The Weight of Goals


When you put pen to paper (metaphorically or otherwise), you may or may not be thinking about the end goal. We begin writing for many different reasons. We’re inspired, working through life’s challenges, sharing experiences and knowledge, recounting a tale, or honoring a life lived… Our reasons for writing may not always be obvious to begin with, but at some point, we must consider what we want to achieve with our writing. While goals are important in traditional publishing, they are exponentially so in Indie. Your goals can dictate your process.
When I talk to authors about their goals, I have found that there are four primary categories:

  1.  Revenue directly from Book Sales
  2.  Revenue from a Related Business as a Result of Publication
  3.  Inspiration or Education
  4.  A Personal Project

Of these, the success of the first two rely heavily upon the choices you make in your publishing journey. The latter two are sometimes, but not always, driven by a passion to share, which is more important to the writer than commercial gains. It’s also fair to say that a writer can have more than one goal and can certainly have different goals for different books and audiences.
If your goal is to generate revenue, either directly or indirectly from publication, it is apropos to treat the process as a business. When you tally up your book sales, you want the revenue to be higher than your costs. Your financial goals may be short, or long-term. Your plan might even include an expectation that your first couple of books are “in the red”, that they’ll lose money, as you build your audience and reputation. If that’s part of a calculated, long-term strategy, that may be appropriate.
When analyzing your costs, remember to include both direct and indirect costs. Your direct costs might include editing, cover art, formatting, printing, advertising, etc. Indirect costs can be more challenging to nail down, and may or may not be included in your calculations. An indirect cost might be the new laptop you buy to use for writing, but which you also use for personal entertainment or business. Maybe you want to consider the cost for your broadband or other utilities. Many indirect costs aren’t important to include in calculations, but some might be very important to consider. For example, is your time a cost? Do you need to take time off from work to write? An opportunity cost is potential revenue that you didn’t earn because of an alternative that you chose. While an opportunity cost isn’t something that you need to include in your calculations, it’s an important consideration. If you’re in a situation where you need to make some tough decisions, are you willing and able to forfeit other revenue to pursue a fiscally rewarding writing career? The answer might be “no”,  or it might be, “not right now”.  If either of these applies to you, you have gained invaluable information. If opportunity costs aren’t an issue for you, but budget is, you’re in a very similar situation. You can look objectively at the business of publication.

Read the entire article in the Dec/Jan 2021-22 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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