Goal Setting: Not Just for Olympians

shutterstock_51884920I’ve always liked writing down my goals. Thinking through what I want to accomplish, and formulating it in a specific, concrete statement serves as a powerful focusing tool. I’m more likely to achieve my goals once they’re written down, because (1) I evaluate any work I do in terms of whether it will help me reach a goal, and (2) stating the goal starts me thinking how to accomplish it.

When I first started publishing erotica I didn’t care about making money. The rush of seeing my work posted in a marketplace visited by millions of people…

Money couldn’t buy that feeling.

Fast forward a year later and the writing bug has infected me so deeply its tiny feelers float in my veins, crackle in my marrow, seep through my pores. I don’t want to work a regular job while trying to find time to write on the side. No, damn it. I want to write all the time.

To do that requires that I (1) write more, and (2) get better at marketing.

The “write more” part is important. Volume of publication is a determinant of income. Having something constantly in the New Release list on the Zon increases the chance that potential readers will find your book.

The “get better at marketing” part is sorely needed. My journey toward joy in marketing will be the subject of a series of blog post. But that’s for later.  This post is about my goals (a lot of which do include marketing, as authors must market themselves).

I like setting goals. I should do it more often, because each time I do, magical things happen. This particular round of goal-setting owes a big big shout-out to the talented J.D. Carabella, whose work I have read and reviewed on this site, and with whom I collaborated on Lust by the Sea (it’s fabulous, get your copy on Amazon). She recommended me to Scribophile, a site for writers who want to improve their craft. Within Scrib is a group called Sex Sells, which discusses (as the name implies) what sells in writing about sex, and why. A sub-group of that group is the Dirty 30, a private group whose purpose is to help those who want to profit from erotic fiction.

As part of the vetting process to join D30, I was asked to share my goals, objectives, and aspirations.

Here’s what I wrote:

  • Goals: find readers who enjoy reading the type of erotica I write. Get better at writing said erotica, while exploring historical, contemporary, paranormal and sci-fi settings. Help others with their writing, either through beta reading or line editing.
  • Objectives: Learn best practices from other erotic writers – how have they found their target markets? Where are these folks hiding, and what do you do to build a following? Critique others’ work, and put my work out there to be critiqued, both of which help me improve as a writer. Partner with other writers where possible to advance the self-published and indie-published community.
  • Aspirations: Become a number one best-selling author on Amazon in a couple of categories, with a few thousand subscribers on my newsletter who eagerly press for news of the next new release. Get asked to contribute to the KDP Newsletter on Amazon about “my journey to success” as an erotica author. (It’s okay to dream, right?)

To make a long post even longer, new members in D30 were asked to state specific, concrete goals for the next 12 months.

That’s the good stuff, peeps, the specific, concrete, time-bound, this-shit’s-gettin’-real stuff. Probably no one but me will read the list, but I’m putting it out there because it will help hold me accountable. I’m going to mark things off as I get them done. (Watch for “hooray!” posts when I hit major milestones.)

My Goals: UPDATED 12 December 2016

Publish Lust on the Wing on the Zon on Sept 13  DONE!
Upload Lust in Tooth & Claw on the Zon for pre-orders Sept 23 DONE!
– Market the crap out of both on social media. In Process

Sleep a few hours. Didn’t do that one. And then,…
– Market the Oct 4 release of Lust in Tooth & Claw.  DONE Ask co-author Ina Morata to mentor me on blog tours. Still TBD
– Prep for the next issue of the anthology. DONE
– Work with WordWooze Publishing to get our Lust antho converted to audiobook. DONE. Wordwooze has the ball. In progress.
– Post three book reviews on my blog/Amazon/Goodreads. 1 DOWN, 2 TO GO!
– Post an article on my blog about how we used keywords and categories on the Zon for our anthologies. Still TBD. Posted a different article instead.
– NEW: Post an interview on my blog featuring Adrea Kore, talented editor! On hold

Three months (November – January):
– Issue another antho by early November (write a 20K word novella, beta read all authors’ stories, line edit, cover, publish, market). DONE. Lust in Winter made #1 on the Zon’s Hot New Release on Cyber Monday!
– Participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time. Nov 30: DONE and DONE!
– Earn points from critting authors’ work on Scibophile and post one of mine for crit. Earned the points in November, rest is TBD.
– Publish the first novella, Snow’s Reward, in my new Twisted Kingdoms series.
– Have another TK story ready for a beta read, and two more as work in progress.

Six months:
-Publish the first three TK stories as standalones.
– Publish the three stories in a compilation
– Publish three more standalone TK stories
– Publish three more editions of the Lust anthology
– Publish Lust by the Sea in audiobook format on Amazon/Audible and iTunes
– Write my dissertation and finish my PhD.

Twelve months:
– Earn enough income through publishing erotica to take a teaching position that leaves me enough time to write.
-Finish the TK series. Publish the collected works, all thousand pages of it.
– Write and publish the third book in my Soulmates series, Southern Comfort.
– Convert at least three ebooks to audiobooks and actually get a royalty check.
– Reach a thousand followers on Twitter.
– Publish at least one ebook review per month on my Crush Blush blog.
– Mentor at least two authors through their first for-money publication, in whatever form that mentorship may take (crits, edits, co-publication…).

The key to goals, the very heart of the beast, is making goals SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time bound. “I’m going to publish something this year” is an epic goal fail in every part of SMART. Bound any close-in goal by dates, times, page numbers, etc. Even a farther-out goal needs something to hang its hat on (number of novellas to write over the next 12 months, number of blog posts).

Is it fear of failure, or fear of success, that stops us from articulating our goals?  What are the consequences of not achieving a goal?

  • We get partway to the summit, yet that’s further than we would otherwise have gotten
  • We learn how to set more realistic goals for the next round of goal setting
  • We evaluate what worked well, and what didn’t, and thereby increase our productivity
  • We thumb our noses at the twin demons of inertia and procrastination.

Do you write down your goals? Do you share them, when you do?

~updated sept 24, 2016 with goal progress~


  1. Devi, you amaze and astound me at every turn! You’re simply the most incredible person to work with. Your goals are fantastic – fast-paced yet realistic, taking you in exactly the direction you want to go. Yes, I do write down my goals, and they tend to look very much like yours, but I can honestly say that I don’t share them, or maybe only with someone very close to me. I do find it helps me to have short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals in place. Having read this post, I seriously think it’s high time I made myself more publicly accountable, though. Watch out for my post on goals, then – after I’ve finished the beta reading for Lust in Tooth and Claw and done my edits! i don’t want you feeling the need to punish me…

    I shall consider myself well and truly asked about mentoring you in blog tours. I’m truly honoured! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think it should be me saying thank you, for all the hard work you’ve been putting into the “Lust” anthologies! I certainly will share my goals; I agree that it’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at an author’s thought processes – on craft, on personal aspirations, and on business. And it will be my pleasure to mentor you – I’m happy to return the favour for all you’ve done to help me!


  2. I really liked this article on goal setting, and have always taken the SMART approach to setting my goals for my work and businesses. I like how you have applied those rules here and have really established some measurable goals. Good luck with completing what you are trying to, it’s a lot of work. But, somehow, I get the impression you will succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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