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Set book marketing goals for 2015

You’ve heard that saying about how failing to plan is planning to fail, right?

Or about how if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know if you’ve arrived?

The point is: You need to set book marketing goals. And now’s the best time to do it.

I’m working on my goals today because I’m meeting with my goal buddy Marcia Layton Turner, founder of the Association of Ghostwriters, on Friday to review them. We’ve been doing this annually for years because we both understand the value and importance of goals to our business.

We make sure that our goals are “SMART” —

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Two-step process

We use a two-step process with our goal setting.

First, we review our goals from the previous year and evaluate why we did or didn’t reach them.

Second, we use what we learned from the evaluation process to plan for the coming year.

I find this review process particularly helpful because over time, it has helped me spot patterns that I’ve factored into the next year’s goals and action plan.

Goal-setting tools

We both use three primary tools with our goal-setting process:

  1. The Create Your Shining Year biz e-book business planner from Leonie Dawson.
  2. A Word document where we list our goals with bullet points.
  3. An Excel file where we track monthly goals and the tactics that will help us reach those goals.

Leonie Dawson biz plannerI start the process with Leonie’s $9.95 “biz” planner. Marcia and I started using it two years ago and it has completely transformed the process for me. (That’s why that link is an affiliate link — I like to support tools I use and love!) My planner documents each year have become a permanent record of the progress I have (and haven’t) made with everything from my social media accounts to the types of products I create. Her system has transformed the goal-setting process for me.

Once I’ve filled out the planner pages I use, I pull up a Word document so I can record my goals there. The biggest challenge for me as I list my goals is being realistic. I have lots of ideas about what I’d like to do and accomplish, but experience has shown me that I rarely accomplish as much as I’d like to. There just isn’t enough time in every day to do everything I’d like to do. Because I’ve learned from my experience, my goals each year have become more attainable — and as a result, I’ve been much more focused and less frustrated than in the past.

I start by listing what I’d like to accomplish along with what I need in place to accomplish it. My goals relate to income, the types of work I do, and overall quality of life. Others might approach goal-setting differently, but this works for me.

When I’m satisfied with the list, I open an Excel file and use one sheet to create monthly income projects that will lead to the amount I’d like to earn. On another sheet, I list milestones for other goals — it might be the number of Twitter followers I need or the conferences I attend. On a third sheet, I create a calendar with the tactics I’ll need to execute to reach that month’s goals as well as the goals in another month, since so much of what I need to do takes months and often years to accomplish.

Why bother?

With goals in place, I am much more focused. As a result, I accomplish more of the right things.

Book marketing goals will help you determine where you want to go with your book and how you will get there. For example, if your goal is to sell 10,000 paperback books in the next 12 months, you’ll skip the local book signing and focus on those activities that will help you reach a national and perhaps even global audience with your message.

If your goal is to use your book to become a national speaker within three years, you’ll set goals for the number of presentations you need to make in 2015 and outline what you’ll need to do to get them. And you’ll set goals for the kinds of media and other exposure you’ll need to help you get those speaking gigs.

Again, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Set goals this year so you know not only where you need to go, but how you’ll get there. You won’t regret it.

Do you set goals every year? What’s one of your goals for the coming year?  If not, why not?

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  1. Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for sharing your goal-setting process.

    I’ve always set written goals and agree with Leonie that there’s magic in writing and consulting them. But I’ve seen making lists work even when you don’t consult them regularly.

    I was first introduced to the power of goal setting decades ago when my husband insisted that I make a five-year plan. I had always made daily to-do lists, but not long-term lists. To get him off my back, I reluctantly wrote a list of goals on the last page of my spiral notebook. I didn’t consult that list anymore and the notebook got buried with the stack of old spiral notebooks.

    When I got inspired to declutter one day, I flipped through my stack of spiral notebooks to see if there was any reason to keep holding on to them. I was shocked to see that 5-year goals list now well past the deadline. I had accomplished everything on that list.

    I no longer resist making long-term goals, especially annual ones.

    After reading about your process, I’m going to get Leonie’s business planner and put my accountability partner on notice.

    My goal this year is to return to consistency with my writing, marketing and publishing. Like you, I need to focus more on the right things, set specifics, and track what I’m accomplishing or not accomplishing. Without tracking, it’s just too easy to fool myself into thinking busyness is productivity.

    1. I love that story, Flora. Thank you for sharing! Sometimes, as you saw, just doing the planning is enough — if you put enough mental effort into figuring out where you want to go, you’re more likely to head in the right direction than if you don’t.

      I hope you like Leonie’s planner. I’m hooked! May you reach all of your goals in the coming year.


    1. I’m so glad you liked it, Tangea. Happy holidays to you, as well. I hope it’s everything you want it to be.


  2. I’m one of those people who has a hard time making goals. I’m very resistant even though I know that I should. I think it stems from fear of failure. If I don’t set a goal, I can’t fail to meet it, right? But that’s not a good approach now that I have something really concrete in the works.

    I’m trying!

    1. Marijke, I think that’s common. I’m OK with failing because I have a lot of experience with it and know that it’s not as scary as it sounds! Knowing what my goals are helps me set priorities. Those, in turn, keep me from making decisions that will take me down the wrong path. I hope you can set just one goal for the coming year. Baby steps!


  3. Thank you Sandra for sharing your process, this was so helpful!! I love Leoni and her planner. I bought one last year, loved it , read it, but never filled it out! This year will be different thanks to you.

    Your post here tells me two things: I need an accountability partner, and spreadsheets;monthly income and milestones! Both are huge stumbling blocks for me as an independent-illustrator-writer-self publisher. You’ve helped me to clarify my weaknesses and what I need to do, thank you!

    1. Teresa, your feedback really resonated with me. I resisted setting monthly income goals for years. But … once I started creating them and asked my goal buddy to hold me accountable to them, I started reaching and even exceeding them. I plotted them out based on the usual business cycles (for example, Sept. has always been busier for me than Aug.), then had to take the extra step of figuring out what I was going to actually DO to earn that money each month. It has made a big difference for me!


    1. Peter, some might think that the packaging is feminine, but the questions in the planners (for example, “What were your business weak points?”) are gender neutral.

      I have no idea whether she’s got a sign up that says “No boys allowed!” I just know that I love the process in the planners.


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