We spend a lot of time in the minutiae of what we do, slaving over word choice, trying to hit a word count goal, counting individual sales.
But sometimes it's important to step back and evaluate the bigger picture. In today's article, Shannon from Duolit helps us do exactly this.
Few things in the career of an indie author are certain.
But I guarantee, at some point in your journey (probably more than once), you will come to a major crossroads. With each foot angled in a different direction, you will have to make a decision before you take your next step.
How will you decide where to go?
In the business world, corporations of all sizes look to their company mission statement as a guidepost for important decisions. When things get muddy, a good mission statement gives clarity to the company’s purpose. It’s like a cliff’s notes guide and a compass wrapped in one convenient package.
So why don’t you have one?
Authors are entrepreneurs in their own right, which means we should use the same set of tools any other business would use to move toward the company’s goals.
Putting together a mission statement doesn’t take a long time. All you have to do is answer a couple of quick questions, then take your answers and work them into a short paragraph.
Question 1: What do you do?
Don’t just say “I write” or “I am an author.”
NO! What do you DO? What is the BIG picture of what happens when you sit down and write?
Do you give life to some incredible characters? Are you the architect of another universe? Do you give a voice to the unheard? Use those creative juices to really describe (in a few words) what it is you do.
Question 2: Who do you do it for?
It’s time to talk about your readers. Who are they?
Don’t use those canned marketing terms like “20 – 30 year olds who like science fiction.” Give dimension to your readers, give them personalities and faces.
Say something like, “People who want to escape this world and explore another.”
Question 3: Why are you different?
What is your most unique attribute?
It might be your perspective, your experience, your technique or your characters. Something about your writing is different from every other person who’s ever put pen to paper. That one little attribute is what will connect you with your readers, so it’s critical.
Dig deep, find that special streak, and put it in writing.
Question 4: Where are you going?
What are your goals as an author?
Do you want to create one long-running series? Or is your primary objective to create quality artistic pieces? Or maybe your goal is to put write short stories?
Whatever your destination is, it needs to go in the mission statement. That way, when you reach the crossroads, you can eliminate any option that doesn’t lead to your ultimate goal.
Question 5: How are you going to get there?
You’ve got a plan in mind, right?
It can be a little general, but you should have an idea of how you’re going to reach your ultimate goal. Whether it’s eventually getting to traditional publishing, or being a resourceful, social media-savvy indie, you need to ask yourself what path or vehicle is going to get you where you want to go.
If you’re not sure about the specifics yet, focus on the skills you have that can help you reach your objective. Perseverance, self-discipline and hard work are all valuable tools in any indie tool box.
Bringing it all together
Once you’ve answered each of the above questions in a short sentence, you should be able to put all five together into one cohesive paragraph – your new mission statement.
Next time you’re unsure about which path to take in your indie author career, you’ll be able to look at your mission statement and find the compass to guide your steps.
If you’ve got a minute, I’d love to hear your mission statement (Or if you’ve got less than a minute, just one of your answers to the questions above!). Please do leave a comment below and join the conversation.
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Top image: Flickr Creative Commons F Delventhal