This week is my last work week of 2013. That means it's time to take a look back at my progress this year -- both my successes and failures. And it's time to think about goals and resolutions for 2014. You can find mine below, and I hope you'll share some of your own in the comments.
Let's start with some of my biggest goals for this year and how things turned out. Some were original goals at the start of the year and others came later during my quarterly adjustments and evaluations.
Some of the things I hoped to accomplish this year included:
New Website Launches
Progress: My original plan for this year was to expand my site portfolio into other niches of interest. While I've held onto most of the domains I planned to use, I've since let some go. I made a major change to my plans during the year, deciding to scale back on my total number of sites so I could invest more time into my two biggest sites. I did launch or re-launch a couple of them. And I later merged three sites to create this one.
Progress: I had a goal of drafting a short story in the horror genre. That was completed (although none in the series will be published until next year). By the end of this year I should have two to four stories in this series drafted.
Progress: I had high hopes for my mystery novel series. I wanted to finish drafting the first book in the series and complete the first draft of the second book as well. That didn't happen. I didn't dive back into the first book until November for NaNoWriMo. While I wrote my 50k words for NaNo (between the novel and some shorter works of fiction), the novel isn't finished yet. However, my plan is to finish the draft over this week, so there's still a chance for that to be complete by year's end. I also planned to create some ancillary games for this series, but those were put on hold when I overhauled my publishing schedule.
Picture Book Manuscripts
Progress: I also planned to draft four picture book manuscripts in a series. I drafted three of them, and with work still to come in the novel and some of the short stories, I won't get to the last one before the end of this month. That said, I adjusted my 5-year publishing plan a few months back, and the fourth was already expected to wait until 2014. So it's less about missing the mark on this goal and instead shifting things around in the last quarter to better balance time between the genres I'm writing in.
The Query-Free Freelancer
Progress: This is a nonfiction book I drafted a few years back. It has since been shelved while I pursue other things, in large part because I wasn't sure I liked the angle I took with it. My hope was to finish the second draft this year. That didn't happen. After partially rewriting it to target a broader audience, I found I was less comfortable with that approach. While I went back to revising the original manuscript instead, it's far from finished. And after some major cuts, I want to add at least one new chapter. This will be a big project for the New Year. I also planned to revise and rebrand my 30 day marketing boot camp e-book under this brand this year. That also didn't happen. However, it's close to being complete, and Version 2 might release at the end of this month (although more likely in mid to late January).
Those weren't all of my goals for 2013, but they cover the major projects and how those plans fared. However, things change as we move along throughout the year. In addition to some projects getting pushed aside, other projects and focus areas tend to come up. A few of mine included:
- Merging three sites to launch All Indie Writers;
- Taking part in NaNoWriMo (and completing my 50k words)
- Putting more emphasis on product sales and advertising revenue on my bigger sites in an effort to move more towards publishing and Web development and away from freelance clients
- Starting a new nonfiction e-book series called The Busy Author's Guide, which will include business and book marketing guides for authors; the first one will either be finished this month or in January
Like the previous year, I dealt with a series of health issues that took me away from work. At one point I took off for the better part of three months, which meant all of my projects took a hit as a result. That said, I'm still happy with what I've accomplished this year.
2014 Goals and Resolutions
My biggest goal for 2014 is to take more control over my writing career, focusing more on my own projects and less on client work. That's a topic we'll explore here on the site in coming months, but for now know that all of these goals are working toward that end. Here are my professional goals for 2014:
- Cut back on my number of freelance clients by at least 50% by the end of 2014.
- Limit days for client availability to three days per week by the end of March, and to two days per week by the end of the year.
- Overhaul my service website by the end of March.
- Start posting to my service site's blog at least once per month (preferably twice) starting in January and continuing as long as I'm accepting freelance writing clients. I might write a post batch early on and simply schedule them to go live throughout the year.
This will be where the vast majority of my time goes this year. I know chances are slim to none that I'll get through everything here. But I'm going to push through as much as possible.
Just for the record, when I say "draft" here, I'm talking about very rough first drafts, similar to writing a novel during NaNoWriMo. My publishing plan also accounts for first revisions. But revisions are the big wild card moving forward as I perfect my process, choose the right editors for the different projects, and line up beta readers I trust. Obviously each piece will require numerous revisions, and the extent of those will influence how many of the drafts below are completed.
- Revise my first mystery novel by the end of June, send it off to a developmental editor during the summer, complete any further revisions, and get the manuscript off to a line editor by the end of next December.
- Finish the rough drafts for the second and third novels in my main mystery series by the end of the year.
- Draft up to and including the ninth manuscript in my picture book series by the end of June, and finish preliminary sketches so I can decide if I'll illustrate these myself or not (drawing is a passion of mine, but one I've had precious little time for lately; as of now that will likely remain the case and I'll have to choose an independent illustrator).
- Start two other picture book series. Draft at least four books in each series by the end of December.
- Finish the second draft of The Query-Free Freelancer by the end of March.
- Release five e-books under the Query-Free Freelancer brand by the end of December (which includes the one I'm editing now; the others are to be released one per quarter near the end of each quarter).
- Draft all copy for at least two games tied to my primary mystery novel series by the end of the year.
- Develop platform-building plans for my three pen names by the end of January, and roll out implementation starting with my horror writing pseudonym no later than February.
- Draft my first horror novel by the end of March, and draft the second in the series by the end of December.
- Draft up to and including the thirteenth short story in my horror story series (these will be edited and released individually, and later released as a collection).
- Draft the first two novels in a supernatural mystery series (separate from the other mystery series mentioned).
- Draft the first novel in a third mystery series by the end of December. (I will likely cut this project in my first quarter evaluation as I expect problems with my planned sources as of now. This will depend not only on time, but whether or not I can find suitable substitutes. Either way, if things change this will be the first project cut from the plans.
- Release at least three short e-books in the Busy Author's Guide series.
- Work with my husband on software to help me better manage my publishing work (I'll share more about this later when he has it in development). I would ideally like this ready to test by early February, but I know that might be too ambitious, especially as it depends on my husband's schedule working his day job and dealing with his own business clients. I think having something ready for regular use by the end of June is a more realistic goal, with testing some time in the spring.
Note: Any manuscript drafts listed with a deadline of the end of the year are actually broken down more specifically in my publishing plan. I'm listing December deadlines here for the sake of simplicity when I'm talking about more than one book in a series.
Websites and Blogs
These are the plans that tend to change most frequently with quarterly reviews. So I'm only going to include goals for my top few sites here.
- Get my primary three websites to reliably bring in at least $5000 per month minimum on their own (collectively).
- Release a series of at least three e-courses here at All Indie Writers by the end of the year, with at least three released by the end of July (working on the first one now, which will release in January).
- Launch the last two planned sections of the All Indie Writers marketplace by the end of January (as I don't think I'll get those finished this month).
- Set up a new theme on my genealogy blog by the end of April.
- Post to the genealogy blog at least twice per month from January through April, and at least once per week after that.
- Update all outdated posts on my small business blog (many written as early as 2005 -- still relevant info in many but in need of minor content updates and major formatting updates). I'd like them all finished by the end of the year, and am currently working on them at a rate of two per week.
- Put a new spam prevention measure in place on all of the bigger blogs (our old plugin is failing miserably lately).
In addition to this there will be a lot of administrative work here at All Indie Writers as I continually monitor search rankings, broken links, and related issues resulting from the recent rebranding and site merger.
I know my lists can look insane. If you've ever seen my weekly accountability lists over at the About Writing Squared forum, you'd know that's just how I work. I believe strongly in pushing myself to do more than I think is possible. I would always prefer to fail at some things and have them become learning experiences than to succeed at reaching every goal, knowing I didn't push myself to accomplish everything that I could. I know life sometimes gets in the way (and I've learned to take time off when I need to, especially with the health drama over the last two years). And I'll roll with the punches like I always do. So think of this list as more of a wish list than a hardcore schedule. I leave those schedules for my weekly and daily planning, which are based on these larger plans.
What about you? Have you set any business or writing goals for 2014 yet? What do you most want to accomplish? Are you happy with your progress in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments, or stop by the writing forum to talk more about goal setting.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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