Happy New Year 2014! Time To Talk Goals
Nope, I’m not talking about footy goals, soccer goals, hockey goals, rugby goals or a quest to find the Holy Grail. I’m not talking about those wishy washy goals you make like I’m going to stop eating chocolate or I want to make a million dollars or I think I’m going to paint my house some shade of pink to piss off the neighbour next door.
I’m talking about figuring out what is most important to you and doing it.
Goals and resolutions are all well and good for those of you who can imagine in 3D without the aid of those funky glasses, but for myself affirmations of I will build my author platform and wield an army of reader minions is not specific enough. I mean how do you even measure that? One thousand minions = success? Two thousand minions? One hundred hits on the blog? Three hundred minion sign-ups to the newsletter? A Guinness Book of World Records attempt to create the world’s biggest book igloo dedicated to you?
As much as you’d like to think that you can manipulate outreach, you can’t. There is no lucky formula, you can’t grind up leprechauns and drink them in your tea to make your exposure equal to the amount of work you put in.
But what you can specify is what gets completed at your end. For that you need to figure out what projects you are most passionate about and want to advance. You need to figure out how you can expand what you already have into other forms. You need to have a realistic expectation of how much time you have and how fast you work.
I know exactly how long it takes me to write the magic number of 1,667 words: two and a half hours. If I want to put a grant application together: three days. If I want to record, edit and produce a video about 5-10 minutes in length it takes me six-seven hours. A podcast takes three hours. This is important for me to know so I don’t get disheartened. Because if I under estimate the amount of time it takes me to get things completed I don’t complete my daily ‘goals’, let along my goals for the month or year and I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel on the fast circuit to nowhere.
It’s hard to see past the hamster wheel, the assumed failures, the unbalanced effort vs. exposure equations. Which is why it’s important before you start your planning to realise how far you’ve come.
When the New Year dawned in 2012 I was still working in a mining company, bored out of my mind and dreading the first day back to work. How times have changed. Now I work in Australia’s largest writers centre, my job is to investigate and run writing experiments, I have three books out in the world, I gave over a dozen lectures across Australia in 2013 on topics I love, and when I added up my total (edited) word count for 2013 it equalled 137,680 words, 80,000 of which were written in the final three months. Before I started pulling that together list of achievements I was inhabiting a world of doubt, but now it’s full steam ahead for 2014. I hope after you look at your 2013 you’ll feel just as positive.
So, here is my list of creative and writing projects for 2014, I call it my happy list. You can call them goals if it makes you feel more comfortable. I’d love you to share some of yours in the comments below:
1) You Can’t Advance Your Career Without Words, so Step 1 is to Write, Write, Write!
This is what’s on my ‘Make Art’ list for the year. I’m not exactly sure in what order it’s going to come out of my head and into the publishing sphere but I’m excited for the journey!
- Finish and publish the sequel to my comedy novel set in Facebook ‘The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain’. It’s already at 90,000 words and still going but I’m confident it will be out before mid-year.
- Revisit, edit and release my inspirational and kooky Gap Year travel memoir as an e-book. It’s been sitting on the hard drive for almost eight years doing nothing. It’s time it was out there connecting with people.
- Collating my fantasy short stories into a collection for sale as an ebook. I’ve got six stories completed and will work on another two to round off the collection. Time to start drawing people to my fantasy writing.
- Non-fiction book based on my blog The Original Fantasy detailing the lessons I learnt during my mentorship with award winning author Isobelle Carmody, focusing on writing good fantasy stories that say something different, not cliché.
- Working my notes from my trip to Cambodia in 2012 into a long form journalism piece – basically a non-fiction novella.
- Developing my Deck of Cards series, a YA urban fantasy, into an outline. I was so super excited about this one I even wrote a short description: Jack, is an urban fantasy novel about a boy who discovers his gypsy heritage after unwittingly releasing Jack the Ripper into the world from a deck of magic cards.
- Developing my series of fantasy novels set in Easter Island into an outline: Moai, is a historical fantasy set in Easter Island about a young statue carver who must learn how to trap the evil spirit of the land, Tatane, before it leads her civilisation to self-destruction.
This is definitely a long list but now I know my writing speed I’m fairly sure I can pull it off. And if I even manage half this is will be a victory worth toasting!
2) Expand my markets
I am a big advocate for taking the work you have already done and allowing the words to leave the page and take a life of their own in another media. And I’m very excited to be partnering with creatives like voice-over artist Kevin Powe to achieve these aims with my fiction!
- Turning ‘The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain’ into a series of animate YouTube videos or a podcast with the help of Kevin and his animator/sound engineering contacts. I am so deliriously excited about this project that I’ve been hugging strangers (no seriously, don’t get too close)
- Turning my fantasy manuscript ‘Priori’ into a podcast, again with the help of Kevin. I’ve been looking for a way to build up an audience for my fantasy work and I feel podcasting is the way to go, with plans to either self-publish or traditionally publish the novel at the end of the podcast series.
- Continue to do physical book signings with my print edition of ‘The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain’. Yes print is a different media, and one I feel speaks to my target audience just as strongly eBooks. Print books are still a massive market share and I’ve been surprised at the number of print books I was able to move at the end of 2013, so I’m going to try and expand this via signings and talks in 2014.
- Move ‘Jake’s Page’ into production in the real world. ‘Jake’s Page’ is a mixed format book I created last year that is part short story, part play script. My aim for this work is to get it into the school system here in QLD, particularly boys schools, to be produced by their drama students. The book deals with themes of social media, drinking and transitioning into university
3) Focus on being a more regular part of the community via the blog, podcasting and online courses
At times I have found it hard to run my blogs at the same time as achieving my fiction writing goals, mainly in part because I believed I was some sort of literary superwoman and had the time to both produce fiction and write for my blog every couple of days. I fear I do not have super powers, I may in fact have anti-super powers considering how often technology seems to fail around me and so I have shifted my focus slightly to a more manageable schedule:
- Sick of the lack of control I have over my two blogger blogs I shall be shifting my blogs to shiny new sites! You’ll still be able to access all the archives, it will just look prettier, have better navigation and will have more pages full of relevant information. Basically it will make this blog look like the ugly step sister.
- I will be posting on my E-book Revolution blog twice a week (one post by me, another by a guest) and The Original Fantasy once a week. I feel this is less likely to kick me in the butt and paint me in rainbow bruises.
- I will be actively calling for guest posts by other writers, industry players and future thinkers. If you feel you have a post that fits this site, whether it be about writing or publishing or teaching people how to do something themselves drop me a line with a short pitch and bio at ebookrevolution (at) yahoo (dot) com.
- I will be doing a new podcast once a month on e-books, digital media and marketing. I’m always looking for interesting people to talk to so again drop me a short pitch and bio at the above email.
- I will be focusing on two new courses to help launch the new versions of my blogs, one on creating quality print versions of your indie e-books and another to help authors set up that bewildering email list of readers you may have heard about. So stay tuned!
4) Professional Speaking
I would like to increase the number of speaking events and the topics I cover, potentially even moving into speaking internationally. I’ve divided this into two levels: Speaking about the digital revolution and marketing, and soliciting school visits to talk about my Facebook novels and creating narratives using social media. Yes, I have spoken all over Australia! Please check out my Speaking page if you know of any opportunities to spread my knowledge.
5) Start my own alternative publishing house experiment
I do a lot of publishing experiments as part of my if:book Australia role, but this year I want to focus on one experiment in particular, my real life Choose Your Own Adventure stories. The aim is to culturally enrich cities with fictional stories and this year I want to move the idea from concept into a real app. As such I need to:
- Partner with an app developer to create Apple and Android apps. If you know any technologists interested exploring a new story format in the digital realm feel free to send them my way (ebookrevolution (at) yahoo (dot) com)
- Contact local councils and government bodies to try and raise funds for development of both the application and stories in their towns/cities.
- Apply for grants to kick start development of this new publishing space (known as locative literature).
When I put it all together it’s a lot of work, but as I said before, I’ve actually narrowed my focus down, this is little for me. The thought of achieving half this makes my so happy I could puke rainbows.
And by telling you all of this I am making myself accountable, or am trying to. If you see me slipping please, poke me with a digital stick and tell me to get a move on! Set cartoon characters on images of my across the internet! Hire hitmen to…. No wait that’s probably too far, but you get the drift. Because sometimes my brain takes holidays and I’ve really got to teach it to put in an annual leave application first…