Everyone sets goals for themselves. As an independently published author, I’ve set quite a few goals for myself over the years. Every month, my writing mentor gives me an assignment or two. For July, it was about setting goals. He wants me to set some advertising goals as well as some writing goals, especially since I recently achieved a goal and crossed it off my list. But what goals to pick has been complicated.
My very first goal was to publish 5 books. Then after I started selling books at a decent rate it became “make more than the average US writer” which is roughly, $30,000 annually. I achieved it and set a goal to sell books in 20 countries. When I met that one, I doubled and in June 2020, I had officially sold books in 40 countries and I crossed it off my list. Somewhere along the way, I set a goal to sell a million books. I’ve sold 1.1 million and some change, so it too has been crossed off.
Before 2017, I spent about $200 a month on advertising. 2017-2020 I’ve done good to invest $1000 a year in adverts. So that is one of my new goals; get back to advertising. But I need a new benchmark for measuring “success as a writer”. I considered just doubling my sales goal – get to 2 million book sales (freebies and promo copies count as sales in the book world or I’d be much richer than I am). My best sales year was 2016 where I sold more than 200,000 books. Maybe, I need to set a yearly sales goal of say 300,000 then?
I offer 6 free ebooks, which makes my chances of hitting the USA Today bestsellers list virtually impossible. I’ve considered offering fewer freebies, but as a reader, I love free books, as an advertiser free books are amazing for picking up new readers, and as a writer, I like giving someone the opportunity to meet my characters without regretting they paid for it (I know my characters are not adorable and loveable to everyone). But it does mean when I advertise Book A or Book C, I have a ton of downloads of the other freebies which hurts my chances of making a bestsellers list. On average you need 50,000 downloads of a single book in a single day to make a list. I’ve come close at 41,000 downloads of Tortured Dreams in a single day, but I had about 20,000 downloads of my other freebies as well which will not get me on a list. And I don’t believe in setting goals that are doomed to fail.
I’m leaning towards the 300,000 books in a single year goal. It would require me to focus on advertising as well as publishing new books. Besides, there is always the “sell another million books” whispering from the depths of my brain.
As a side note, setting personal goals, competing against yourself, and the necessity of personal achievements has been a topic of conversation between my bestie and myself this week due to a situation she had with another friend. I am a firm believer that people that set personal goals, compete against themselves, and acknowledge their achievements are happier people in general and are more fulfilled in their career choices. I believe people who only measure their success through the eyes of others are doomed to never be happy. People have so much going on (professionally and personally) that they often miss the accomplishments of others. Knowing you’ve achieved something and celebrating it for yourself is more important than getting a “good job” from a boss or coworker. Those are gratifying, but not common enough to satisfy the thirst of the soul for a job well done.