It is nearly that time of year! Yes, it is nearly time to look back at the year past and see what you’ve accomplished. How much money did you earn? How much did you spend on marketing and other writing-related expenses? How many books sold? Did your marketing strategy work? Did you earn more in book sales than you spent marketing those books?

And most importantly, what will you do going forward into next year? What lessons did you learn that you can use to further your goals?

Oh, wait a minute? Did you make any goals last year?

I made goals, as I always do, but they were general goals, goals for my life as a whole. They weren’t business-specific goals. This year I am determined to do better.

The thing is, although we are creators, we are also business people. Writing is a business and we need to treat it as such. I know I’ve written about creating a business plan before, but this is something slightly different. This is an annual plan. These are the goals that you will strive for throughout the next year.

All goals need to be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

So, let’s look at how we can set our goals up for next year:

The need to be Specific: How many books are you going to write next year? Specifically, what marketing techniques are you going to use to sell those books? And how much money are you going to spend on both the publishing of your books and the marketing of them?

Our goals need to be Measurable: Well, most of the questions I asked in the paragraph above have answers that are numbers. That is certainly measurable. It’s even comparable: do I want to write more books than I did last year? Do I want to earn more money than I did last year? Want to spend less or more on marketing? These are all measurable goals.

Are these goals we’re planning Achievable? If we want to write more books next year than we did last year, how are we going to do that? What do we need to change in order to achieve this goal? Write faster? Get a better place to work? Kick the family out of the house for a certain number of hours a day? And if we want to earn more money, how are we going to do so? What marketing will you do next year that will be different from what you did this past year and can you afford to spend that money on marketing your books? Make sure you have achievable goals and know how you are going to work to achieve them.

Relevant goals are those that all work toward your overarching goal – write books, market them, sell them, earn money. If that’s not your goal, then what is? Is it to write books and have more people reading them? That’s fantastic! What are you going to do to achieve that goal? Whatever your goal is, make sure it is relevant to your larger goal whether that be earning money, getting readers, or just telling a story.

And finally, our goals need to be Time-bound. We are talking about the next year here, from January 2022 through December. Don’t try to make goals that you’ll start working on this December. Don’t make goals that you won’t be able to achieve until March of 2023. Keep your goals to within the calendar year.

So, as I’ve been thinking about these goals and doing business better, as I always do, I wrote them down and made pages for myself to stick into my disc notebook (like an Arc Notebook from Staples, the Circa Notebooks from Levenger, or the notebooks made by Atoma – they’re all basically the same thing, different brands). I love a disc notebook. They’re easy to create yourself, add pages, move them around, etc. I use one periodically for a journal and have used them as my daily calendar for years (although more recently I’ve switched to a Personal Planner, which I love too because they create the pages for me but I get to choose the layout of those pages). Since I use an A5 (basically 8.5 x 5.5 inch) notebook, I made my pages that size. If you’d like to use mine, you can download it from here (this is a fillable PDF, but feel free to edit it in Adobe Acrobat DC to personalize it).

The important thing is to create your SMART goals and follow them throughout the year. I think this will help you (and me) be better business people and maybe get those books done and those goals achieved. We’ll meet back here next year to see how we did!