Author Planning for 2021

By: Ken Brown
Published: 12/30/2020

Thinking about Your Author Business for 2021

I can't believe that we are coming to the end of 2021. It seems like the longest year ever and yet also the shortest year. Covid has definitely disrupted my life. I'm working hard to put the most postive spin on the year that I can.

Even though your goals for 2020 probably exploded somewhere between March and June, you still have to set your sights on 2021 and plan for how you hope the year will turn out. Your main goal as an author is to create and publish books each year, but you should still be thinking about your writing like a business person. I suggest you answer this list of questions to help you with next year's planning and to give you the best chance of victory.

Key Struggles for Authors
When you think of your author business and your career as a novelist, you should consider these key categories.

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Newsletters
When I think of my author business, I consider these four points like the legs of a chair. The business will fail if I don't keep the four legs level. So, when I plan for the next year, I place an equal emphasis on each. I budget money, time and energy for all five categories.

You need new content each year if you want to make money as an Indie Author. It's your job to decide how many books you'll write each year. Do you only have time for one new book a year? Are you hoping to write three to five in the coming year? Are you a master writer and can finish one book a month? All this depends on the number of words per novel, how much world-building is needed and if you have the time.

This is an area where you have to be honest with yourself. You may want to write twelve novels in 2021, but do you have the time and writing speed to accomplish this feat? I've decided that three novels a year is a good number for me. I can write a 120,000 word novel in six weeks. I did it in May and June of 2021.

Unfortunately, writing a first draft in six weeks, doesn't mean it's good, or that it's ready to be published. For me, it requires months of editing and then another month for Beta readers to comment on it. Then another month or more for the editor to kick it into shape for publication.

So, think about the editing tasks needed to complete the novel and not just the writing portion. If you're an Indie Author then you want to consider the time necessary for creating an awesome cover that is genre worthy, too. Will you create your own cover or send it to a graphic artist?

How many days a week do you plan to write? How many words each day? Will you need to outline any stories?

You can write a novel. Get it read by your team of beta readers and editors, but at some point you have to publish the novel. Publishing requires formatting the book for eBook distribution and maybe print distribution. Will you do that process yourself or outsource it? Think about these processes as you make your goals for the coming year.

For my first novel, I formatted it for mobi, ePub and print. It takes time and requires scheduling. You can format and publish your novels for free or spend money for formatting. Obviously, having books printed requires an outlay of cash at some point for the books and for preparation and proofing.

How will you sell your novel? Most of us will consider marketing the book at some point in the process. There are many strategies on this subject and I'm leaning toward the Permafree model myself. That means I'll market book one in a series for free and then hope the buyers will engage in two behaviors when they finish reading book One.

  1. Sign up for my Reader's Group (Newsletter)
  2. Buy all the other books in the series.
So part of marketing for you might be creating a newsletter in an attempt to create super fans. Will you advertise on Facebook, Bookbub, or Amazon? Will you choose to spend money on the advertiser newsletters like Fussy Librarian, Free Booksy, Bargain Booksy or Robin Reads or any of the other services similar to these? Will Twitter ads work for your genre?

Will you maintain a social network presence? Will you write a blog? How often will you update it? Will you drive traffic to the blog? Are you the type of person that might set up a tent at book fairs and sell your novels in person? Thinking and planning for these events take time. Did you add this time to your calendar?

If you're planning a newsletter then be sure to budget time for creating content once a week, twice a month or once a month. You can tell your readers how often you'll send your newsletters, then be sure and follow through with that promise. Your readers love to hear from you and not only when you have a new book out.

Tell them your plans for the coming month. Show them pictures of cats and dogs in your household. Ask them questions that they can answer. You will have to budget time for the newsletters and budget money for the newsletter service you choose. Will you have a free reader magnet to encourage newsletter sign-ups?

Onward to 2021
Have you thought about these categories? Have you thought about setting goals for the new year? Is it possible you always set goals and by January twenty-first your goals have splattered against the wall?

Be brave, set goals and then work to acheive them. Be realistic in your desires, but make a goal that will force you to stretch, so you stay motivated to accomplish it. I recommend you break down your goals into quarters. If you want to write three books in a year, what needs to be completed in the first quarter for you to stay on track? Then break it down into a weekly goal. What do I have to do this week if I want to finish that first book this quarter?

Each week spend fifteen minutes comparing your writing behavior to your weekly goals. How did you do? Can you do better? What did you miss? What should you concentrate on next week? I hope spending a few minutes on these questions will help prepare you for the new year and help you accomplish your writing goals for the year. Here's to a great and wonderful, Covid Free, 2021!

Cheers. Remember to Write Everyday. Ken.