Thursday, November 10, 2016
I had been writing for twelve years with three traditionally published books behind me when I prayerfully made the decision to go indie in mid-2014. The whole concept was daunting. I researched, watched others, prepared manuscripts, and prayed.
One of the keys I picked up was the necessity of a business plan for authors to be reviewed regularly. This made total sense, so I downloaded a template and began to fill it in. Some of it was easy. What were the products for sale? Contemporary romance novels by Valerie Comer.
But when I got to the section on financial planning, I was at a complete loss. My first traditionally published book was still selling, albeit slowly, but my other two had been rights-returned. How could I guess how many copies I might sell on my own when they’d done so poorly for the publisher?
I had to put something in the blank. What were my goals? I knew I would release three books almost simultaneously (remember I’d gotten rights back!) and two more in the remainder of the year. So my first goal was that, from the middle of July to the end of December, I’d have averaged one e-book sale per day.
Thank the Lord sales soon blew that conservative goal out of the water. And then I made a new goal: match what I’d made at my previous 30-hour-a-week minimum wage job. God blew me past that one before the end of the first year as well.
The point isn’t to brag. The point is that I had a goal, and I knew when I’d succeeded. I was ecstatic to average sales of more than a book a day for several months. It was success. If my averages were at that level in 2016, I would be crushed. I no longer think of that level as success.
The thing with goals is that you decide where to set them. You are in control of what success looks like. Then you can choose to raise the bar and shoot for a more difficult goal, to mix a few metaphors.
“They” say to set goals that are achievable, but a stretch. If my goal was still to sell one e-book a day, I’d be settling. There’d be no stretch, no drive, no motivation.
God put that goal on my heart last winter, and I achieved it, along with eleven other authors in a box set built specifically with that goal in mind. The time was right.
I’m human. I tend to rely on my own ‘wisdom,’ set my own targets, and work in my own strength to achieve them. But then God gives me a nudge and reminds me what His goals are. While He’s indulged me some of these personal dreams, I am successful when I’m aligned to His plan, not when He’s applied the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval onto my own plan.
What is biblical success? Living for God. With God. Immersed in His will, each and every day. Using the talents and time He’s given me with His ultimate purposes in mind: to make me more like Him, and to minister to others.
Fred Smith put it this way in Christianity Today: “The person doing the most with what he's got is truly successful. Not the one who becomes the richest or most famous, but the one who has the closest ratio of talents received to talents used.”
How about you? How do you measure success? How often do you revisit your goals?
Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She has been called “a stellar storyteller” as she injects experience laced with humor into her green clean romances. Visit her at ValerieComer.com.
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