I love goals. I love them so much I actually have a goal book, like a journal, where I keep all of my goals. Penning your goals (instead of just saying or thinking them) conjures them into reality and are as permanent as any word printed on a page. Written goals hold you accountable, and keep you inspired.

I read a lot of books on goals and goal setting because I love getting different perspectives. And while each book may be slightly different in their views or how they tackle the topic of goals, there is one theme prevalent in every single one.  Specificity is key.

Anything you do around goal setting has to be insanely specific.

And any resources you read will tell you that that big picture, nebulous goals won’t help you reach the finish line.

When I speak to authors on the phone, or in person at conferences, my first question is always about what their goals are.

Sometimes I get super specific answers, but in most cases, authors say something generic and obvious, like: “I want to sell more books!” And while “selling books” isn’t a bad goal, it’s also everybody’s goal. And being like everyone else won’t get you to where you need to be.

If you have no direction other than “book sales,” you’ll often make bad decisions, over-spend in the wrong areas of marketing, and end up nowhere near your final goal of actually selling more books. Because the end goal is achieved through an aggregate of hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny elements that result in more book sales.

Creating the Path to Book Sales Success

Let’s break this down even further and start creating a path to success. For example, let’s say you wrote a mystery. It’s got a great cover, the reviews have been good thus far, but it’s not really moving the needle on book sales. So, what can you do? Well, let’s take a look at this more closely:

A lot of times, I’ll look at other pieces that aren’t necessarily an integral part of the author’s marketing plan. Let’s say that there hasn’t been an eBook promotion in a while. If his market is very eBook-centric, that’s maybe a good place to start. So, let’s add eBook promo to the list. Now we have:

eBook Promo = Book Sales

Ok, so what else can the author do? Well, maybe they haven’t started building their mailing list yet, so let’s add that to the list:

Mailing list > eBook Promo = Book Sales

Is the author on Goodreads? If not, let’s plug that in. And while we’re at it, maybe he should do a giveaway there, too!

Goodreads > Mailing List > eBook Promo = Book Sales

Getting the idea?

So each bigger goal is a combination of a series of smaller goals that lead you to bigger sales or whatever is it you’re trying to obtain.

Let’s say that you don’t care about book sales, but you really wrote your book to get more speaking events. What would that look like for you?

Using Speaking Events as your big picture goal, what does it take to book these? Well, you need some experience. So let’s start with maybe some smaller gigs, around town, bookstores or wherever is most appropriate to your book. Chamber of Commerce meetings perhaps? You get the idea:

Local Events = Big Awesome Speaking Gigs

Keeping events local isn’t going to land you a big keynote speech. You’ll need more for that. What about a speaker one-sheet? If you don’t have one, it’s a page all about you, your speaker topics, and your bio. Ideally, it will include blurbs from people who have heard you speak and who were in awe of your topic and delivery. So then we have:

Speaker One Sheet > Local Events = Big Awesome Speaking Gigs

But what if you need experience beyond the local events? Have you ever spoken in public before? If not, you can attend a local Toastmasters group. You don’t have to go to a ton of them, but enough to instill a sense of confidence. Now, your new action list will look like this:

Toastmasters > Speaker One Sheet > Local Events = Big Awesome Speaking Gigs

Identifying Your Goals

Running through the process in this article is one thing, but coming up with it on your own is an entirely different matter. Believe me, I appreciate how difficult this can be.

First, you need to read up on what that requires, it changes all the time, the recent Facebook changes are a prime example.

Platform research = More Social Engagement

Social engagement is about networking. Keep an eye on your competition; you’ll learn a lot about what’s working for them and which readers are drawn to their work. Plus, you can foster relationships for shared exposure. You’ll also want to figure out who you need to be following and networking with.

Networking research > Platform research = More Social Engagement

But research does nothing without some sort of structure to execute everything you’ve learned. So I suggest starting with our Monthly Book Marketing Planner to establish a recurring plan of action. It’s free!

Establish a recurring action plan > Networking research > Platform research = More Social Engagement

But a plan needs details.

So take what you learned during your research. It might be asking more specific questions, getting feedback and opinions, doing polls, posting more video, etc.

Decide exactly what you’re going to do. Create some original videos, outline your polls, create some great questions, and build out a robust and specific goal. Then, put it all in a bank you can continually feed so you’re never left staring at your computer, wondering what to post.

Create some advance content > Establish a recurring action plan > Networking research > Platform research = More Social Engagement

Now You’re Ready to Roll

So now you have a list, or a pathway or whatever you want to call it. And you should have a better idea of what you need to get to your final, big and awesome goal.

That’s the big point of this whole exercise. You really need to break down the specific things you need to do, or the pieces that are missing from your promotion, before you spend any money on book marketing.


Because you can waste a lot of money doing a lot of stuff that won’t necessarily help you gain more readers, or sell more books, or whatever your big picture goal entails.

When you break big goals into more manageable pieces, it makes it incrementally easier to manage on a day-to-day basis. And, if you’re hiring out your marketing, it’s also easier to know what you need, specifically. That way you aren’t spending money on a bunch of things that may or may not get you to where you need to be.

Putting it All Together

Goals of any kind take time to formulate.

And the micro-goals that will get you to your big picture goals will always be changing. You’ll regularly add to them, or some may fall away as you decide that you don’t really want to do them anymore.

The great thing is, you can do this for virtually anything you want to obtain. So let’s say that you want a BookBub deal, that’s awesome and certainly a great goal.

But you probably know that BookBub doesn’t take just any book. First, drum up some solid reviews. Your book also needs a good cover and by the way, you may also want to subscribe to the list you’re hoping to apply for so you can see the kinds of books that BookBub selects. This may also help you figure out what else your book needs to become more attractive to the BookBub selection process.

The bottom line is that it’s super important to have big picture goals. And if your end goal is to sell more books, book more speaking, improve your social engagement, or even secure a BookBub deal, you’ve got to break it down. By working backward to define your smaller steps, you’ll be able to really take off!


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