Setting SMART goals for 2017

December 27, 2016

When I started setting real, tangible SMART goals in 2015, my career saw hockey stick, exponential growth. Before then, I had a set of goals that I wanted to attain, but they were usually either too easy or impossibly hard to achieve. Most importantly, there was no way to measure success so I usually abandoned my goals before too long.

Now that I use SMART goals to set realistic expectations, I’ve been able to hit almost all of my goals in the past two years.

So what are SMART goals? SMART is an acronym for goals that are:







Before I tell you my goals, let’s talk about each part of a SMART goal and explain why they are so important in determining your success. For this example, let’s assume your goal is to finish the first draft of a novel in 2017. We’ll take each part of the SMART goal separately and break out why it’s so important to make that goal happen.


Most people don’t put much thought into creating their goals. Their goals might be as simple as I want to write more in 2017. This is a big problem, because MORE is not very specific when it comes to goal setting. If you have no data from 2016, you have no idea what MORE means or how you can accomplish writing more in 2017, nor can you motivate yourself to just write MORE.

However, if your goal is “I want to finish the first draft of a 70,000-word novel in 2017” that is a very specific goal. You can always look back at this goal and see whether you are moving toward or away from it.


The second part of a SMART goal is that the goal is measurable. We talked about this above, but as my friend Tyler James says, “what you measure you can manage”. I would add to that by saying what you manage you can attain. Going back to our example above, you can measure the goal of completing a 70,000-word novel.

That is a very measurable goal. You can make a plan for each step of the goal and know exactly how much you need to get done each month, each week, and each day to stay on track to accomplish your goal.


The third part of a SMART goal is that it is attainable. For me, this is the most important part of making a SMART goal because if something isn’t attainable you become discouraged and give up on it. So let’s take our original goal. Is it possible to finish a 70,000-word novel in a year? Well of course. Many people have achieved this goal before. Maybe writers compete in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which is a month dedicated to writing the first draft of a 55,000-word novel. So yes, finishing a 70,000-word novel is a very attainable goal. However, writing a 200,000-word novel might not be in the realm of possibility for your goal. That’s why it’s so important to make sure these goals are attainable.


The fourth part of a SMART goal is that it’s realistic for you to achieve. While attainable deals with whether the goal is possible, realistic deals with whether you can accomplish your goal. What is realistic for you might not be realistic for somebody else. If my goal was to run a 100-mile ultramarathon this year, that would be unrealistic for me because I can’t even run 1 mile without getting winded. However, running a half marathon might be a good goal, depending on my fitness level. That doesn’t mean I won’t make running one of my goals for the year. It just means that I need to be realistic with my goal based on what I can achieve.

Going back to our goal, writing a 70,000-word novel is something most people can achieve in a year, as it is less than 200 words a day, or about the size of a long Facebook post.


The final part of a SMART goal is that it’s time bound. If you want to write a 70,000-word novel eventually, that isn’t something that can be measured. However, if you set a goal of one year to do it, then you can work toward that goal.

Does our goal fit?

Let’s analyze our own goal and see if it’s a SMART goal.

Is finishing the first draft of a 70,000-word novel in 2017 a specific goal? I would say so.

Is it a measureable goal? For sure.

Is it an attainable goal and a realistic goal? Yes and yes. Many people have done it in the past which means you can too.

Is it a time bound goal? Again that’s a yes because we’ve given ourselves a year to accomplish it.

Therefore, it is a SMART goal, and much easier to measure and manage than the standard “I want to write MORE next year” that becomes the goal of so many writers.

A SMART goal can be used for anything, though. You can use it to lose weight (I want to lose 25 pounds this year by going to the GYM three times a week and only eating one piece of candy a week), or you can use it to establish a money goal (I want to save $300/mo by removing alcohol and eating out from my budget). SMART goals can be used to accomplish any task.

What are my SMART goals?  


Now that we’ve talked about SMART goals in a general sense, it’s time to give you my goals for 2017. This is more for me than it is for you, honestly, because I want to be accountable for accomplishing my goals. I also want you to tell me if you think these goals are SMART or not.

Goal #1: Launch four new titles in 2017


My first goal for this year is to publish four projects in 2017. They are my first anthology Monsters and Other Very Scary Shit, my first non-fiction book Sell Your Soul: How to Build your Creative Brand, my fifth novel The Vessel, and the second graphic novel that I drew, How Not to Invade Earth.


This past year I published Katrina Hates the Dead, Gherkin Boy and the Dollar of Destiny, I Can’t Stop Tooting: A Love Story, My Father Didn’t Kill Himself, and Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs.


That was five books in 2016, so I know that setting a publishing goal of four books is attainable and realistic. However, my additional goal is to do a much better job with each launch that I did last year, where I often didn’t give each launch the justice it deserves, especially online, which goes to my next goal.

Goal #2: Receive 100 new 5-Star Amazon reviews for our books


My second goal is to exponentially increase the amount of Amazon 5-star reviews our books receive. I completely ignored/abandoned Amazon this year to my detriment. Our online sales are abysmal and online sales are essential to the growth of Wannabe Press. 

We sell a lot of books at shows, and our goal is to transition those sales more online in the coming years. One way we do that is to set a goal to increase the reviews of our books. One of the reasons we flounder online is because we have very few reviews, especially compared to how many people buy our books. In 2017, I am committed to getting our books a total of 100 new reviews from fans of my work so that our online sales can rise to the level of our convention and Kickstarter sales.

Goal #3: Sell 3,000 total book units with an average sale price of $26.50


My third goal is to increase the total number of book units sold by Wannabe Press. Three thousand might not seem like that many units to set as a goal, but for us it would be game changing. This year, we sold over 2,000 book units across 10 titles with a minimum sale of $10 and an average sale of $16.50.

My goal for the next year is to increase the number of units sold to 3,000 and increase the average sale to $26.50. The reason I don’t want to go higher than 3,000 units is because all of our books coming out this coming year have a minimum price of $20, and I would like to get our average sale price up to $26.50, which is $10.00 higher than it was this year. If we can accomplish those two things, our revenue will more than double.

Goal #4: Increase our total mailing lists to over 10,000 people with a 20% open rate


My fourth goal for the year is to increase our mailing list exponentially. Currently, our mailing lists have a total subscriber base of 7,500 people across 10 different lists. My goal is to increase that to over 10,000 people and increase our open rate from 13% to 20%. Twenty percent is a lofty goal, but I think it is attainable if with the new changes I’ve recently made to my mailing list.

Goal #5: Increase online sales to $2,000 a month, equivalent with convention and in person sales from 2016.


My fifth goal is to increase online sales in 2017 so they are equivalent with convention sales from 2016. I cannot keep attending 40+ shows a year forever, and the only way to make sure I can cut back my convention schedule is to make a goal to increase online sales.

Right now, I make roughly six sales a month online, with a total revenue of $18. This is going to take a lot of work and is my biggest mission in 2017. Once this goal is achieved then I believe my business will be completely sustainable. These sales can include courses and books, along with live seminars.

So what do you think? Are those SMART goals? Are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound? I certainly think so, but let me know by leaving a comment.

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Happy New Year everybody! May 2017 be the year you break through to the next level!


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