesn’t seem so impossible. This is an achievable goal…!

R – Realistic – Is it actually an achievable goal? You’ll know if it’s realistic by taking into consideration everything else in your goal.

Lets say you want to double your annual website traffic in a week. Umm. If you’re getting 100,000 views a year that’s going to be unrealistic. If your annual total views is 4, then it becomes much more realistic.

T – Time – How long do you really need to do it?

I’m terrible with time, I always put unrealistic time constraints on myself, so next year, I’m trying to be better behaved.

Here’s an example of one of my goals: Publish my non-fiction Villains book by the end of spring by ensuring I prioritise that writing over any other task, getting beta feedback in January, an editing slot in Feb/March, a cover designed at least a month prior to launch and writing my marketing plan three months in advance.

TOOL TWO – THE BUSINESS PLAN

Image from Pixabay via creative commons

Image from Pixabay via creative commons

But I just paint beautiful pictures with words, and express my creative love for life through the weaving of flowery stories… Why do I need a business plan?

Well, ask yourself this: Do you want to write full-time and your creative pursuits to pay your bills?

If the answer is no, then no, you don’t need a business plan. But if your answer is yes. Then you absolutely do need one.

If you want to write full-time, and want your writing to pay your bills then what you got ain’t no creative hippy love bullshit. It’s a goddamn writing business. OOHRAH

It’s not a hobby folks. It’s a fucking company, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Your books are assets and your mind is a freaking beehive of money-making potential. TREAT YOUR WRITING LIKE A BUSINESS. Because you can’t grow your money-making writing potential unless you’re treating your writing like a business. If you got a business, you need a business growth plan.

Angela Ackerman has written a cracking guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog on business planning. I took her free download and tweaked it to suit me – I tweaked the columns to ensure I had SMART in the table, and now I gots me a bidness plan yo. I suggest you gawjus folks do the same.

Image from Pixabay via creative commons

Image from Pixabay via creative commons

TOOL THREE – THE MARKETING PLAN

Now, some people have some vague idea of a marketing plan, others don’t have a clue at all.

But the biggest mistake I find when talking to people about marketing, is the lack of vision. The focus for a book falls on the launch, then, when it’s over, it poofs into book heaven. Forgotten, discarded in place of the next book project’s 3 month launch period.

Image from Gify

Image from Gify.com

No, no, no, no.

Why would you do that? These books come assets, can give you income for life. Why would you focus on just the first three months of its life? It’s still an infant, a dribbling, snivelling newborn incapable of walking let alone bringing home the big bucks.

Think big people. Think really big. When you create a marketing plan, don’t just focus on the launch. Focus on its lifetime. Now okay, that’s a bit overwhelming, so just focus on one year at a time. Write your marketing plan for a year. Then, when that year’s over, write another fucking marketing plan because guess what, your book can STILL make you money.

Here’s a template I made just for me you.

How are you going to be a smarter author in 2017? Let me know in the comments.

That’s it for another week folks – Next week I have an announcement… so stay tuned.

If you like my writing tips, why not sign up for my newsletter too 😀 Sign up here.

 

53 comments

  1. Sacha, I love how you just cut to the chase ? And I totally agree with each of these points – being an indie author is like running a small business. Even a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants Pantser writer like me has a plan – you just have to if you want to get anywhere. Also, and I think this is also key, you need to understand your brand, so you can tailor all your other stuff (blog, social media etc) to fit the brand.

    1. Just blushing. ALL the blushing. Thank you.

      And glad you agree – the more I get into writing, the more I realise how crucial planning is – unfortunately, I am pained to say that while dictation has already nearly quadrupled my output speeds, I have already realised I really need to move towards the plotting end of the spectrum, or at least much more so than I am now. SIGHHHHHHHH.

      1. Well, that’s the other side of it – sometimes you can get so caught up in the planning/promoting stuff you forget to do any actual, you know, writing. Sigh indeed. It’s a tough balancing act. I am well behind at the moment but hey, tomorrow is a new day 🙂

        1. haha, completely been there. In fact, that’s what mad me do NaNo the first year – because I’d spent so long planning I’d done no writing!

  2. I’m hoping 2017 will be the year I finally complete something. I’ve been working on some of novels for so long that I hope to finally have them “ready.” Though I’ve said that for the past two years, so hopefully 2017 will be the one! Third time’s the charm, right?

    1. I have a good feeling about 2017, I suspect its going to be a good year for everyone 😀 Third time is definitely the charm.

  3. I have a loose marketing plan for 2017 in the run-up to publishing my first novel, but the whole “starting a business” thing is still an intimidating prospect. So I’ve told myself I’ll get to it after the new year 😛

    1. As soon as you publish you have a business, it doesn’t need to be a big scary thing, but I totally understand how the word has a lot of connotations around it. I am wishing you all the best of luck.

  4. I’m a firm believer in writing down step-by-step detailed goals. I do it for my writing. I don’t do it for my marketing. Inside my head, promotion has been the wild west. I’m going to have to write a goal to write goals for a detailed promotion plan for 2017 before the end of 2016. Maybe I just did write the goal to write the goals for 2017. Sigh!

    And I’d never set a goal to visit the lizard brothel house, because Trump and his deplorable cabinet would be there groping the hot, sexy, blond, vuluptous, super-model lizards that all have Russian accents while stealing all the lizards’ profits, and then the Trumpeters would file bankruptcy to avoid paying the bill after taking the lizards to court for not lizard sucking hard enough. Anyway, that was the first thought that burst into flame when I read, “I want to ride my bike 48 miles to the nearest lizard brothel house.”

    :o)

    1. hahaha write a goal to write goals. Yeah alas, the market is constantly changing and if we don’t keep up, we don’t stand a chance. It’s very frustrating.

      so many lols. I’m not sure where the lizard brothel came from, but I’ll blame Trump anyway, no doubt it was his fault! :p

      1. “Lizard brothel” is an extension of “draining the lizard”, a term I picked when I was a U.S. Marines. “Draining the lizard” is slang for urinating. Marines do a lot of lizard draining. By extension, there is even jerking of the lizard.

        And in a flash while writing my previous comment, I extended that slang into a metaphor to describe the size of Donald Trump’s you-know-what, specifically the lizard that motivates him to grope women without their permission, and the only place he can find the right sized female would be a lizard brothel that only hires Jaragua lizards to service their smallest sized clients. After all, Trump is a chameleon too. He’d feel right at home.

        To any lizard lovers, I did not mean to disparage or insult real lizards with this metaphor.

        Did you know that human’s most instinctive drives reside in an area of our brain inherited from reptiles? It’s called the reptilian brain and it’s the oldest of the three parts of our brains that controls the body’s vital functions. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.

        http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_05/d_05_cr/d_05_cr_her/d_05_cr_her.html

        And I did not write this comment with a serious, sober expression. Now excuse me, I must sign off to go drain my lizard.

        1. LOL. I’m fairly sure the lizard lovers aren’t offended! While I didn’t know about the term draining the lizard, I DID know about the reptilian part of the brain – I studied psychology, so knew it from that – proper fascinating.

    1. Hey, really sorry if I annoyed you. But I don’t have a buy my stuff page because I haven’t published yet! I’m publishing in spring. Did I miss something? Once again, sorry if I’ve upset u.

  5. oh bloody hell, well, yes, of course you’re right but when will i ever actually do this? I really need to be broke then I’ll fix it but right now I need to cook dinner….

  6. Yes! I totally agree and I love plans. I don’t think my current plan meets your criteria, though.
    1) Edit the plot of my book until it makes sense (mostly) by the end of June.
    2) Edit the not-plot of my book until it is irresistible to read by the end of December.
    3) Blog twice a week for a year, then reconsider.

  7. Wonderful, meaty, nuts and bolts post! Eww! Now, I’m picturing ground beef and a pile of screws, but hopefully, you get my point! I mix metaphors when excited.

    Would you be interested in being a guest at #StoryDam chat for writers on December 15th? It would be great to discuss the points in your post at one of our Thursday night chats (8-9pm Eastern time.) And no problem if you’re not up to being a guest; I will definitely share this post and tag you on Twitter when I do! Also, I know December can be hectic… so maybe you could be our chat guest in January? (You can email me at TuiSnider at gmail if you’re interested!)

    ~Tui Snider, @TuiSnider dropping by via #MondayBlogs on Twitter

    1. Hey, I am so sorry for the delay, it tends to take me a week or so to reply as I have so much on at the moment. I would love to be a guest, can we arrange it for after the new year? It’d be a honour. Thank you for your lovely comments.

  8. I used to use SMART when I worked in the professional world. So I’m on board for #1. Then I read #2 Business Plan and threw up. Ha ha. Really? Do I have to? Can’t I just write.? Okay, then #3, yeah. I’m getting better at this and it’s paying off. Can #2 be the same as #3? I want to combine them 🙂
    Great post, Sacha!

    1. Haha! Yeah sorry about that… umm, umm, no excuses for two. But I guess u could combine? I guess the difference between two and three is that with 2, you have a vision, a place u see ur books/company in a few years, it’s about defining whether you take the left path or the right. Where as the marketing plan is more about where, when and how you plan on shouting the loudest. ??

  9. I especially jelled to #3. I’m working my way through a marketing plan, but you’re so right in that it doesn’t stop after the first three months of your book being launched. One bit of advise I can add is that anyone who gets requests to do interviews and/or write features about their new book should do so, but ask that the articles are spread out over many months rather than all being published within a month of the book launch. I’m still learning (from you and many others) and I’m now doing stuff I’d never thought I’d be doing this time last year.

    1. Exactly, most people see a dip in sales after the 3 month lunch period anyway, so it’s more important to focus marketing on that point after anyway. That’s a great piece of advice – couldn’t agree more ??

  10. Sacha, your post is right on! Even knowing “better,” I threw my eBook out there in July. It was really just for the experience, but the more I read posts (and more how-to self-publish books) like yours and saw others successfully launching books via blogs, I knew I had to utilize Kindle’s KDP program to relaunch this fall. You are right that marketing is continuous and several fellow bloggers have graciously promo’d my book. I have another eBook in the works and hope to spend my time off from lecturing for the next 6 weeks, to get busy!

    1. Lol, knowing better sometimes doesn’t mean we do the thing we know we should! But it sounds like you’re well on track though with touring and KDP. It’s just one long slog! We just have to try and enjoy the journey in the meantime.

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