Writing and publishing strategy in 2021 – PART TWO: Let's do this.

I've also got a podcast episode on writing and publishing strategy for 2021.


Now that you’ve asked yourself the important questions and figured out what rocked and what didn’t in 2020, it’s time to look forward. 2021 – let’s do this. 


The first thing I like to do each year is visualise how amazing I want the year to be. I think of things that would make me happy – travel, more time to write, more time with family and friends, bills paid off, etc. Things that make me feel secure and loved and uplifted.


You can blow up the vision to a fantastical scale, imagining jet setting and untold riches and all those things, then pull it back to something more realistic, but also something a vision that’s a bit of a stretch – that puts you in a better place than you’re in now.


I do this kind of visualising based more on feelings and what makes me happy then numbers or anything like that. Numbers come later. 


Once you’re holding that vision in your mind, I start to look at how my writing goals will support that vision. How will your writing bring you closer to that life you want? Sometimes this is about the amount of money you can bring in, but often it’s not. Often it’s more about doing something creatively fulfilling, seeing your books in print, creating a tribe of other writers, finding more time for creativity, or cutting back on work you don’t enjoy. 


Any goal-setting guru will talk about SMART goals a lot. I’m not a fan. I think the SMART system is a bit unnecessarily complex. What by when is simpler – what are you going to do, and when will you do it by. You can use what by when for goals that run across the whole year (I’m going to earn $50k in 2020) and smaller microgoals (I’m going to write 15,000 words by Sunday). 


Be specific about your what and when. “I want to write” is not a goal. “I want to finish my book by April” is a goal. 


I have one goal this year. It’s a revenue goal. Why?


There’s an argument that writers and creative people shouldn’t make income goals because the money is “out of your control.” I see the reasoning but I disagree with this FOR ME PERSONALLY.


Why? Because I run a business, and the business – like any other business – has revenue goals. To a certain extent, the other elements of your writing business don’t matter as long as you’re hitting this goal. I think about my business as a publishing-house-of-one, and it has different departments (the creative department, the production dept, the marketing dept, and the life dept) and all four of them have a strategy to support the revenue goal.


You may feel differently about setting goals, especially if income is not your goal. 


The reason my primary goal is monetary is because I need to pay my mortgage or I can't be a full-time author. Money gives me freedom and security to push forward with other projects that are important to me – like the cat sanctuary we want to open. I want to make money and have fun doing it and those two key goals will push my business at least for the next five years. 


Now that you’ve got your goal, it’s time to write it down. Put it somewhere you’ll always see it – I used the first page in my 2021 diary to make a big doodle of this goal. I also write it at the top of my file where I write my daily to-do lists. 



Think about all the things you identified in your look back that aren’t serving you. GET RID OF ‘EM. Now’s the time for a clear out. Drop projects and people and products and services and belief systems that drain your energy and hold you back.



Accept things will cross your path to tempt you from your goal or sabotage your progress. You can’t stop them – they will come whether you’re ready or not. (Hello, COVID-19).


Be prepared to cry and rage for a bit, but then get on with it and they won’t seem like problems any longer. Find coping mechanisms to get you through because burying your head in the sand is not a great business strategy.



Break down big goals into small steps that move you forward.


If you dream of interviewing 100 women for an illustrated book, first make a list of the women. That’s a micro goal.


Then contact 2 of them. Another micro goal. 1k words a day is a micro-goal, and you need these to get through the bigger goals, like finishing a book.


Completing these small goals will give you a sense of achievement and keep you going. 



You can’t do everything on your own! Ask for exactly what you need and nothing more – specific question or instructions will get you the best results.


I have a podcast episode all about asking for help.

    "Don’t acknowledge the dead weight. Instead, recall the people in your life who showed up when you needed them, who cheered you on, who believed in you.

    Steff Green

    Author of How to Rock Self-Publishing.



    Now you’ve got to do the thing. If you want that vision to be your reality, then you have to do the work. Holding the vision in your mind to get you through the grind, and learn to love the grind for making the rewards that much sweeter. 




    1. Write your quitting date in the calendar.

    2. Dedicate yourself to spending every spare moment to hit that goal.

    3. As much as possible, put any distractions on hold that aren’t loving your family like crazy. This is not the year to go on a big holiday, build a house (haha), or start another business.

    4. Choose ONE genre/project/pen name that you’re good at, and focus on that. You can branch out later.

    5. Look for ways to add steady income to replace your day job (can also provide savings while you’re still working your day job. Freelance is great for this. Just PUT THAT END DATE ON IT so you don’t burn out.

    6. Work your ass off.

    7. Something something.

    8. Profit.



    1. Write the stuff you’re good at, that your readers love, again and again and again.

    2. If you want to try something different (like my kids book) use your bread-and-butter pen name/genre to BUY yourself the time for that project.

    3. Listen to your people. I love to do little polls in my group and I have a lot of insight into who my readers are and that helps with making decisions.

    4. Listen to people who are smarter than you. The key word being LISTEN. I’m just about to scrap a cover I LOVE on one of my books because it’s not performing and authors I trust say it’s wrong for the genre. If it’s not getting me closer to my goal, it’s got to change or GTFO.

    5. The secret sauce is doing the work. That’s it. That’s the secret.

    6. Build the foundation first. When you have money coming in, consider outsourcing things you don’t enjoy doing or that suck energy away from the work you do enjoy.

    7. Focus on the things you have the power to control and change, which are actually most of the things. No, you don’t know how well a book will do, but there’s always the next book.

    8. Give yourself space to take risks. Some might fail, some might succeed, but you don’t get to a new place by doing the same thing all the time. But you need the space (in your schedule, as well as in your head) to see opportunities and do it. In the tech industry this is being agile, moving fast to be first to the market with something people didn’t know they needed.

    9. HAVE FUN. Or become an investment banker. That’s an easier way to the big bucks.


    That’s how I plan! Do you find this helpful? What are your big goals for 2020? What’s your vision? 


    For more information, listen to my podcast episode on strategy for 2021, and join the newsletter to be updated with new episodes and articles.


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