Winter is here, at least at my house, and that means so is the end of the year. With the holidays slowing the publishing world down as the year comes to a close, it can seem to get us reflecting whether we want to or not. I find myself wondering if I worked hard enough this past year. (I don’t know. I did work really hard but I definitely have my procrastination moments. I could probably do better with those.) Did I get as many manuscripts complete as I had hoped? (Of course not.) Did I get enough submissions out? (Yes! I can only have what is my very best out on submission and I am pleased to have gotten out what I have ready.)
Have you found yourself reflecting too? Whether you have submitted to a long list of agents, a handful of publishers, began studying the market, or anything in-between, a yearly time of reflection is a good way to take stock of what you are accomplishing. There are so many small steps on the way to even submitting work that each “small” accomplishment is meaningful. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you didn’t get all that you wanted done. Writing and/or illustrating and submitting well takes time!
All of this reflecting naturally leads us to thinking about goals. Having goals can help us sort out what we want to accomplish and help get us to there. Listing out our goals can help us break things down into doable steps.
On Christmas Eve morning my husband and I made a list of things that each of our kids had to get done for the day to get ready for Christmas. We didn’t just say clean the house. We were specific–make bed, sweep off porch, take out trash–things of that sort. Those were our goals for the day. My youngest was the first one done. He did his own tasks plus most of the others on the list before his brother and sister even got to them. “I love lists,” he said. “Because then I get to check things off!”
He’s a boy after my own heart. Not just because he’s my kid. A lover of lists? That is my people! To me lists are the best way to get things done, for the very reason he was so excited. When you have a list of goals you can see what you have accomplished and when you are done you get to cross them off and see that yes, I did this! For some reason it feels like you can trick your mind into getting things done and feeling accomplished when you do.
For all of us thinking about our submission goals for 2016, it seems like a great thing to make a beginning of the year list of big goals. Making a list like this can help you see the path you want to take to get to your ultimate goal of publication. Things like:
- Get -x- manuscript critiqued and revised
- Study agents and make a list of those that may be a good fit
- Write a query letter and synopsis for -x- manuscript
- Submit to -x- number of publishers
Everyone’s list of goals will be different according to where you are on your journey, and that is how it should be! I encourage you to make a list of big goals, then break those big goals down into lists of smaller goals that you can achieve more quickly and cross out soon. When you’ve got everything on one small list crossed off, go back to the big list and make more small goals to get you closer to crossing off the big ones. Crossing out feels so good. It shows that you are doing it! You are working your way to those bigger goals–which you will be able to cross off. (Positive thinking!)
Please, make goals that you have control of. Things like obtaining agent representation or having a book published this year are not goals that are in your hands. (Yes, I know you could self publish and have a book out like tomorrow. But if you’re going to do that you probably aren’t reading this post. We are talking traditional publishing here where you get paid for your work.) There are a lot of great things that are in you control when it comes to getting published:
- Doing your best work
- Making sure it is your best work by getting critiques
- Taking time to revise and edit well
- Learning about your craft
- Learning how to submit your work well to give it the best chance at success
- Making a goal to submit to -x- number of agents or editors for the year
These are the types goals that you have control of. These are goals you have the power to make happen so that you can check them off of your list. Sure, getting published is the ultimate goal but it will take the power of other people, timing, market, and maybe even a little luck to accomplish. Put it on your big goal list if you like, but be aware that you may not be crossing it off for a while. I personally like to put things on my list that I can for sure make happen!
If you need some more inspiration for making goals check out our goalpost archive. Dana gives us all sorts of inspiration and tips we can refer to when we need it. You’re sure to find lots of gems to keep you going!
How did you do with your goals this past year? What do you want to do better? What do you have planned for next year? Share with us in the comments or in our private Facebook group. I’ll start a 2016 goals thread!