This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post for February 2024.
Alex's awesome co-hosts this month are:
Please stop by their blogs and say thank you.
I took a break last month to spend on goal planning for this year. (God is probably laughing at my plans, but at least I have them. 😄) For the sake of accountability, I'm going to tell you my goals for 2024 and give you a free author tool for reading this mile-long post!
But first I'll answer the February question.
What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog?
- Confusing or hidden navigation.
- Headers so large they fill the entire screen.
- Annoying pop-up 'subscribe' windows that overlay the content the minute the page loads.
- A site that lacks the basics.
- No 'about me' info. (Whose blog is this?) Bonus points for a headshot.
- No blog follow options, or they're hidden way down at the bottom.
- When I have to click a bazillion times to get to the posts. (Case in point: if your blog is located on one of your website's pages, please use a link specific to that page for IWSG. Don't make me click through your home page to get there.)
- Book info not laid out in logical/series order.
- Shouting 'buy my book' all the time. Reserve that content for big news (sales, new releases, etc.)
I promised you a free author tool. You can scroll down and grab it or keep reading, your choice.
I told you last month that I have BOLD goals for 2024, and I wasn't kidding.
Getting a new heart valve has restored my energy and sparked ambition to get serious about my writing. My health has improved, but my days are now literally numbered. My life expectancy is only as good as the life of my valve (there's room for a second one when this one fails, but probably not a third). So...
Despite my mortgage going up $500 per month last spring (taxes) and the gut punch my finances took from the medical bills and lost wages, I've set my sights on reducing my job hours to part time and treating my writing like a business. There will be perks, such as more time with family and some travel, but there will also be work. I'm determined to replace a big chunk of my income with royalties.
I knew I'd have to get organized to make any significant progress. I perused several author planners, but every single one of them had features I'd never use.
I didn't let that stop me. I made my own. I printed it out, put it in a binder, then sat down and started filling out the 5-year plan. I'll refine it as I go, but if I don't aim high, my arrow will land in the dirt.
Over the next 5 years I want to...
- Replace at least 50% of my income with royalties
- Reduce my working hours from full time to part time
- Go from publishing one book per year to ≥ 4 books per year
- Improve engagement with fans via regular newsletters, etc.
- Attend in-person events (book signings, conventions)
- Create a beginner fiction curriculum & teach classes for aspiring authors
- Update the covers and interior files of my western series
Goals for this year are...
- Publish book 4 in my western series by June
- Read at least one craft book or non-fiction diary/research book per month & make notes
- Develop a regular social media / newsletter schedule by March & send out 3 to 4 newsletters this year
- Reevaluate my social media activities and nix what isn't giving me something in return for my time (exception: worthy, altruistic endeavors, such as teaching new writers)
- Plot an entire new western series and begin writing those books
- Work on plotting the next book for my other pen name
My planner has 5-year, 1-year, monthly, and weekly planning pages. There's a place for social media planning and word count tracking. It also has pages for monthly and yearly evaluations. After making it, I decided not to use the weekly planning pages for now. They'll come in handy later, when more of my work life shifts to writing.
If you use a planner, remember that goals need to be specific and measurable. You also need to jot down tasks and behaviors that will help you accomplish them.
Some supportive behaviors I noted were...
- Find ways to streamline my processes; work smarter and faster, not harder
- Set aside blocks of time to generate content and pre-schedule blog posts and newsletters months in advance
- Read books on the craft & non-fiction books for research (I jotted the titles on the month-by-month grid.)
- Rebuild my savings and pay off debt so I can reduce my hours at work (That means working overtime shifts, which is counterproductive to writing. Ugh.)
- Draw a small amount from my retirement to bridge the income gap when I first go part time
- Go wide with my other pen name and look into direct sales, so my eggs are not all in Amazon's basket
If you'd like to download a free copy of my author planner, click here. It's a printable PDF file.
What do you think of the planner?
Do you have bold goals for this year, too?
If you had taken a course when you were a baby writer,
what topics would you want the instructor to cover?
IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a monthly bloghop that offers a safe haven for writers to express their feelings and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It's also a venue for offering support, both in the form of comments and positive posts. Writers of all kinds are welcome.
We 'meet' the first Wednesday of every month. If you're interested in learning more, click on the link above. And don't be intimidated by the size of the group. We're not expected to visit everyone on the list.