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What’s your End Game?

A few years back, I taught a class called Cash in on your Creativity where I helped creative folks figure out next steps for their ideas.  One woman  asked about book publishing, and I talked at length about agents, self publishing, e-books, etc.  She then said, “I don’t care if I make money.  I just want to see my name in print.”

“Oh!” I answered in surprise. “If that’s your goal, you can just duplicate your book at the copy shop and Voila—your name’s in print!”

decisions

Decisions by Garrett Coakley

 What’s your Writing Destination?

Knowing your end game is a great strategy for directing your steps right now. Sometimes we get so focused on current projects and the steady acceptance of others, we fail to ask, “What IS my goal?”

Is it to provide a steady income for the family?  Is it to develop an expertise and book repertoire that supplements my speaking career? Is it to provide meaningful work in retirement?  Is it to travel to schools and speak to kids? To have total control over your writing?   To be published in a literary journal? To teach?

The options are endless and writing can be your conduit to any number of possibilities.  A friend of mine recently self-published a how-to book via Create Space specifically to lend credibility to her work as an illustrator. Revenue from the book was secondary to gaining additional art gigs.

Three Questions to Help you Figure out Your End Game

Perhaps you are crystal-clear on why and what you write. For others perhaps, you know you love it, but aren’t sure where it’s taking you, if anywhere.  See if these questions help focus you:

1. What’s your purpose that your writing will serve?

Is your dream to be like James Patterson whose name simply means “hugely successful author?” Or is  your purpose that of teacher, marketer, artist, photographer or historian who also loves to write?

Do you see yourself growing an online following and selling e-books to your readers?  Selling your books back-of-the-room at speaking gigs?  Visiting schools to promote your books?

Clarity of purpose often leads to clarity in writing.

2. Who do you want to talk to?

Envision yourself standing in front of a group reading an excerpt of your work and answering questions.  Who is in your audience?  And are you happy about that?

As a kid’s book author, the publisher naturally wants to put me in front of young kids. The truth is:  I would much rather connect with the parents and teachers  of those kids and am seeking out those book promo events instead.

If you are in your element with sci-fi geeks or WWII Vets, then by all means, tailor your work to them!

3. What about the money part?

Where does money fit into your writing goals? Are you hoping to quit your day job and write full time with a revenue stream to match? Are you happy with a smallish check from a recent submission?  Do you envision yourself the next Amanda Hocking who made her unpublished novel available on the Kindle and sold over 1.5m books?

Getting clear on the money piece can help you decide what you’re writing and how and where you’ll sell it.

PRACTICE

Share with your fellow writers how your goal-setting directed or re-directed your writing endeavors. Did you start down one path only to discover it wasn’t the right one for you?

Also, if you’re someone who hasn’t contemplated your “end-game,” share your thoughts on if you’re seeing a natural synergy with what you’re currently doing.

About Marianne Richmond

I'm Marianne Richmond—writer, artist and inspirationalist. My words have touched millions over the past two decades through my children's books and gift products. Basically I put love into words and help you connect with the people + moments that matter. You can find me on my website, Facebook, and Twitter (@M_Richmond21).

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  • http://www.dawnyspace.blogspot.com.au/ Dawn Atkin

    The End Game

    This is an interesting opportunity for me to ponder.
    I have enjoyed writing in one form or another since I was a very young girl.

    My BA (Hons) in Anthropology and Sociology was largely writing and analysing human cultural and social behaviours. Most of my working life has involved writing: marketing, correspondence, ministerials, research, reports, planning documents, etcetera.

    Throughout my life I have journaled holidays, written poetry, journaled through personal trauma and set-backs, sent letters (yes snail mail letters), made up card greetings.

    All of the above with relative ease or appropriate tension. All of the above written whether inspired or other wise. Simply because to scribe is my art. My innate and preferred craft for expression.

    I have day dreamed about being a paid fiction writer and whisking away to romantic or other stimulating locations to simply write, publish, sell, repeat. Only day dreams. The publishing world, industry, networks were beyond my capacity. Entering competitions and/ or making submissions seldom occurred. Mostly due to lack of confidence.

    Mixing with other established literati full of cliques and accomplishment only diminished my confidence.

    In recent years I have had the opportunity to mix with other amateur and passionate writers. People who shared my passion for the craft. People who have taught me, opened doors and people I have come to trust enough that I have been able to share some of my words.

    And like magic at the very same time the writing and publishing world has gone KABOOM!
    So many opportunities to write and share.

    Finally I feel I have something to say that not only have I enjoyed devoting to ink and phrase but that may be useful or appreciated by others. I have allowed my creativity a channel. I call myself a writer with an advanced hobby.

    Over the years working as a consultant and in paid employment I have learned much about the mechanics of business. I have struggled with the bridge between my creativity and business while at the same time I have assisted other artists and creatives to navigate and develop their passion. Being self employed can be tough.

    These days I am on an exciting threshold. I am excited about learning to play with and mobilise the connective power of the current social media technologies and powerful sharing mechanisms we have at our disposal.

    I have set some authoresque goals: Website and blog, social media, twitter and Facebook, publish. I understand the concept of ‘tribe’ in a fuller and deeper way. I am as excited about creating my ‘platform’ as I am about diving ever deeper into my writing. At the same time I am compelled to write with a ‘project’ approach: plan, develop implement, evaluate, repeat.

    I realise I am not as behind the eight-ball as I had so miserably thought. My children have grown up but not yet gone. Many pressures to perform, earn, and support others have now eased somewhat. A freedom to explore has given me space to open new windows and peek through other opportune doors.

    So as I go through the steps of platform building, I will simultaneously be brainstorming my second novel, completing my first novel, compiling some earlier prose works and aiming for an Indie publishing debut.

    I believe my readers will be many women probably 35 to 60 years of age. Where we can share the life stages with twists of sweet and bitter, reflect, rejoice and look forward.

    My voice isn’t fluffy, pretend or trying to fit in. It travels with the seasons and the moon between downright dark and incising to goofball, middle aged, mother humour.

    My end goal is actually my beginning. The beginning of this next creative stage of my life.

    My turn to roar!

    • Marianne Richmond

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply! I am delighted for you that you have such clarity and purpose. That energy alone propels you forward into new and rewarding opportunities. You go girl!!

      • http://www.dawnyspace.blogspot.com.au/ Dawn Atkin

        Thanks Marianne.
        Mostly thanks for the opportunity to reflect and realise where I am on the creative wheel.
        It’s so refreshing to call myself a writer – published or not – it’s simply what I love to do. :-)

  • http://www.darrellwolfe.com @DarrellWolfe

    From 2007 to 2010 I SLOWLY worked on, deleted, re-wrote, deleted, and eventually published on Create Space my book “Banking Basics for Believers”. It was available on Amazon in print and Kindle, but because I didn’t know anything about building a Platform as Michael Hyatt talks about it went no-where.

    But I’m now re-purposing that book. It’s still available for purchase. But for those who sign up for my email list they get it for free as a PDF. So my “End Game” changed course three and half years after I published it.

    At the time I only wanted to get it done. I’d completed so few things in my life that I just wanted to finish something. I was disappointed that I didn’t sell many, but that turned out to be OK as I took on Blogging more seriously this year.

    It’s been an interesting journey for me. I’m quite sure I’ll do all my self published works through create space. Even if I’m driving most of my audience to the eBook it’ll cost less than $20 to get it into print through Create Space for those who want to go buy a hard copy.

    I’m not opposed to getting a traditional “Book Deal”, but with the new media of today, that would be the icing for me, not the cake.

    • Marianne Richmond

      Thanks for sharing Darrell — I can so appreciate the push to get something done that we’re not even thinking about how to ensure we sell what’s now done! Sounds like you, too, have clarity on your end-game and it feels great to know you can control that strategy and not have to wait to be found!

      • http://www.darrellwolfe.com @DarrellWolfe

        It’s an ongoing discovery I think. I like what Jeff Goins wrote about writing. He said you just need to write from your passion, and find your voice. Let the other “business” stuff come second to that. I may need to do some of that too. SO… I’m going to play with some fiction too. We’ll see where that goes. Should be interesting.

  • http://joelkey.com/ Joel Key

    Thanks for the insightful post Marianne. Sometimes I catch myself focusing on the potential rewards of writing, such as critical and commercial success. At these moments, I remind myself that actually, I just love to write. Reading your article is a great reminder of the ‘why’ behind what I do.

  • Yael Luxman-Bahat

    End game. An “end game” sounds very strange when it comes to writing. After all, it is the actual writing that (sort of) is the end game, is it not? At least for those of us who’ve been doing it as children, adolescents or simply as amateurs.
    So my answer is this: my writing IS my end game. Everything else I do – my day job (as an editor, which I’m literally *dying* to quit because it makes me too cynical and judgmental), my income – all of this, potentially, is only the means to be able to continue writing.
    In the last few years I lost touch with my end game, and concentrated on the means instead. I thought that by doing so I’ll be able to clear more time for my writing and other creative hobbies, but I was incredibly wrong. For a long while I even tried to escape the writing and channel my energies to other creative paths, and it even worked – a little. I feared the writing because it exposes me, it exposes parts of me that sometimes I’m not aware of. But from time to time it bursts out, uncontrolled, like there’s a hole in the dam, and now I’m finally coming to terms with it again – instead of stopping the flow, I should just let it out, without fears and without inhibitions.
    So yes, my writing is my end game. It scares me to death, but without it I die on the inside, little by little – and apparently it’s very noticeable on the outside as well.

    As for the rest – which is usually about money, fame and glory: the fame and glory I don’t mind about, I never liked the spotlight. But money is very important. Money can help me quit editing and start writing my own words, instead of trying to figure out someone else’s. Money can buy the peace of mind I need to force myself to not look for more projects, and instead just “meditate” on the writing and see what comes out. I don’t need a fortune, just something that would allow me to be calm and write. I wouldn’t mind publishing best-sellers (probably under a pen name) and making a fortune, but this is definitely not the end game. I just want my Perpetuum Mobile, to get the writing to make sufficient income for me to keep on writing. That’s the best end game I can imagine.

  • http://shortstorystructure.com Michael M Dickson

    Book publishing aside – An entrepreneur I respect always told me, if you work hard the money will come.

  • http://www.toodlesbookclub.blogspot.com Kay Bolton

    My End Game

    1. What’s your purpose that your writing will serve?

    I don’t dream about being a hugely successful author, like Amanda Hocking, but I do dream that I will eventually publish something that isn’t totally crap, that people will laugh at, and point to me in the street. I also hope that when I do, and that day is not too far off now, I won’t fall into the trap of leaving a trail of poor grammar, punctuation and typos in my wake, for the collective reviewing hoard to jump up and down on me. After all, that would be stupidity beyond belief wouldn’t it? Haven’t I just spent the last couple of years criticising others for doing that. I want to be out there, but not just out there in a quiet way, oh no, out there and proud of my endeavours.

    If I’m honest, and I do try to be most of the time … I want a tribe. A tribe, that will like what I do, recognise my voice and want to buy into it. I don’t specifically want to be genre specific. The reasoning behind that is, pure and simple, I’m a Sagittarius (the butterflies of the cosmic world); I get bored easily.

    I want to hone what I’ve learnt, and do it well. Get better at it – thus why I’m totalling buying into the 10,000 hours to strengthen my writing muscles.
    2. Who do you want to talk to?

    I could totally stand in front of a group, back the Sagittarius thing, we like an audience, but I would much rather be something that is picked up on an ebook and read, and then the next thing I write is read because of merit. My tribe, not necessarily all the same as me, would like variety and also a bit of spice.

    I naturally gravitate to romance, it’s what I love. I am an incurable romantic. I am proud of that fact. I would love to try a bit on monster porn, or fantasy world building too. Unlike my men, I like non-exclusivity in writing, and reading, habits.

    I don’t really do children (not even my own *boom tish!*), so I can’t imagine ever writing a kids story. Never say never though.
    3. What about the money part?

    Money buys shoes and handbags, and Marks & Spencer’s Blackcurrant Sundaes. I would be a fibber if I denied it wasn’t important. You can only buy lots of M&S cakes with lots of money (would I then be a big fab fibber?), so I would like to make money.

    I would like money to help my dreams come true. One day I would love a small, but successful ebook publishing company, that will take money, money, and even more money. I would love a trip to New Zealand, that will take lots of pennies too.

    I am not the next Amanda Hocking, but I am going to be an Indie Writer this year. For the moment, that will be good enough for me.

    I’m doing well towards the whole 10,000 hours thing – 4 x 15 minutes = 1 hour. I have 9,999 hours to go.

  • Eliese

    This is late in the game, but I couldn’t get onto the site yesterday. :P

    My end game is something I haven dreamt about, never thought about to much. For now my head is crammed with short story ideas that keep streaming in. I plan to submit them to magazines and competitions, and see how things go from there. I have done that with one story already, and surprisingly, it was a success.

    I wouldn’t want to be a famous writer because I don’t think I would like fame. I would rather be published, and read without fame. This is still a high far away dream, but it is fun to imagine.

    Honestly, for now, I am enjoying simply writing and learning to write better.

  • http://www.toodlesbookclub.blogspot.com Kym Bolton

    My Write Practice today is working to the Prompt What’s your End Game?

    So, here’s my 15 minutes of mind and finger vomit … no words were harmed by editing in the following piece, although some grammar was bludgeoned to death:

    My End Game

    1. What’s your purpose that your writing will serve?
    I don’t dream about being a hugely successful author, like Amanda Hocking, but I do dream that I will eventually publish something that isn’t totally crap, that people will laugh at, and point to me in the street. I also hope that when I do, and that day is not too far off now, I won’t fall into the trap of leaving a trail of poor grammar, punctuation and typos in my wake, for the collective reviewing hoard to jump up and down on me. After all, that would be stupidity beyond belief wouldn’t it? Haven’t I just spent the last couple of years criticising others for doing that. I want to be out there, but not just out there in a quiet way, oh no, out there and proud of my endeavours.

    If I’m honest, and I do try to be most of the time … I want a tribe. A tribe, that will like what I do, recognise my voice and want to buy into it. I don’t specifically want to be genre specific. The reasoning behind that is, pure and simple, I’m a Sagittarius (the butterflies of the cosmic world); I get bored easily.

    I want to hone what I’ve learnt, and do it well. Get better at it – thus why I’m totalling buying into the 10,000 hours to strengthen my writing muscles.
    2. Who do you want to talk to?
    I could totally stand in front of a group, back the Sagittarius thing, we like an audience, but I would much rather be something that is picked up on an ebook and read, and then the next thing I write is read because of merit. My tribe, not necessarily all the same as me, would like variety and also a bit of spice.

    I naturally gravitate to romance, it’s what I love. I am an incurable romantic. I am proud of that fact. I would love to try a bit on monster porn, or fantasy world building too. Unlike my men, I like non-exclusivity in writing, and reading, habits.

    I don’t really do children (not even my own *boom tish!*), so I can’t imagine ever writing a kids story. Never say never though.
    3. What about the money part?
    Money buys shoes and handbags, and Marks & Spencer’s Blackcurrant Sundaes. I would be a fibber if I denied it wasn’t important. You can only buy lots of M&S cakes with lots of money (would I then be a big fab fibber?), so I would like to make money.

    I would like money to help my dreams come true. One day I would love a small, but successful ebook publishing company, that will take money, money, and even more money. I would love a trip to New Zealand, that will take lots of pennies too.

    I am not the next Amanda Hocking, but I am going to be an Indie Writer this year. For the moment, that will be good enough for me.

    I’m doing well towards the whole 10,000 hours thing – 4 x 15 minutes = 1 hour. I have 9,999 hours to go.

    © Kay Bolton

  • George McNeese

    I’ve never really thought about my writing as being a career worth pursuing. When I was in high school, Engkish was not my best subject, yet people enjoyed the stories I wrote. In college, I pursued a teaching career with the intent to teach creative writing in secondary school. Upon transferring to Georgia State, I changed my major to English, concentrating in Creative Writing.

    Since then, I tossed around the idea of having a writing career. Knowing the fact that being a best seller is not guaranteed, My pursuits have been off and on. I came to realize that being a success does not necessarily mean big bucks, although it would be good sell a ton of books. My “end game” is to be recognized and published. I could see myself speaking to local audiences, maybe a regional tour.

  • Michael Cairns

    HI Marianne
    Thought-provoking stuff, thanks
    My wife and I sat down and did this when we got serious about self-publishing last January. We set a few long-term goals, all based around what I wanted from my writing.
    I consider myself lucky in that I’ve never had a dream of being published by one of the Big 5, or to have my book in every book store. Having grown up on a steady diet of escapist fantasy and scifi, my goals are very much the same, simply to entertain and give people a way to escape their lives for however long they spend in my books.
    In reality, i’m aiming for people similar to me. Maybe inventive, lost in a crowd and never quite fitting in. As a teacher, i see a lot of students like this, and would be thrilled if my YA novel that’s coming out later in the year enabled those children to escape as I did. The lover of comics in me also aims squarely for the geeky crowd. :)
    On the timeline, we have four years left to get to the stage where I can go part time with my day job. I’m not sure I want to give up teaching completely, but I think a day or couple of days a week would be enough to scratch the teaching itch, with the rest of the time given over to writing.
    It never hurts to read posts like this and re-evaluate, make sure I’m still heading in the right direction. And also to remind myself of why I’m doing it, so thanks :)
    Mike

  • http://www.annepeterson.com/ Anne Peterson

    Marianne,
    Enjoyed your post. I’ve just completed a 2nd book and am about to put it on Createspace. I’ve completed the Kindle version. One problem I have is that I did all the things I thought were important and now it seems too wide lensed. I loved some of your questions. I am a speaker as well as a writer so I see my audience as those who have come to hear me speak. But I’m finding I enjoy writing more than one thing. I write to give hurt to the hurting. But recently I realized it would be good to narrow that as well. My poetry has been in stores since 1995, and while I’m glad about that, I want it in books as well as the framed individual pieces people can purchase. Recently I’ve written children’s stories and had so much fun. How can I narrow my focus when I care about all the areas I mentioned and then some?

  • Luther

    I think this exercise is beneficial for me because it causes me to focus my creative energy and be more efficient. Does this sound too much like a performance review?

    After employment with a major insurance corporation for 40 years, I retired because it was time and I was told that the job was no longer about being creative in my performance, but just to do what I was told by management or the computer, often times one in
    the same. One part of the job that I enjoyed most was the writing component and
    this part was essentially eliminated as computers took over more and more
    aspects of the job. Expenses had to be contained and premiums had to be more
    and more competitive.

    I have missed the writing and decided to try to learn more about the elements of good writing with the idea of observing where this learning process took me. No more performance reviews! (Although my experience has taught me that constructive criticism has been very beneficial.) Now I have joined the Write Practice friends and I plan
    on entering a writing contest of 1,500 words or less in May of this year. I think my purpose at this point is to be a storyteller and entertain other adults.

    This brings me to number 2, my audience. The other adults, probably in the Baby Boom generation with a smattering of Generation X, particularly those involved in cycling and/or backpacking will be my primary audience. Much to my chagrin, as taught by corporate America, I know that I have to remain flexible and ready to change to some degree to
    develop new audiences or keep my old audience.

    Finally number 3 is the money part, which I have not given extensive energy, since I still am in the learning stages. However, I would like to earn a few extra dollars and I’ve thought about applying for a part-time job just to earn that little bit of extra money
    to buy a new book on occasion or some small gifts for my grandchildren. What
    fun it would be again to be creative and earn a few extra dollars more!

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