At the request of Magan Vernon and Jason Letts, I’m posting my Five Year Plan, and how I came up with it (I’ve been revamping it this weekend, having already met my five year goals in one year). I hope it will help you, if you’re trying to make some goals in this wild and wooly time in publishing.
Why Make The Plan?
There’s a million decisions you have to make as an author. What do I write next? Indie or trad-pub? Agent or no? Do I go to this conference or invest in how-to books? Should I join a writerly organization? Etc. Having a plan will help you navigate these to find answers that line up with your goals.
For example, I’ve been struggling for some time whether to renew my SCBWI membership. SCBWI is not friendly to indies. I have PAL (Published and Listed) status with them for my small-press book, but not for my indie book, which is far more popular. I love my local SCBWI crit group, but the local conference has nothing to offer indies as well. Why keep paying the fees?
Financial Five Year Plan
Creating the financial part of my Five Year Plan was fairly simple – I want to fund my three boys’ college education with my writing earnings. That’s a number I can calculate. It’s not a small number, but if I can replicate my sales this year for the next five years, I will reach that goal. So, it’s reasonable.
And replicating my sales means writing and publishing more books.
That I can do. 🙂 But which ones? And my goal isn’t just to make money, but be creatively fulfilled.
Creative Five Year Plan
I started with brainstorming things that I believed. This may seem unrelated, but I think if you follow your core beliefs, you will generally make the right decisions, and things like fame, fortune, and friends will follow (man, that’s a lot of f’s).
Identifying My Core Values
My original brainstorming was much messier than this. But here it is in brief:
- I believe the best way to improve your craft is to produce a large volume of work. This is following the inspiration of Ira Glass, and I deeply believe this is why I’ve come as far as fast as I have. In the last 4 years (come December), I have written about 750,000 words. Short stories, novellas, flash fiction, novels. That’s FINISHED works (although not necessarily published), not counting the countless edits that went into making those finalized words. And that doesn’t count the words I’ve written on my blog over the last three years (I’m afraid to know how many those are).
The idea of quality vs. quantity is a misunderstanding of how it really works – you have to write a lot in order to learn how to write well. And you have to constantly strive to make every work better than the last.
- I believe you have to write what you’re passionate about. I believe that the magic pixie dust that makes people enjoy your stories is that YOU enjoy the stories first. I’m not talking about the flush of amazement that new writers feel when they first start writing and are in love with the act itself. “Hey! I’m writing! Look! I’m creating worlds and characters and stories! It’s sooooo cool!” That infatuation will pass and then you will find the stories that truly move you, whether it’s a love story or a heart-pounding adventure or a soul-searching literary piece. I believe if you unleash the creative side of yourself, allow it to create the art that you love, you will by nature produce the thing that has the most potential to attract people to your work. Because it has passion and authenticity.
Having those core values (and a lot of other random notes), this is what I came up with:
- To finish writing/publishing the Mindjack Trilogy, including the Mindjack Origins short story collection.
- Produce a live-action trailer for Mindjack. Consider acquiring a film agent to sell rights for the series.
- Brainstorm/outline two possible indie series: one YA/SF, one adult/steampunk fanstasy/romance. Experiment with novel length/number in series. See what works best for the stories.Write and indie release at least one novel, possibly two, plus additional shorts related to these series.
- Revise my middle grade fantasy. Renew my SCBWI membership. Attend my local SCBWI conference. Submit my MS to agents/editors. If the trad-pub path fails for this book, indie publish.
- Seek out ways to stretch myself in my craft. Keep myself open to experimentation.
- After one year, make a new plan. 🙂