When it comes to new year’s resolutions, most people tend to make them vague or difficult to control. They go for something like ‘I’ll sell 1000 books’, or ‘I’ll start blogging’.
That’s great, but how?
As you read through this list, think about how it applies to you, and what you want to achieve as a writer.
Your goals—such as selling 1000 books—are big and lofty and require smaller steps to turn them into a reality.
If you’ve never made a writing-related new year’s resolution before, I beseech you to start small.
Then, break that resolution down even smaller.
Break it down as small as you possibly can.
So you want to sell 1000 books?
What marketing strategies will you try?
How will you try them?
Be as specific as you possibly can with each step, and write them down somewhere so that you—and your accountability buddy/buddies—can keep track of your progress.
But also, start with something that’s just to the edge of comfortable, but not so far out of your comfort zone that you clam up completely.
Then, if you achieve that this year, move on to something more challenging.
Gradually push yourself further and further outside of your comfort zone.
You’ll find that, with time, your comfort zone will grow wider and wider.
That’s the key to growing as both a writer and as a person.
The list below is divided into sections to help you better choose which area you’d like to work on.
So, are you ready to choose your new year’s resolution?
1. Finish that book
Isn’t this what most writers aim for?
Whatever it is, however long you’ve been writing it, sit down and finish it!
(Stay tuned next week for some tips on how to do this.)
2. Finish that poetry collection
Go through the poems that you’ve written and put your best ones into a collection.
You could then send it to publishers, self-publish it, or just share it with friends and family.
3. Finish that script
So close…and yet so far…but unless you sit down to write, you’ll never get anywhere.
4. …or let an old project go
Sometimes you need to say goodbye to an old writing project so that you can move on to something else.
New writing projects often flex our writing muscles more than old projects because they’re about different characters, different settings, and different plots.
And sometimes old writing projects just aren’t for you any more.
Sometimes you need to say goodbye to them because, like a pair of children’s shoes, they no longer fit.
Instead of fighting it, accept it and move on.
5. Start something new
Once you’ve let something go, embrace trying something new. There are lots of ways you can do this…
6. Write in a different genre
Writing in a different genre is a great way to flex your writing muscles. It challenges you all over again.
7. Write in a different medium
If you’re a poet, try writing fiction.
If you’re a nonfiction writer, try your hand at poetry.
Try something completely unrelated to what you usually write; that way, you’ll grow the fastest and the most.
Always be open to trying new and different forms of writing—you never know what will suit you the most.
And don’t forget that what you find most comfortable or enjoy the most may be different a year from now, and will most certainly be different ten years from now.
8. Become a better copywriter
Working on your copywriting skills is about more than just working in marketing.
Improving your copywriting skills will help you in every facet of your writing career.
It can even help you to sell more books.
Bryan Cohen’s book, How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis, is a good place to start.
Research and planning
9. Conduct A LOT of research for your upcoming project
No matter what you’re writing, you can never do enough literary research.
(So long as you’re not using it as an excuse to not write.)
10. Finish world building for your novel
World building—particularly if you’re writing epic fantasy or scifi—takes forever.
Give yourself plenty of time to do it, and be preprared for it to be an exhausative task.
Don’t get caught up spending forever world building, but know that your writing process will be much faster if you plan in advance.
11. Increase the number of words per minute that you can type
The faster you can type, the faster you can finish your work-in-progress.
And there are always ways you can type faster.
Don’t forget that you class as fast will be different to what other people class as fast.
I can type at 120wpm, but to my software developer friends, that’s slow.
Start by doing a typing test, then re-measure yourself every month.
But remember that these aren’t perfect measures of your typing speed—I can type much faster when I’m not doing those tests than I can when copying the text out for them. However, they’re a good ballpark.
12. Work on your developmental editing skills
Developmental editing—sometimes called structural editing—is the key to great novel writing.
This is where you look at the plot, character, narration, and pacing.
It’s the difference between glaring plot holes and a polished plot.
13. Work on your line editing skills
Line editing checks that everything makes sense and is consistent. This is important to avoid characters names or personality traits changing!
14. Work on your copyediting skills
Copyediting is often confused with proofreading.
It’s where you check for grammar, spelling, consistency, and style. You refine your sentences so that they’re more readable.
15. Work on your proofreading skills
Proofreading makes your work more polished and professional.
It’s the final stage before sending your book to agents, publishers, and readers.
However, proofreading your own work is incredibly difficult because you read what should be there, not what actually is there.
16. Go through old stuff and submit it somewhere
You might be surprirsed at what you find…
17. Enter one competition a month
Writing competitions aren’t as difficult to win as you might think.
There are lots of myths surrounding them.
And you know the best way to disprove those writing competition myths in your head?
By entering them.
18. Self-publish a book
Never done it before?
Now’s the time.
Done it before?
Time to do it again.
The more books you publish, the more money you’ll make and the more people you can reach.
19. Publish a book a month
Unless you write full-time and have money to spare, this isn’t something I’d recommend.
However, the more regularly you publish, the more visibility you get, and the more books you’ll sell.
So, if you have the time, why not give it a go?
However, don’t publish a book a month if it means sacrificing on quality. A quality product is still imperative.
20. Submit your work to an agent
Want to get published traditionally?
Start sending your work to agents.
Traditional publishing can take several years, so the sooner you start pitching to agents, the sooner you can see your book in the shops!
21. Submit your work to a small press publisher
Small press publishers are often more hands-on than larger publishers.
They can be great for building your confidence and are often more nurturing when it comes to your stories.
22. Design a book cover
Designing book covers is a whole new skill you need to learn if you decide to self-publish and can’t afford a cover designer.
Take the time to learn how to use Photoshop and what the requirements are for your genre.
23. Redesign your book covers
Growing tired of your book covers?
Feel like your books need a new look?
Or maybe they’re not selling and could use a facelift?
Why not give your books a new cover?
Take the time to research cover designers or how to do it yourself.
24. Get 50 book reviews
Getting book reviews is HARD.
50 is seen as the number to get for it to really start to affect your book sales.
Challenge yourself to get 50 for one of your books.
25. Post weekly on your blog
This was one of my goals for 2018.
And, while I kind of cheated towards the end by getting people to write geust posts for me, it increased traffic by almost 1000% in twelve months.
Showing up on your blog and taking the time to research keywords are the two most important things you can do to increase your blog traffic.
That, and writing about things your readers actually care about. If you’re writing about things nobody cares about, you’re going to be seeing tumbleweeds for a long, long time.
26. Join a writing group/community
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my local literary community.
Finding your kin can make a huge diference to your motivation.
You might have to kiss a few frogs first, but it’s totally worth it.
27. Make 12 new writerly friends
As introverts, it isn’t always easy to make friends.
If joining a writing community feels like too much to you, focus on making one new writerly friend a month instead.
Try to make them in-person if you can—further pushing you outside of your comfort zone—but online friends count too.
28. Get feedback from 12 different writers on your work in progress
Every time you get feedback, you get to see how different people interpret your writing.
You’ll often be surprised at how differently people can read the same piece.
Hearing feedback from others also helps you to see your writing more objectively.
29. Exhibit at one event a month
The right events can introduce you to new, loyal readers.
Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a big event. It’s about quality, not quantity.
It was at a small event last year that I met someone who would go on to be one of my most loyal readers and biggest advocates.
30. Read at an event
Public speaking is everything for writers.
And the only way to build your public speaking skills is to practice.
31. Organise an event
I emphasise one event, because organising an event always takes longer than you think it will.
The event doesn’t have to be a book launch. It could be an open mic night, a book festival, or an interview with your favourite author.
The best thing about events, by far, is the networking.
32. Build your marketing skills
Marketing sells books.
The better your marketing skills are, the better your chances are at selling books.
33. Set up a mailing list (and contact them regularly)
Mailing lists really are everything when you’re a writer.
They’re one of the contributing factors to the growth in traffic on this very site last year.
An engaged mailing list brings readers to your books and your blog. It’s as simple as that.
34. Start a blog
If you don’t have a blog and have planned to start one, why not make this year the one that you do?
35. Write 12 guest posts
Guest posts are great for selling books and building your brand.
36. Write 52 guest posts
12 seem like too few? Why not push yourself and aim for one a week?
Keep in mind that getting accepted by publications can take time, though.
However, the bigger your platform and the more often your name is out there, the easier it becomes.
37. Start vlogging
Not many writers vlog.
If you’re not camera shy, why not make yourself stand out from your competitors by starting a vlog?
You could talk about your writing process, offer advice for fellow writers, or talk about your life.
38. Start a podcast
Podcasting is a good medium between blogging and vlogging.
39. Guest on 12 podcasts
Build your author brand by guesting on other people’s podcasts.
40. Repurpose your content
Don’t just write blog posts—record yourself reading them aloud and turn that into a video and a podcast as well.
The more ways you create content, the more people you can reach!
41. Create an author brand
Your author brand plays a huge part in how people perceive you.
These then affect the types of readers that you attract.
Consciously creating your author brand requires a lot of work.
For some people, it happens naturally, but if you want to fast track it, doing it consciously is the way to go.
42. Develop your author brand
If you’ve already started to build your author brand, build on what you already have.
43. Create some branded merchandise
The more products you have, the more money you can make.
Check the contracts on the images on your cover, though—some of them have clauses that you can’t use them in merchandise.
44. Run an Amazon Marketing campaign
The right paid advertising campaign can bring new readers to your books.
Kindlepreneur has a great free course on how to use Amazon Marketing if you’re new to it.
45. Run a Facebook Ad campaign
The Facebook Ad interface is ugly AF.
But Facebook Ads can and do work.
Do some research into how they work and what works best first, though. Facebook Ads are far more complicated than Amazon ones.
And, when delving into any form of paid marketing, ensure your cover and copywriting skills are on point first.
There’s no point spending money on paid campaigns if you copy and cover suck.
46. Set up a Facebook group for your book series
Setting up a Facebook group—and posting in it regularly—can be a great way to engage with your readers, build a community around your books, and of course, market your books.
47. Set up a Twitter account for one of your characters
Got a particularly interesting or unique character?
Why not set up a Twitter account for them to show their unique perspective on the world?
If your character is an artist or muscian, you could also use social media to show off their (aka your) skills.
48. Set up a Pinterest to share your blog/podcast content
In March last year, this site had a huge surge in traffic.
And I was surprised to find that that traffic came from Pinterest.
Pinterest is a highly underrated source of traffic.
49. Write 12 book reviews and share them on Instagram
Book reviews can help you to engage with other writers and readers.
And posts on Instagram with lots of text do pretty well, too.
So why not work on your photography skills, take a pretty photo of the book (or ebook), then share your thoughts on the book on there?
50. Take Mark Dawson’s SPF 101
Sign ups for this only open a couple of times a year.
However, it’s totally worth it.
I’m working my way through the course right now. I haven’t even finished it yet and it’s given me a lot of food for thought.
The Facebook group that comes along with membership is also incredibly valuable. There are lots of people who’ve been in your shoes who can answer your questions!
51. Be comfortable with your writerly self
Sometimes we’re not as comfortable admitting that we’re writers as we’d like to be.
Whether that’s because of the people around us or simply a lack of confidence, make it your new year’s resolution to be more comfortable in your writerly shoes.
52. Get over your fear of self-promotion
Self-promotion is everything when you’re a writer.
It is THE way to sell your books.
Hiding behind a bookcase and hoping people will find your book just doesn’t work in the twenty-first century.
If you want your book to be read, you need to face your fear of self-promotion.
Some of the things on this list will help you to achieve just that.
BONUS RESOLUTION: Read 52 books in a year
This was my goal in 2017.
I’d gradually been increasing how many books I could read in a year for a while, and this felt like the next logical step.
It was still a push, but I wanted to improve my skills as a writer, and reading and analysing the writing of those that I admired was one of the best ways to do it.
And, while it was difficult at times, I ended up reading more than 52 books in a year.
It all started by making reading my priority, and that’s what all these resolutions really boil down to.
When you’re bored, when you want to binge Netflix, when you want to spend time with your friends, you have to ask yourself if you’ve spent any time that day working towards your goals yet.
If the answer is no, and you’re not willing to fight past the desire to binge Netflix or catch up with friends, you have to ask yourself how important your goal or resolution is.
If you’re not willing to make sacrifices to achieve it—and, no matter what your goal is, you will need to make sacrifices to achieve it—do you really want it that badly, or do you just want to want it badly?
Over to You
Whew, that’s a lot! What are you going to choose as your new year’s resolution? Let me know in the comments and let’s hold each other accountable!
Want some help achieving your writing goals?
Productivity for Writers is full of tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time so that you can write more and worry less. You’ll be a better, more confident writer in no time. Download your ebook or purchase your paperback today.