It's my favorite time of year! Time for goal-setting 🙂
Here are my creative and business goals for 2017. If you're a goal-setting junkie like me (or if you just want some accountability!), please do share yours in the comments below.
I've now split them into the various brands that make up my business as a whole. Hopefully that will also help you see which might apply to your situation!
These are not in order of importance, just numbered for ease of reference at the end of the year.
(1) TheCreativePenn.com and non-fiction as Joanna Penn
- Continue to serve the author community, focusing primarily on empowerment of creatives. There will be more articles, podcasts, videos and social media updates on writing, publishing, book marketing and creative entrepreneurship, and I will continue to share my own journey along the way.
- In episode 300 of The Creative Penn podcast, I committed publicly to get to episode 400, so that's another 2 years of the podcast 🙂 Thank you to everyone who supports the show on Patreon!
- I'm also intending to revamp and redesign this site as it has several thousand posts and pages now. As more and more creatives emerge and begin to write, I want this to continue to be one of the most useful (and honest and transparent) places on the internet for writers who want to take control of their author career. This is a pretty big piece of work, so it will take a while 🙂
- For non-fiction in 2017, I want to put out the 3rd edition of How to Market a Book, plus audiobook editions of The Successful Author Mindset and How to Make a Living with your Writing on Audible (but non-exclusive because there are likely to be new audio options in 2017). I'll be working with a professional narrator for my non-fiction. After a debilitating cough at the end of 2016, I've made the decision to focus more on my strengths and leave narration to the professionals, rather than trying to do everything myself. I'm working on a new book in the mindset/psychology of writing arena, to be announced once it is more fully-formed (Q2). Plus, I will be collaborating with an author friend for a book/course on creativity (Q3/4).
- Do a limited number of speaking events. I love speaking but it is very tiring for me and this will be a big creation year, so I need to focus. Having said that, I'll be speaking in Australia and New Zealand in February, London in May and November, Scotland in September, as well as the US in October. All the links will be posted on my speaking page here as they are announced.
(2) Build my new small independent press and publish some gorgeous print products
I'll be writing more about the journey from indie author to small press in the coming months. Yes, this is another brand (name to be revealed soon), but an important part of the growing business 🙂
- Launch new website for the small press aimed at book-buyers and rights buyers worldwide. Become involved with the world of independent publishers & small press.
- Move to Ingram Spark for extended distribution of my back list print books (while still using Createspace for Amazon Print-On-Demand sales). I've already done a lot of work with this over the holiday period but this will be my first full year attempting to get to grips with the physical distribution side of things in a more sustained manner.
Publish the first 3 books in a sweet romance series under a new author brand. I'm the Commissioning Editor and Publisher of these books, but not the writer, although I am playing a big part in the development process based on everything I've learned over the years. (Just to be clear: The press is NOT open to submissions right now. This is a very special case!)
- Publish a hardback premium creative journal in time for Thanksgiving 2017. When I think about print products, I get most excited about journals, so this will be the first big project I do as a print-only product. I'd love your thoughts on this – click here to complete my survey on what your ideal journal would look like.
- Get to grips with intellectual property and license some subsidiary rights. Indie authors have pretty much got the basics under control now. We know how to do ebooks, print-on-demand and to some extent, audiobooks. What we are not doing well is going beyond the basics to full exploitation of intellectual property rights. I'm going much deeper on this in 2017 and will share along the way, as ever. My husband, Jonathan, is taking the lead on this and I hope to welcome him onto the blog at some point this year (if I can persuade him to emerge from behind the internet curtain!) I will be doing more blog posts on this – click here for articles on Intellectual Property Rights.
(3) My shadow side: Fiction as J.F.Penn
I'm super excited about my plans for J.F.Penn in 2017:
- End of Days, ARKANE #9 releases Jan 31, 2017. Ebook, print and audiobook.
- ARKANE boxset books 7-9 in ebook and audiobook, plus the other ARKANE boxsets in audiobook format
- Collaborative dark fantasy novel – to be announced in quarter 1
- First novel in spin-off thriller series based in New Orleans, where I'll be visiting in March
- Develop new trilogy/series based on a whole new world. I have a ton of ideas on this but I'm not ready to share them yet. As a clue, check out my Pinterest Board on Maps 🙂
- I'm currently working with a screenwriter on a treatment and a pilot for the London Psychic books, so the goal will be to sell that to a TV studio.
- Launch new genre specific website, SupernaturalThrillers.com. For years I've been moaning that my fiction falls between the gaps of thriller/action adventure/horror/dark fantasy/crime etc. So now I've decided to leverage this gap instead and build a destination website for READERS of the types of books I read and love … and yes, it will also feature my books. It's hard to do this from an author site as it feels far more like self-promotion, so I'll be launching this new site in Q1. Exciting!
Mental and physical health
I've been sick too much in 2016 and that has been a combination of working too hard and then traveling, without planning enough downtime between trips and speaking engagements. I love what I do so much that I tend to work wayyyyy too hard.
I want more head space to create in 2017 and I need more downtime to recuperate. I also want to read more. So I am scheduling more time ‘off' in 2017, more space in my schedule and also a more structured physical exercise schedule. There are too many stories of author burnout, and I don't intend to be one of them 🙂
I don't believe in the poor author in the garret myth 🙂 Never have done.
In fact, more than ever, I believe it is the best time in history to be an empowered creative with a global focus. This year I will be expanding the various business streams and once again, I'm aiming to double my income. Of course, money is just one measure of success but I want to continue to prove that this path is a viable life choice and I've always been ambitious.
In order to do this, I will focus on the same aspects that have worked in the last year:
- Creating more products and exploiting intellectual property rights – books in various formats, foreign rights sales and other rights exploitation, plus expanding distribution to more retailers and countries
- Building my email list for both The Creative Penn and J.F.Penn as the size of the audience directly impacts my income through the various books, products and services I offer
- Using paid advertising to drive traffic to both products and email list signup. This has made a difference in 2016, so I will continue to use it in 2017.
- PLUS/ I'll be doubling down on content marketing, with more guest posts on The Creative Penn, plus the new genre site for fiction. I'll also be using a more advanced SEO strategy to attract people to specific content, and implementing an exit-pop-up to capture more emails and also to direct people to affiliate products.
Clearly, I have a massive year ahead – but please remember, I do this full-time as my living, my income, my passion, my job and my hobby. I love, love, love everything that I do 🙂
You will likely have a whole load of other goals for 2017 and I would love to hear about them below in the comments. You can also use this as a form of accountability and we can look back together at the end of 2017. Your goal may be to finish the first draft of your first book, as it was for me back in 2006/2007, or perhaps selling your first 1000 books. It doesn't matter what level you're at, as we are all traveling our own paths.
Good luck with all of your plans, Joanna! I’m planning on writing three books (at least), growing my email list, getting better at marketing (a perpetual goal because that never happens!), and blogging less but writing about topics that will be more interesting to my readers (I just need to figure out what they are! Lol!)
Kristina Svensson says
Fantastic to read this post and the one where you talked about how you achieved last year. Keep up the great work! I
Joanna Penn says
Hi Kristina, It’s been a while! I hope all’s good with you in Sweden and Happy 2017!
Kristina Svensson says
Thanks Joanna! I am still working on my hybrid-career. A couple of traditional books, a couple of indie books. I’ve had a rather quite year and plan another one next year. Happy 2017!
Håkan Högberg says
I don’t know the correct phrase in English but in Swedish we have a expression ” god fortsättning” directly translated it vill be ”
good continuation”. I must say that I was both impressed by, inspired of, and a little bit stressed out of your goals. I really hope that you have private goals about your marriage and family . If you don’t, I’m worried about you burning out yourself. We are a lot of people around the world that love Johanna Penn’s work, so I hope that your husband can slow you down if needed. All the best and I wish you a happy and inspiring 2017.
Joanna Penn says
Oh yes, don’t worry about that 🙂 Our marriage is always number 1, and these are just my creative and business goals. Remember, this is my full-time job, my hobby, my passion and my business. Plus, Jonathan is also working in the business now too 🙂
Gary Swaby says
Interested to know what the advanced SEO strategy is.
I will be featuring one of your books in my book club fir January soon 😀
Joanna Penn says
I’m looking at premium plugins for SEO and also things like https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/podcasts/how-to-do-a-content-audit-with-todd-tresidder/
Joanna Penn says
and thanks for featuring my book at your book club 🙂 I really appreciate it!
Malinda Martin says
Wow! I would love to know how you’ll go about accomplishing all these goals-daily schedule, time management, etc. I tend to come up with great goals but then am so excited with all of them that I have trouble focusing on one.
Dean Kutzler says
Loved the webinar! As always, thank you for sharing & caring! 😀
Lucy Branch says
Well done, Joanna. Great goals that I hope to support you in accomplishing through reading more of your great books, much good will and Patreon) My big rocks are to develop an online side of my restoration business through a blog, podcast, speaking and journalism (My blog will be called Destination Restoration – there I’m putting it out there). My other rock is to write my 3rd fiction novel – I may not manage publication by end of 2017, but I want to be well on the way. Final rock – Mindset. I want to develop a slow/mindful mindset even when my life is running super-fast.
Joanna Penn says
Those are great goals and I really appreciate your support for my creative work 🙂
April Munday says
Thank you for sharing your goals. They make mine look a bit feeble, but I’ve long since realised that you’re Wonder Woman. I’m looking forward to the journal and will go and answer the questionnaire, as I love notebooks.
I have two goals. One is to reach a specific financial goal with my books. It’s a goal I should have achieved long ago, but this year I have a plan (or at least the beginnings of one). My second goal is to publish five books and a lead magnet, and to write another novel. Two are more or less complete and the rest are well past the first draft stage.
Joanna Penn says
Remember I do this full-time and I am a goal-setting junkie 🙂 Thanks for sharing your goals – they are actually pretty hardcore as well!
Trish Heinrich says
First of all. Happy New Year! Your site, podcasts and books have been key for me this past year as I move toward my dream of being an Indie Author. Thank you so much for all you do for us creatives.
My “Big Rock” goal for this year is to publish my first novel in October and have the sequel ready for a January 2018 release. I’m also launching my author website in February and focusing on building my email list. And I’m writing a short story for an anthology. To say I’m excited and terrified is an understatement!
Joanna Penn says
Awesome 🙂 Excited and terrified is a good way to be!
Laura Haley-McNeil says
Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. I agree with the others that you are amazing. I discovered your podcasts last May. The advice and wisdom you’ve shared have been helpful. That you care so much about others succeeding is heartwarming. I usually don’t read past the 1st paragraph in most posts let alone read the comments, but for this post I read everything. I’ve been struggling for years trying to make a viable business out of my writing. I’m focusing this year to move past the day job income level so I can focus all my time on my writing. I love to write but never seriously thought about it as my main income source. You’ve given me the courage to want that. I hope that this time next year I’ll be writing a comment on your 1/1/18 post that I have achieved that level. I’m fortunate to have a husband who believes in me. <3 Thanks for all you do, Joanna!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Laura – “You’ve given me the courage to want that”
I’m so pleased because I think there’s nothing wrong with being an ambitious creative 🙂 We can show the world that you don’t need to work as a cubicle slave for someone else to make a good living. I’m thrilled you have a supportive husband too, that has made the world of difference to me. Wishing you the best for 2017.
Here are 2017 goals:
1) Write and Publish my third Kammbian novel, Diversion From Destiny, in the fall of 2017. I will starting research for it in the next week to 10 days and scribbling ideas down for the first draft. Write, Publish, Repeat is the goal.
2) To become a better storyteller and learn the craft of writing better stories. I believe in the philosophy of stories over sentences (I do like a beautiful sentence though) and that characters and plot both matter. It’s my job as a storyteller to keep working those aspects of storytelling.
3) Continue to learn about the business of indie publishing without becoming overwhelmed by every new suggestion or idea said on a podcast. Some people can do well with a scattershot approach to writing and publishing….I know I can not. I will focus one or two essential aspects (for example…growing your mailing list) and building a foundation from there.
4) Knowing why you write and publish your books more than what for. Leaning on that why (or whys) as you go through the ups and downs of your writing career. You can become easily discouraged if your colorful spiritual fantasy series doesn’t take off into indie bestsellerdom unlike the ten space opera novels or trillionaire playboy romance novels that dominate the charts. Your why will be something you need to hold on and have faith in and not let envy or frustration creep in because you are not where you had imagined yourself to be at with your writing career.
5) I will not get involved with self/indie vs traditional publishing debates anymore. While, I’m definitely pro indie publishing and writer empowerment, I have decided those debates are fruitless and ultimately a distraction. We have more than ever in the history of publishing a direct connection to readers. My goal is to write my novels and connect to those readers who like my work. I’m not going to be defensive or always having to prove why my writing should be taken seriously just because I’m not with a Big 5 publisher. Life is too darn short to be giving my energy away to people who don’t care about my work and don’t want me in their club anyway no matter how good my novels are. Moving forward with the readers who like my books.
6) Here’s my last resolution and probably the most controversial of them all. I disagree that the writing to market philosophy should be the only way as a successful indie writer/publisher. It is one way and for those of you who are following the Foxian philosophy or gospel on that…good for you and I hope it works for you. However, I believe that as an indie writer/publisher there should be many paths to a successful indie writing career and we have to ability to pursue those paths even if you have to go through some tough sledding to get on the right path for your career. I will sum my writing career philosophy from conversation that Jewel had with Neil Young when she first started singing and she revealed in a recent interview:
I said these words: “So when you were talking to Neil Young…”
What funny words to say to someone, I thought at the time and told her.
Neil Young told her: don’t ever write for radio!
Meaning: don’t write for the masses, write for yourself.
I asked her, “Isn’t there a tension there? Like what if you write for yourself and then nobody likes it? Don’t you want to write something that people like?”
She said, “We all have common experiences. Ultimately when you write for yourself, you tap into that common cultural experience we all share.”
That was eye-opening to me.
If you put in the time to develop the skills, eventually you will burrow so deep inside yourself with your art that you will tap into that same vein of blood that runs through each of us.
The key to good art is figuring out who you are.
Writing for yourself, then, becomes the best way to write something that can be enjoyed by everyone. (Jewel)
I know that many of you won’t agree with that philosophical outlook to creating art. But I do. It speaks to me on a deep and even spiritual level and I have to pursue this path if I’m going to have any commercial success as a writer. Well, those are my resolutions and I hope all you get to fulfill your resolutions in 2017!
Joanna Penn says
Great stuff, Marion!
” I will not get involved with self/indie vs traditional publishing debates anymore” – I got out of that a while back too, it is such a waste of time 🙂 I think we just need to focus on living our best example of a professional creative indie life and demonstrate quality in our work.
” I disagree that the writing to market philosophy should be the only way as a successful indie writer/publisher”
I agree with you and I don’t write to market either. In fact I had a comment this week that if I wrote mainstream thriller and crime, as opposed to supernatural, I would be much more successful as a fiction writer. That may be true, but I don’t read those books so why would I write them 🙂 I’m happy writing what my Muse loves! Happy creating 🙂
Thanks Joanna. If you a wrote a mainstream thriller, it would not be the same as your supernatural action thrillers. Glad that you are writing what you love to write. 🙂
Yvonne Carder says
Thank you for being such an inspiration. I’ve just newly discovered all that you have to offer and am indulging at the moment. =) My writing/author world has been blown wide open and I’m working on making heads and tales of everything. Thank you for all of your advice and knowledge.
My goals for 2017 are still on the ‘smaller’ scale, but seem huge for me. Here’s my list I put out into the universe on my blog and now here.
1. Complete the revisions necessary for my first novel to be published by August 1, 2017.
a. Complete the first revision for continuity by March 1, 2017
b. Consider a literary editor and if using one do so by April 1, 2017
c. Complete literary editor revision and give to beta readers by May 1, 2017 and have those notes back by June 1, 2017
2. Complete beta reader revisions and give final draft to proof-reader by July 1, 2017
3. Decide on whether to be an Indy publisher or go the more traditional route by July 2017.
4. Complete my second novel’s rough draft by December 12, 2017
5. Stick to my weekly blog post schedule.
6. Reach 50 Facebook page likes by August 2017, then reach 100 by the end of 2017.
7. Make sure my speaking presentations for my day job deliver the info needed and be successful with that.
8. And in the midst of this, successfully navigate the classes I’ll be taking and maintain my GPA.
Lofty goals, but as my favorite quote says: ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’ Here’s to a successful 2017!
Joanna Penn says
Fantastic 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Awesome goals Joanna. You really are an inspiration and it shows that your hard work pays off. I look forward to reading about your progress throughout the year and listening to your future podcasts.
Lately, I’ve been wondering whether I’ve deluded myself into believing that I’m actually working hard on creating a writing business. I realised recently that I wasted far too much time pretending to work on my writing in 2016.
I’m hoping 2017 will be more fruitful and instead of working harder, I’ll work smarter. With a full time job and a toddler at home, it’s vital that I use my time wisely. So, in 2017 a few of my plans are:
1) Publish three fiction books (write on my 2.5 hour commute to and from work)
2) Write and publish a non-fiction book
3) Create and follow a marketing plan (using your “How To Market A Book” for inspiration)
4) Become a better writer and self-editor
5) Train and complete a 70.3 Ironman (to stay fit and healthy)
6) Aim for at least 10 minutes of yoga practice every day (good for posture, flexibility and breathing)
Wishing you all the very best for 2017!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Kasia, I love this: “far too much time pretending to work on my writing”
I think this ends up being true for a lot of people as so many things distract us from the ‘real work’ of actually putting words on the page. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else and like you, I will not be doing that in 2017! Happy creating 🙂
Kasia! I feel like we are living the same life! I’m also working, and going to school, and have a rambunctious little toddler at home. And I’m a single mom, to boot!
Getting my author business off the ground has not been without its challenges, and sometimes, I feel the temptation to just give up. But somehow, I can’t. They say writers write because they have to; I’m sure this is true and is what keeps me going, because I just love it too much. But I know if we keep chugging away at it, good things will happen and the work will accumulate (in a good way). I can feel it! So hang in there. 🙂 Best of luck in 2017!
Colby! Yes, I completely get the giving up part but being unable to. I tried not to write once and it just didn’t work so I figured it’s better just to keep going!
Wishing you all the best for 2017!
Can’t wait to see all the exciting things you have planned for 2017. Good luck with all your new projects
David Penny says
🙂 I remember attending one of your courses back in, I think 2014, but it may have been earlier, and you got us to write down out goals for the next 12 months. My main one was to earn £10K in a year. I didn’t make it then, but I have made it now. So thanks, even if it did take me longer than intended. And so, my goals for 2017:
1. Do more on Social Media, particularly Twitter to see if it makes a difference.
2. Continue using FB Ads, refining targets and try other books in the series
3. Look to double income on Book sales (currently £17.5K for 2016) to £35K.
4. Publish Book 4 in series in February.
5. Write Book 5 in series and publish in September
6. Plot out Books 6 & 7, which must be published within a month of each other due to cataclysm at end of Book 6. Target date to be Sept 2018 for publication.
7. Write a lead magnet as a prequel to the series and publish by April
8. Spend at least an hour a day on looking after myself, cycling, pilates etc.
9. Read and review more books.
10. Continue with the rewrites of my old science-fiction novels to make them readable and provide an additional sales channel.
Joanna Penn says
That’s awesome, David!!! I’m so thrilled 🙂 I think things always take a little longer than we would like, but it’s amazing when we make it anyway. I think you’ll definitely double your book sales income if you keep writing and producing the quality you do and using paid ads to keep them moving. I also think you need to get into box-sets, as that makes up quite a bit of my own fiction income now.
Sukhi Jutla says
These are great ambitious goals Joanna and no doubt you will exceed them with your work ethic and right mindset- best of luck with it all. I can’t wait to see what you create this year. I also love the way you have identified a pain point (no super natural thrillers genre…and so created it yourself!
My biggest goals this year are:
1. To self-publish my first non-fiction book (Strech goal: to have 3 books in the series/ topic)
2. To write my first novel and publish it (stretch goal)
3. To continue blogging on a consistent process & building my author platform & email list
4. Learn new skills instead of resisting it! (marketing, Social e=mdia, tech stuff on blog, dictation)
5. Earn an income from wriitng (books, coaching, speaking)
6. Maintain my daily morning routine (meditate, exercise, journal, write)
7. Remember not to take it too seriously- have fun along the way since I’m in this for the long-term (schedule guilt-free downtime)!
I have gone into these goals in more detail on my blog here. I’m excited to check back in one year to see how I have done!
C.Steven Manley says
I feel your frustration on the supernatural thriller thing. My first outing as an Indie, I tried to create my own genre- superhuman thriller -and quickly discovered there was nowhere to place it. Aw, well. Live, learn, and keep moving forward, right?
Below are my goals for the year. Thanks for always being such a source of information and inspiration. Happy New Year!
1) Master Mailchimp/Email List management
2) Finish List Cookie Short Story Collection.
3) Finish/Publish Space Opera Trilogy
4) Write First book of next project (either more Space Opera or a jump to fantasy, not sure which yet)
5) Start a… something. Podcast, video series, something to connect with people better. I’m a grumpy old writing dragon that doesn’t like to leave his cave. I Need to work on that.
Joanna Penn says
Superhuman thriller sounds like it might fit into the Superhero genre, which is pretty hot right now? It does have some very clear tropes though. Space opera sounds like a clear genre for you to focus on next 🙂
There are plenty of grumpy old writing dragons out there online – just be yourself and you will attract people who enjoy a curmudgeonly perspective 🙂
I’m so excited for this year, I’ve had to almost sit on myself so I can sit down and make some plans rather than rushing ahead! I have my first children’s chapter book completely finished and am just waiting on the illustrations (which my son who is an artist is doing – very cool!) and while I wait, I plan to write 2 more as this will be series of younger chapter books. I also am working on researching/plotting a series that will be for older chapter book/early middle school readers which I’m super excited about too. My goal is to write 4 to 6 books this year. I don’t think I’ll get them ALL published but at least mostly completed. I’ll also be developing my author platform – designing a website, building an email list and developing a newsletter for that list. One of my medium rocks is learning more about marketing and the business side of writing. I have a few courses I’ve bought that I plan to go through and am already scheduling those out! I played around last year and self-published 3 non-fiction children’s books and 1 self-published journal in the Christian living niche. I plan on doing a few more of those types of journals, as well – different part of my brain! 🙂 I felt last year was sort of a training year for things, but now I’m ready to take off the training wheels and go full speed ahead! 😉
Joanna Penn says
Fantastic, Rosanne! I know about trying to stop and plan more instead of rushing in and doing. I know I actually achieve more if I stop to think before acting, but I often jump in with excitement anyway!
I absolutely LIVE for your end-of-year posts! They are so inspirational. You literally launched my path as an author and helped me get up the courage to strike out on my own. I also LOVE your massive goals, especially because mine are also crazy big (except I’m not full-time yet like you). Wishing you nothing but the best for this year!
My creative goals for 2017:
1. Create a daily word count habit of 500 words per day for my fiction.
2. Increase daily word count by 500 words each quarter until I am consistently writing 2000 words per day as of Q4.
3. Publish 5 novels.
4. Expand reader and author community.
5. Dive deeply in Worldbuilding for four separate series I wish to finish in the next 2 years.
6. Write, direct, and release first full length horror film.
7. Write, direct, and release SECOND full length horror film.
8. Finish upgrading author brand and website, including creating an on-site VIP section for my reader community.
That’s just for my fiction. I am also building a non-fiction brand, but that’s a slower burn. Still love it, though.
Happy New Year!
Joanna Penn says
OK, those are even more nutty than mine 🙂 Write, direct and release 2 films as well as publish 5 books. Wow! I wish you great things for 2017, Colby!