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Resolve to Set Goals
by Kathryn Lay
Year after year we make resolutions for the New Year. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Exercise more. Save money. Mend relationships. Stop bad habits.
As writers, we have our own resolutions. We make them to become a better writer, sell a book or break into a large magazine, sell a certain amount of writing or make a certain amount of money.
But these type of resolutions, like the others, are hard to keep because
a) we lose our motivation when it gets tough or
b) we learn that some resolutions are not entirely under our control.
Consider the idea of not making writing resolutions this year to be a successful, selling writer. Instead, set writing goals.
- I will market X amount of dollars worth of writing versus I will make X amount of dollars.
Year before last my goal was to make a certain amount of writing a month. When that didn’t happen every month, I felt discouraged and down on myself and my writing. But I kept submitting, kept making and meeting goals, kept trying. And suddenly, the last month of the year I got a contract for more than my whole yearly goals had been.
If your desire is to sell a specific amount this year, set a marketing goal to submit five or ten times that amount’s worth this year.
Sometimes your work will sell, perhaps quickly, and sometimes it won’t. Make a goal that you have control over keeping. I sometimes set a goal of marketing a ‘potential’ specific amount a day, week, or month. It might be a manuscript, a query, or a book proposal. I don’t pressure myself into thinking…I must sell $100 in writing this week. Instead, I’ll think, ‘if I market $100 worth this week and next and next, one of those might happen.’
- I will submit X amount of writing versus I will sell X amount of writing this year.
Few people sell everything they submit. I don’t, even though I sell a large percentage, I know I won’t sell everything I write, at least not right away.
Selling a manuscript or idea isn’t under your control. As I mentioned above, find what IS under your control and do that. A sale is ultimately decided on by an editor or publisher. What is under our control is the writing, revising, studying markets, and marketing.
- I will submit to larger/new markets versus I will break into a specific larger/new market.
Again, the acceptance isn’t under our control. I’ve learned to take chances and shoot for the highest paying market possible for my work. I’ve been told about markets that I didn’t think I could break into, but I tried anyway. Sometimes I was rejected, sometimes it was a sale. But either way, I learned to not be discouraged by the rejection as long as I made the effort.
If you want to meet certain financial goals or see your work in larger publications or a book versus a magazine piece, make lists for your manuscripts and begin at the top market. If you have a list of ten possible magazines for a piece and begin at the top market, and it eventually sells a little lower than you’d hoped, you’ve still made a sell and you’ve made the effort to go for the best first.
- I will invest in a writing course on a specific area of my writing or attend a conference versus I will become a better writer.
We all hope to become better writers. But without a plan, that is a resolution likely to be left behind. Becoming a better writer takes work and effort. Maybe your dream is to write a children’s book. In this tough market the chances of selling one without studying the market, understanding what makes up a certain type of children’s book for a certain age, or possibly making a contact with an editor or agent is rare.
Whether it’s writing travel pieces, children’s picture books, or romance novels, set goals to learn and study, to grow and be taught.
In the year 2010, avoid the trap of making another resolution sure to fail. Instead, figure out what your own personal writing goals are and find a way to meet them throughout the whole year. You may find that your byline and bank account grows with your goals.
© Copyright 2010, Kathryn Lay
Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through firstname.lastname@example.org
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