When setting goals of any kind, it is wise to start with S.M.A.R.T.  goals. You may have encountered this goal-setting paradigm for your company or even your personal life. Setting goals for writing is also a valuable way of ensuring the best possible results while you are writing your book and success once your book is published. By creating goals for the end product, you define how you write it, the timing of the publication, and how you market your book to those who are waiting to benefit from what you offer. Goal setting is among the most important parts of a successful book project and deserves your time and attention before you put pen to paper, so to speak.


If your goal is to write a book for your own benefit, bask in the joy of writing. But if you hope it will impact your business or life as an author, you need to define your goals. The purpose of getting specific before you write is to lay down the direction and path you will take. You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” The same is true for writing a book.

If you’re writing to impact your business, is your goal to increase sales, gain market share, decrease expenses, or something else? What does your business look like once you achieve those goals? Will you hire more employees, change the direction of the business, or will it allow you to interact with a different group of people? Imagine your workday, workspace, and the people around you.

Does your book launch a career as a writer, keynote speaker, workshop leader, or coach? What does it look like and feel like?

What does it look like for you personally? Does it give you more free time or renewed energy to work harder and with it feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment? Does it align with a larger purpose or a burning desire in your life?

Write it down. Find pictures or graphics of what success looks like for you. The more clearly you can visualize what you want, the easier it will be to define the steps to get you there.


The second part of S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting is the ability to measure your goal. You need to know if the path you are on is working, right? Will you measure success in terms of number of books sold, number of customers, increase in sales, or amount of speaking engagements offered? The use of concrete numbers helps to focus on the goals and provides feedback along the journey. It will help you map out the milestones necessary to get there, as well. A large goal with smaller steps along the way leads to a successful outcome.

While I agree wholeheartedly with setting measurable goals, they are not the only successes you should enjoy as a result of writing a book. The personal satisfaction and joy that comes with publishing your book are harder to measure but no less valuable. Your contribution to society as a result of your insight and wisdom or the fulfillment of your life’s purpose cannot be measured in a pie chart or spreadsheet. And those are things that make the process of writing, and the book itself, invaluable.


Setting out to be a professional football player at age 50 is not an attainable goal. No matter how much you wish it to be so, it’s not going to happen. How realistic are your goals for your current situation? Can you devote the time and resources necessary to achieve your goals? Like million-dollar businesses, best-selling books don’t just happen. Consider the steps needed to obtain your goal and what adjustments to are necessary to make it a reality (travel, networking, working more hours, investment of capital, etc.). That’s not to say you shouldn’t reach for something great. You should! Just make sure you understand what is involved prior to going down that road.


This part might be a no-brainer. Your goals should be relevant to your career as an author or business. But, how often do we get taken off track by the bright, shiny object syndrome? We find the next best thing that takes up our time and diverts our energy away from the very mission and purpose of our companies. To make the greatest impact with your book, it should be in service to your mission. Look at the mission statement of your writing business and align the goals for the book to fulfill and reinforce the mission. What if you don’t have a mission statement? Check out this article for writing a mission statement.


An essential part of setting goals is setting a timetable for achieving the goals. Deadlines help us to set priorities for each step and keep us moving incrementally. This piece is essential for writing the book and for attaining success as a result of publishing a book. While the schedule may change as life happens, but it forces an intentional consideration of short and long-term priorities.

It’s not enough to define measurable outcomes. It is important to evaluate actual results against desired results and make adjustments along the way. With a schedule in place, you ensure that it happens. Learn more about making time for writing.

Take me inside your head. What goals do you have for your writing business?


Need help setting goals for writing? Start here.

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