1. What is my biggest priority as a writer in 2018?
As writers, we tend to juggle a hundred different ideas and stories and goals—sometimes in the same week. But this year, I urge you to choose one big, hairy, audacious goal and plot out how you can achieve it.
Is your biggest goal to start the book? Finish it? Pitch it? Publish it? Once you know the goal, then choose a deadline. Without a deadline, you'll never finish it.
2. How many books do I want to release this year?
While some writers are struggling just to finish one book, other writers are pushing out book after book each year. I applaud you! I don’t know how you do it, but I am very jealous.
If this applies to you, then figure out how many books you’d like to release in 2018. Choose potential release dates, and have fun sprinting toward your goal.
3. How much time do I want to devote to writing each day or week?
You have to do what works for you when it comes to dedicated writing time, not what’s been proven to work for other writers.
How many times have you seen the “get up at 5:00 a.m. to start your day off with writing” mantra? I personally cannot do that, but you know what works for me? Writing at around 8:00 p.m. every night. Decide when you’re going to write and for how long—and stick to it. It's like a job: if you don't show up, don't expect the work to get done.
4. How much money do I need to save up for self-publishing my book?
If you would like to self-publish in 2018, then create a budget for your project. No, professional self-publishing is not cheap. Your two biggest expenses will be editing and design, so start getting quotes now from professionals so you can plan ahead.
If you’re not sure that self-publishing is within your budget, you could consider a GoFundMe or a Kickstarter.
5. How much time do I want to dedicate to pitching?
Perhaps you don’t want to self-publish at all. If you’d rather pitch to agents for traditional publishing, then decide how long you will pitch. Will you stay at it for three months? Six? A year? Make that commitment now.
6. What are my weaknesses as a writer? How can I strengthen them?
You can determine what your weaknesses are by any of the following:
- Getting a manuscript review.
- Sending your manuscript to beta readers.
- Receiving feedback from a critique group.
- Giving your manuscript to a friend who is an avid reader in your genre.
Once you know your weakness, work hard in 2018 to overcome them. Maybe you’re talented with dialogue, but your narrative could use some work. There are writing exercises you can do to help you with your weaknesses too.
7. What are my weaknesses as a marketer? How can I strengthen them?
The vast majority of writers tremble at the thought of marketing their work. And no matter how long I market books for my clients, I’m always surprised by this. Marketing is a lot of fun if you understand how to do it.
So ask yourself: What do I need to learn about marketing my writing? Make a list of what you need help with. Then, you could:
- Hire a marketer or get a coaching call with one.
- Read books and articles on marketing.
- Ask in authors’ groups how people market their books.
- Research books in your genre and find out how they have successfully marketed their books.
8. How can I get involved in my community as a writer?
I push online marketing a lot. And that’s because it works.
But I have learned this year that getting involved in your local community is just as important. To be honest, it isn’t necessarily because of marketing. It’s for your own sanity.
I know it’s tempting to stay indoors all the live-long day writing, but you’ve got to get out once in a while and surround yourself with like-minded people. I suggest:
- Attending or forming a local writers’ group that meets at least biweekly
- Attending or forming a local book club
- Attending local or regional conferences, writers’ retreats, or workshops
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites like The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.