OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
I'm a goal-setting junkie and I love considering the year ahead! Look at the open road stretching before us … all those blank pages waiting to be filled … super exciting!
What we also know is that the self-publishing industry will continue to change.
We will have new opportunities in 2016, new markets will emerge and older ones will shift and doors will close. Very little will stay exactly the same.
That's exciting to me as indie authors are able to be nimble and jump on opportunities as they arise. We can adapt as the year moves on.
So do not fear, my creative friends, we shall tackle 2016 together 🙂 As I head into year 8 of this site, I can certainly say that I'm in it for the long haul!
But as ever, I like to have some goals for the year. I just reviewed my 2015 achievements, so now it's time to set them for 2016.
(1) Become a healthy author
I'm a workaholic because I love what I do. It's my passion as well as my job, my income as well as my hobby.
If I won the mega-lottery, I would still write.
I love JK Rowling for her example as a writer, because after the success of Harry Potter, she could have just hung out in her castle eating chocolate for the rest of her days … but she started writing mysteries as Robert Galbraith and I love her Cormoran Strike series.
But I'll admit to focusing on writing books and building a business over my health for the last few years, and if I'm going to be an author for the long term (which I am), then I need to make my physical body a priority this year, instead of just my brain. After all, they are actually connected 🙂
- Since I'm a goal-based person, I decided to set myself a specific task. So my goal is to complete the Race to the Stones in July 2016, which is 100km over 2 days. I'll be walking it, rather than running it, but it's still an ultra-marathon! It's booked, so that IS happening …
- In order to achieve that goal, I need to get fitter so I have a walking training program and I've seen a dietitian. It's way too easy for the coffee to become lattes, and then to add a biscuit to that … every hour! After all, I deserve it as I'm working really hard at writing! Like many of you I'm sure, I've tried a ton of different diets but over the last few weeks, I've discovered that the 5:2 diet works best for me. It's easier (for me) not to eat at all than try moderation, plus there are a ton of other benefits to intermittent fasting, so it's less a diet than a lifestyle change. If you're interested, check out The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer.
- I have a walking training plan that increases hours walking over the next six months. We've started already and I'm wearing in the new shoes … I've already transitioned to a vari-desk that goes up and down and I'm aiming to use that when I'm in the office. I also use a swiss ball instead of a chair and that got rid of my back pain, but I do need to use it to stretch more.
- I will (finally) master dictation so I can lessen my RSI pain (in my right arm) which continues to flare up. Thanks for everyone's suggestions on this but I need something more fundamental. My aim is to be able to dictate as I hike, in the same way that Kevin J Anderson does. Imagine being a super fit author! That's what I want to be. I interviewed Monica Leonelle about dictation last November which got me restarted on the process, and I am finding The Productive Author's Guide to Dictation by Cindy Grigg really good for the next steps. I've failed at this several times before so I am now making it an official goal so you guys keep me accountable.
(2) Create more, become a better writer and give J.F.Penn more time
As much as I'd love to say I have a detailed production plan for 2016, I can only see about six months ahead right now. I'm also mostly a pantser and am inspired by my environment so much.
So I have lots of ideas … the question is which ones will emerge! My creation plans for this year are nebulous but at this point, I want to release 6 books and that will include:
- ARKANE #8 – Destroyer of Worlds (full-length novel) Has a pre-order of 31 March 2016 so is definitely the first to come
- Non-fiction – Psychology of writing book which has been percolating for so long
- ARKANE #9 – I have a ton of ideas for this but nothing concrete as yet
- Edinburgh book – to be titled and may end up as a trilogy, I have an idea for the character and it might be a spin off from ARKANE or stand-alone
- Plus, I'll write an adaptation of One Day in Budapest as a screenplay. I'm booked on a course for this for February. With the political situation in Eastern Europe heading far right, it's a good time for this book.
My main focus will be to switch the majority of my effort from non-fiction into fiction. Apart from the psychology book, I've shared everything I know in my books for authors now and I really want to give my dark side, J.F.Penn, some more room to expand.
To enable this, I am blocking out 3 days a week and won't have meetings/interviews etc on those days. They will be pristine fiction days 🙂 The other days will have the morning allocated to writing as usual, but too often, that has been squeezed in 2015 so I need to schedule complete days in my diary.
This will also mean more focus on developing my writing craft.
I want to become a better writer – which of course, is hard to measure 🙂 So I'll continue to read, write and take online classes, plus attend some craft conferences. I have so much to learn and it's both a challenge and a joy to do so. After all, as writers, we can keep learning until the day we die 🙂
Plus, I want to explore sales of foreign rights and not self-publish any more in translation, so I'll be joining in the Alliance of Independent Authors campaign Going Global and will share more of what happens there in the coming months.
(3) Travel more and speak internationally
Traveling is critical for my creative process. I like routine in order to write but I get my ideas from places and culture and weird things I see or experience. It's great to combine speaking with travel as it covers some of the costs 🙂
- I'll be at the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, Texas in March (run by Johnny, Sean & Dave – the Self Publishing Podcast guys) and I'm combining that with a research trip to New Orleans, where I have been meaning to go for a very long time … expect some occult writing from that!
- I'm also speaking at the Digital Commerce Summit, Oct 13-14 2016 in Denver, Colorado so there will likely be some travel around that. We're also looking at Japan, Jordan and other options …
There will definitely be travel, that's for sure 🙂
(4) Provide a ‘career path' for authors on The Creative Penn
It's tough being an indie author. You have to learn so many new skills around writing, publishing, marketing and running a small business if you want to do this full-time.
This site now has over seven years worth of articles, videos and audio podcast episodes on all aspects of being an author of fiction and non-fiction and everything that entails, but it's still difficult to navigate. Most of the content is still free but I have books and premium courses as well.
I've tried to organize the site into the major chunks but I want to re-structure it in 2016 to be more career path focused, to help you navigate the process wherever you are in the journey.
So in 2016, I intend to:
- Redesign TheCreativePenn.com to make it easier to navigate for free content as well as books and courses
- Continue with The Creative Penn podcast weekly. Click here for the backlist of over 240 episodes.
- Write articles and make videos to fill the gaps in the ‘career path' and create more effective landing pages for sub-topics
- Potentially add some more courses. I have Self-Publishing Success for those who want to start self-publishing and Creative Freedom for those who want to make a living with their writing, but I might also do a couple on writing fiction and non-fiction.
I'm ambitious – always have been 🙂 and I happily continue to combine art and commerce on this site. I want to prove that you can be a creative and an entrepreneur, and that you don't need a “proper job” to make a good living and a happy life in 2016!
Money is a measure of that ambition as it's more easily counted than sales figures, number of reviews or happy customer emails – much as I enjoy all those. Thank you all for buying my books and products, and for your lovely emails and tweets 🙂
If I don't write goals down, I don't even come close to achieving them. So I'm writing this down: my goal is to double my income in 2016. In order to do this, I will focus on a couple of big areas:
- Create more products – mainly books in various formats, foreign rights sales and other rights exploitation, plus expanding distribution to more retailers and countries
- Build my email list for both The Creative Penn and J.F.Penn as the size of the audience directly impacts income
- Use paid advertising to drive traffic to both products and email list signup. I heavily rely on content marketing right now, but I need to push my comfort zone a little 🙂
When it comes down to it, these are the most important aspects of businesses in general: create products people want, distribute, sell and market them. It's simple … but as we all know, it's not easy. Let's just keep taking a step every day and we'll get there.
OK, now it's your turn!
What are your creative, writing and entrepreneurial goals for 2016? Please leave them below and you'll be able to revisit them in December!