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Preparing Your Author Business for the New Year

As we push into 2023, here are some writing tips to help you prepare for the new year.

When the new year comes around it can be an exhilarating and unsettling time, especially for us authors. If you are an indie author looking to take your career to the next level, you are likely thinking about how you want to advance your business, your writing, and your knowledge of the publishing world.

Some people enjoy pantsing through life (we hope everyone wears pants in public settings), whereas others prefer to be meticulous plotters of their days and goals. No matter your planning style, today we will cover some overarching strategies that can help you reflect and set the right goals this upcoming year.

Unlike many traditional career paths, there is no set degree path that leads you to level up your author business. There is no one way to write, publish, and market your books. It is this freedom that makes being an author such an amazing business, but it is just as easy to be chained by your own ambition, setting the wrong goals or no goals at all, which slowly increases your stress and makes this dream less enjoyable than you desired.

So let’s figure out how we can maximize the life that we want to live as authors with the right kind of planning.


Not everyone finds having targets or goals to hit necessary in their writing lives. However, research suggests that those who can vividly describe or picture their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve their goals.

But what does it take to set good goals? This is where the SMART Framework comes in or the idea that we should set goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound.

Creating stories is the most important thing we can do as writers. If there are no stories for us to share with our readers, then the job of being an author will remain elusive.

However, planning out our stories can be difficult. Some of us prefer detailed outlines that run beat-by-beat through our stories, while others prefer to operate as discovery writers. Orna Ross, from the Alliance of Independent Authors, recommends the F.R.E.E. writing framework or drafting in a way that is fast, raw, and exact but easy. 

When it comes to making this drafting SMART, we want to balance setting boundaries and word-count goals with our creative needs and wellness.

I recommend setting monthly writing progress goals along with weekly and daily ones. You can have specific word count goals or a specific number of chapters you want to produce during a certain time period. I know for myself there have been some days that I can fall into the trap of subconsciously trying to hit a word-count goal, and dragging out a scene longer than it needs to be. Likewise, when I set chapter goals, sometimes I can be very hard on myself when a section of the story is taking longer than I anticipated, and end up falling behind on my goals.

How do we balance creativity with a set routine, process, and goals? The answer for all of us will look different. But when mapping out your writing goals I recommend thinking about the following:


Set goals and a writing process that works for you and not one that you see “everyone else” doing. Some people write a book a month and love it. Others wake up at 5 am to get the words in and others do it when the kids go to sleep. Reflect on your lifestyle and what works best for you instead of following a herd that may not be best for your personality and wellness.


Set OKRs, or objective key results for your writing life, that are specific and quantifiable. One of the few things we can control in our lives as writers is the progress through our stories. Make creating your North Star, but don’t get too down on yourself when life gets in the way. For Microsoft’s Viva Goals framework, achieving your goals 70% of the time is considered a solid outcome, so don’t be afraid to set challenging goals that you occasionally fall a bit short of.


Planning out production for the next year and booking times with editors, cover designers and other contractors can be very useful. However, do plan some buffer between your writing targets and hard deadlines such as pre-orders. In one year I wrote 9 books and found myself constantly feeling stressed by pre-order deadlines. If you can, it’s nice to give yourself some room to breathe and flexibility for other projects (and life events) to come up.


It’s tempting to want to 10x your writing business, no matter what level you are at, in the year ahead. For many of you, 2023 may be the year you achieve tremendous financial success as a writer. But when mapping out your business-specific goals, I encourage you to think a bit more holistically.

What do you want to spend your time on outside of writing? How much time do you have to allocate to tasks like marketing, publishing, and community-building? What tangible financial goal would you like to achieve by the end of the year, and what will it take for you to achieve that?

These are all big questions, so if I’m inducing a headache in you, I apologize. But these are the uncomfortable questions we have to ask ourselves as business owners. Writing is a business that requires an upfront investment of capital in the form of time or money and oftentimes both. 

In terms of investing upfront capital into your business, Tom Ashford has created a great guide on how much you can expect to invest into publishing your first book. It might be more reasonable than you think. 

There’s also the investment of time and capital to market our books. With communities like TikTok for Authors, it is more than possible to create videos about your books and reach an audience with a minimal investment of money (although this can take a good deal of time). Or you can use paid advertising and participate in a community like the Facebook Ads Expedition to reliably reach readers with your books.

The key here is mapping out how much money and time you have to invest in your publishing business. It can be tempting to use credit cards or pull all-nighters to achieve our goals, telling ourselves that one day, once we have made it, it will all be worth it.

But this kind of thinking is dangerous and has gotten me into a lot of trouble myself by investing more of my savings than I should into publishing expenses and burning out from overworking myself.

We can avoid this by creating business rules and expectations for ourselves that are grounded in processes rather than external metrics or pressure. Here are my three top tips for doing this…


For each calendar month or quarter, plan out the time and capital you have to invest in your business. The amount of time has to ensure you maintain a good sleep schedule, can exercise and spend time with your family and have some buffer time for things in life to come up. I’d also look to divide this time into segments with your allotments for writing time, research time, marketing time, and operations and publishing time. 

For the capital portion of this equation, it’s a common misconception that the more money you spend the better your business will do. But many times for start-up businesses having lots of money to spend can actually negatively impact outcomes. By default, I recommend boot-strapping your business or investing in business growth from existing revenues. However, before you can start generating income from publishing, there will likely be some out-of-pocket expenses. 

With that, I recommend being as conservative as possible and using something like Joe Solari’s free Author Capital Planner that will help you to plan out your publishing business expenses over the course of years.


The oft-cited quote “You overestimate what can happen in a month but underestimate what can happen in 10 years” is very true in publishing. Plan out three separate financial forecasts. 

Your worst-case scenario. This is a conservative estimate that would require a few big things going wrong in the year such as a failed marketing plan and maybe one or two fewer book releases than planned. I recommend you still ensure your business is profitable at this worst-case outcome, or at a minimum, requiring an amount of cash out of pocket that you could easily afford for many years in a row. 

I also recommend plotting out your target scenario for revenue, or a more realistic outcome based on your investment of time and money. 

And then a best-case scenario. You can get lofty here, that’s okay. As we learned earlier, those who articulate their goals are 20% to 40% more likely to achieve them, so don’t be afraid to share your dreams on a piece of paper or spreadsheet.

With these three scenarios, it’s important to remember to budget for the worst and hope for the best. And most likely, you will end up somewhere in between :).


Focus is everything. A lot of times we feel like we have to do everything as authors. When in reality, mastering one marketing channel is all we need to grow our business. 

If you are great at Facebook Ads, then that alone can begin to generate a hefty income. If TikTok is your thing, then do that. If neither is your thing, then lean into something like your blog, in-person signings, or networking with other authors and reading creators. 

Only you know what works best for you, and oftentimes even we aren’t sure what’s best for ourselves. As important as planning is, it’s far more beneficial to have a bias-to-action as an author entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to focus on one thing and then switch to another thing if you find it’s not working for you. My advice is to stick with something for at least 30 to 90 days before moving on to another marketing or promotional method.


The self-publishing industry changes fast and there’s always more to learn about our craft as writers.

It can be tempting to think we have to learn it all every year. If you are just starting out, courses like LaunchPad can be valuable resources to structure a lot of your learning and give you a great start as an indie author.

If you are more advanced in your author education, my advice is to continue investing in learning more, but not to get caught into the trap of endlessly learning without taking action.

Thus, I recommend prioritizing one area of your craft you want to improve in a calendar year and one area you want to learn more about in the publishing business (maybe a specific area like Amazon Ads or a broad scope of a trend in digital media such as the Creator Economy).


The most often overlooked area of preparing for a new year in publishing is regularly reflecting on your progress. I recommend judging your progress by qualitative factors such as your personal enjoyment and quality of life as an author. However, having quantitative metrics such as Key Performance Indicators is also helpful.

I recommend having one to two KPIs for each area of your author life. One for your writing progress. Maybe how many books you want to write during the year. One for your publishing business, such as the number of book sales or newsletter subscribers. It’s also helpful to have a KPI that you can control such as creating one TikTok per day and analyzing them. Or participating in a certain number of newsletter slots. 

By comparing your KPI for engaging in a marketing activity with your marketing result, you can see where the problem lies in driving your desired output a bit easier.

I also recommend having a KPI that can judge your educational progress such as the number of craft books read or completing a specific course for authors.

Ultimately, it’s uncomfortable to reflect on our goals, especially when we know they aren’t going as planned. But this is the most important thing we can do.

Setting goals isn’t a robotic process of input and output. It’s a feedback loop where we are supposed to analyze what has happened and how we can improve with each reflection. Thus, don’t be afraid to iterate and adjust your goals for the year every 90 days. This is not only natural but a good thing. Even if your goal has adjusted to you writing less in the year or switching up your marketing activity, these “failures” are all learning lessons to help you be a better author.

And if you want to see one prominent creator who makes $3 million per year reflect on his “failures” for the year, you should watch this video from Ali Abdaal. Even the biggest and best creators in the world are constantly adjusting and learning more about themselves and the creative process.

So give yourself permission to do the same. From these challenging moments will come true personal, creative, and business growth. Cheers to a new year full of rich experiences, memories, and even richer stories for all of you.

Michael Evans

Michael Evans

Michael Evans is the author of over a dozen sci-fi thriller novels, a Harvard student, and the co-founder and CEO of Ream, a subscription platform for fiction authors. In addition, he’s also the author of Creator Economy for Authors: A Guide to the Future of Publishing.
You can connect with him here.

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