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!”
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.
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.