It’s taken me a little while to write this post. I promised I would write an update on the goals I set at the beginning of 2021 – although, to be honest, I almost didn’t. It wasn’t a great year, by any means, for so many different reasons (pandemic included). I’d set lofty goals and they were always going to be tough to achieve, but they gave me something to aim for. When you read what they were, below, you’ll see what I mean – and I’ll state up front that I definitely didn’t get anywhere near achieving them.
It’s taken me quite a while to mull this over and decide what kinds of goals I want to set myself in 2022. This year, I’ve decided to be a bit kinder to myself, try to stay more focused, and to set realistic, achievable goals. I also have two ‘watchwords’ for the year: creation, and growth. My overarching goal is to develop more of everything in my author business, from books in my back catalogue, to formats for my work, to sales, readers, and reading and writing connections (some of whom might become friends – I love it when that happens!).
So. Let me start with 2021, and report back (as promised) on what I did – and didn’t get done:
Last year, I’d decided to focus on writing three types of work: dark, gothic-style crime; historical crime; and cozy mystery.
Well, the first thing to say is, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’! Cozy mystery stands out like a sore thumb against the other two. In the end, I opted to focus more on the first of the three, in that I began writing my upcoming Darker Minds Crime and Suspense series. It heads very much down the dark route, blurring the lines between right and wrong, good and bad. The perpetrator of the crime(s) gets their come-uppance but it might not be in the conventional way.
I stated that I was going to create the following:
- Tick, Tick, Tick (Gothic crime set in Victorian times)
- Books 1, 2 and 3 in Gothic crime/mystery series, title yet undecided
- Book 1 of a historical crime trilogy – I think)
- Books 1, 2 and 3 in Victorian mystery series
- Short story/novella crime collection
- Also in planning – 3 books in new mystery series, time period yet undecided, although likely 1920s/30s
- 6 new colouring books, 4 in an adult range, 2 in a cute range.
It was ridiculously ambitious, and I achieved almost none of it. I made some headway on the Tick, Tick, Tick story, which has since become part of another book altogether. The rest I abandoned – except that I didn’t. Quite.
2021 brought many of its own problems, as we all know, but it also led me to re-think and re-evaluate what I felt I was good at, and where my natural writing interest lay, at that time. Books 1-3 of the Gothic crime/mystery series I mentioned has become the first three books in the Darker Minds series, at least of sorts. The other books are all still simmering on the back burner, for me to think about. I also decided that, at least for now, colouring books aren’t on my radar. writing stories is my first love, and this is what I’m taking into 2022.
My publishing goals were, as you would expect, linked directly to the writing goals. If one didn’t happen, then neither would the other. They were:
- Publish the paperback of Baby up the Chimney and The Reason for everything on stores other than Amazon
- Publish six new books: Tick, Tick, Tick, book 1 of a crime trilogy, two books in a Gothic crime series, the first book in a Victorian crime series, and a short story crime collection.
For obvious reasons, this didn’t happen. Not even publishing paperbacks on stores other than Amazon. There were very good reasons for the latter. I decided that writing women’s fiction which branched into literary fiction was not going to help me in my business – not for me, despite loving these two books so much at a personal level.
My goals for content other than writing and publishing were:
- Email my Readers’ Club every couple of weeks
- Release a blog post every week
- Write a weekly blog post on a new website for mystery fiction
- Start a podcast linked to the new website
I decided to double down on the books I had started writing, not begin something else new, so the extra website went by the wayside, as did the podcast. I definitely wrote more blog posts in 2021 than I’d written on my website previously, and I targeted them around other things I was doing – for example, changing my free gift to my Readers’ Club. Talking of… the most important thing on my ‘content’ list was keeping in contact with my Readers’ Club. Readers are the people I am truly grateful for, and it’s important that I give those who want to hear even more from me as much extra value as I can. This will only get better in 2022.
It’s pretty clear that I set the wrong goals for myself in 2021. There were many things I hadn’t done right for myself, my writing and my business. All of that, together with a pretty dreadful year on a personal level, led to me making the wrong decision to start with, then following it up with indecision, changing my mind about, not just one course of action, but most of it, and ultimately resulted in me not writing anywhere near as much as I’d hoped.
I’ve learned from that. I’m approaching this new year with a very different mindset, one that is more realistic while still wanting to drive my creativity, and my career as an author, forward.
And so… to my 2022 goals!
After last year’s over-ambitious goal-setting, I contemplated being much more fluid about my goals for this year. I also know of old, though, that if I don’t give myself hard (and immovable) deadlines, then procrastination has historically crept in and I’ve not got anywhere near as much done as I’d wanted to by the end of the year. So I’m going to have to give myself some rigid goals which are ‘must do’s, and add into the mix some more fluid ones.
I’m splitting my goals for 2022 into ‘creation’, ‘growth’ and ‘business’. My over-arching aim is to turn stories into income. I’ve thought hard about deviating into other areas (such as the colouring books I dabbled in at the end of 2020, which I mentioned earlier in this post, or non-fiction), but at the heart of everything I do is the burning desire to tell stories. So stories will be the sole focus of my creative work this year.
This is what I’ve decided are my big goals for 2022:
My big focus this year is my Darker Minds series, although I have some other series in the very early stages of planning, and which I’d like to take time to think about, expand on, and see which I want to write, and which ones readers will enjoy. I am already committed to the first three books in the Darker Minds series, as they are available for pre-order, and I want to add to that number. By the end of the year, I want to have written six books in this series, even if they are not all published by the end of 2022.
I want to have decided on a second series, too, and made some headway into the planning of that series, ready for 2023 (blimey, did I just say that?!).
Growth is a big thing for me this year. It comes as a four-fold goal. I want to grow my back catalogue of books. This includes my work in different formats. Linked to this is my goal of growing sales.
I want to connect much more with my readers, too, so I have a goal of growing my Readers’ Club to a specific number (I’ve written it in my diary!). Some readers may only want to hear from me on social media, so I’m looking at growth there, too, and being much more regular and consistent with my posts, and experimenting with other formats on social channels.
Lastly in this section, I would like to expand my network of author colleagues and friends. Being able to talk about writing with someone who really understands what you’re talking about, and gets the problems and the tiny wins that seem like daft things to other people, is just so amazing.
My business goals basically come under two sections: financial and organisation. I have a particular financial goal that I want to hit for each quarter, and by the end of the year. I’m not going to disclose it here, but if I hit it, I’ll have hit a number of personal goals, too.
I know that any good business has well-organised, streamlined processes. So my goal is to streamline my writing process, which includes incorporating dictation into the first draft writing process.
I spend way too much time trying to find images or part-written stories, so I want to implement a better system for storing my ideas, bit-parts of stories, and marketing work. It will speed me up no end!
So there you go – my goals for 2022. It will be fantastic if I hit all of them. But if I make headway towards being further on my author journey than I am now, then that’s going to be brilliant, too.
It just remains for me to wish you a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping that 2022 will bring us all mush more joy, movement (whether locally, nationally or internationally), and happiness than we’ve all experienced in recent times.
I sincerely hope you have a wonderful 2022.
Would you like to join my Readers’ Club and get EXCLUSIVE gifts and bonus content? You’ll also get a FREE copy of Beneath the Flesh, a Darker Minds Crime and Suspense novella.