Happy New Year!
By the time this post goes live, I’ll be somewhere around London with the outward motive of studying abroad and the inward motive of researching for my historical fantasy novels—and studying abroad as well, of course.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t have writing goals!
Here are five goals every aspiring author should have this year to be wildly successful by 2020:
1. Query 200 agents and editors.
Are you even trying if you only query twenty? Hurry and get 200 out before February.
2. Get a book contract.
This better happen before the end of March, because editors and agents obviously get back to you within a month.
3. Become a NYT bestseller.
Your amazing book will obviously be rushed to the press and come out mid-May, when it will immediately top the charts.
4. Write a sequel with rave reviews.
Everyone will be raving about book one so much that you’ll have a sequel out by August—for which you’ve received a six-figure deal, of course.
5. Get a four-movie deal.
By September, Disney will purchase movie rights for a lavish sum for your two books and the upcoming final book in the trilogy—which will naturally be split into two movies, as is custom.
And now, for reality: this is absolutely impossible.
To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Does anyone ever keep them? Every year, it’s just another reminder that we’ve failed.
Especially for writers, I think we tend to dream too big and expect too much. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. It just means you need patience, realistic expectations, and achievable goals. A realistic timeline would look more like this:
1. Send out ten to fifteen queries.
It isn’t how many queries you send, it’s how well you send them. Take your time to perfect and personalize them, then use the feedback you receive on them to improve before sending out ten to fifteen more.
2. Be contracted with an agent.
Most publishers want you to have an agent first. It will probably take an agent three to six months to see your query. Another month to pass it around the agency to see if someone is interested. A few weeks going back and forth with you with requests for full manuscripts, questions about platform, phone calls to discuss contract details. It’s reasonable to expect to get an agent within eight to eighteen months of beginning your queries.
3. Get a book contract.
You’ll have to polish your book and proposal to an agent’s standards. Then the agent will shop your work to publishers, who also take three months to a year to reply. The agent may have to send out several rounds. Then publishers have to pass it around the house, ask for a full, negotiate with your agent about contract details. By the time you get the actual contract, it will most likely have been a year or two since you originally signed with the agent.
4. Edit forever.
Now that you finally have the publication date, you’ll have to go back and forth with the editors, making change after change after change. Marketing plans. Cover decisions. Proofreaders, galleys, etc. Another year and a half until publication.
5. Bust your bottom to meet your sales quota.
The book comes out. It doesn’t sell itself. You’ll hardly sleep, you’re working so hard at marketing.
6. Potentially write the sequel.
If the first book does well, the publisher might talk to you about doing a sequel. Just as likely, they won’t.
It’s been four or five years since you originally started querying. If you’re smart, you’ve already started shopping your next book before your first one comes out. But, if you follow a four-year timeline, you’ve done awesome as an author!
This isn’t to discourage you. Instead, it should encourage you. You aren’t falling short or running behind if you don’t get a book deal this year. Those writers you see getting deals? They’ve most likely already put in the two years (or more) of work.
So here are my realistic goals as a writer:
1. Build my platform.
To get published, it’s extremely important to have a platform. So, by the end of 2019, I’m shooting for:
Twitter @alyssawrote: 500 followers
Twitter @CasualYAVillain: 500 followers
Instagram @alyssawrote: 500 followers
Facebook: 500 page likes
LinkedIn: 1,500 connections
2. Get a book contract for one of my books.
I have an agent, and my books have been sent out to some publishers. So, I want one of them to be contracted. It helps that one is cowritten with a much cooler writer than me: Hope Bolinger.
3. Finish Greg Must Die.
Could I write several books this year? Probably. Will I write more than one? Most likely. But I don’t want to stress myself out. So I’m only going to require myself to finish my middle grade humor novel Greg Must Die.
No, it’s not an exciting plan. I won’t suddenly be super cool. But, at the beginning of 2020, hopefully, I’ll look back and be proud of my progress.
What are your writing goals for 2019? Share in the comments below!