Welcome to 2018

Welcome to 2018’s Accountability!

Picture it: A lone figure sits at a desk one weekend evening in December, peering at formulas on an excel spreadsheet through the new glasses they’d had to purchase two months before because of their ‘screen-time headaches’. They bring a mug of tea to their lips only to find the contents horridly tepid. Not even a homemade biscuit would make it palatable.

But despite this, they’re smiling as they turn 90 degrees anti-clockwise to look at their huge whiteboard on the wall next to them. Yes, 2018 was going to be a year of real, tangible results.

Readers, that lone figure was me.*

It isn’t often that we do the obligatory ‘welcome to the New Year’ blog posts here at IQ, so I hope you’ll indulge me this one time.

Targets for 2018

As a publisher, our goal is to facilitate getting amazing literature out into the world, and making sure it’s read as widely as possible. But to do this we need to be held accountable with real, tangible targets. It isn’t enough to simply say ‘more sales!’ or ‘better engagement!’ We need to measure these goals, otherwise how will we know that we’ve hit our targets and continue to improve year-on-year?

So – because I know you’re all hopping from foot to foot in antici…

…pation (sorry not sorry), here are the IQ goals for this year. I’ll start with the big scary goals.

New Inspired Quill To Do List 2018

This To Do list took me 3 days and a lot of push-pins to achieve.

  • Unit Sales (across all titles): 4,000
  • New Releases: 5
  • Re-Releases: 2/3 (TBC)
  • Pages read [KENP]: 500,000
  • Newsletter Signups: 500
  • Newsletters Sent: 12
  • Blogger / Reviewer Signups: 200
  • Facebook Community: 1,000
  • Blogs Posted on IQ: 12 11
  • External Guest Posts (SJS): 3
  • Online Events (SJS): 3 2
  • Bookshop Outreach: 25

Yes, I know that there are some vanity metrics up there (Signups and Likes), which I normally wouldn’t consider in isolation, but we’ll be making sure that they’re high-quality and qualified leads – especially on the Blogger Newsletter.

Author Resolutions for 2018

After I sent an email asking the IQ authors about their resolutions, I received some interesting responses. Here are a few edited examples (bolding my own):

Move house, complete two marathons, finish a management diploma, keep blogging, complete the edits on book two of my quadrology, and finish the quadrology! – Matthew Munson

Finish the sequel to Inish Carraig. Polish and find a home for [my latest novel]. Consider professional opportunities in the writing world. And walk more! – Jo Zebedee

Sell a short story to a SFWA-qualifying magazine, get Old Phuul into a coherent draft, keep up my current exercise routine, and brush up my Finnish. – Daniel Stride

Complete Ruin’s Dawn and Kinship manuscripts, and begin learning Japanese & digital artwork. [I want to] be more active in supporting others, especially marginalised groups; we can always do more. And finally, to break my dependency on social media in order to increase my focus and capture calmness. – Hugo Jackson

Complete The Adventures of Alan Shaw 3, and therefore the series. But then there are a couple of poetry collections, a novella to finish and a comic book to write. – Craig Hallam

Obviously my primary goal for the year is to make it through to 2019 alive. What with asteroid scares, climate change, the ever-present risk of eldritch beasts from the depths of the metaverse breaking into our own reality, it’s clearly going to be a close call. On a more serious note, I’d like to prepare the ground for my next novel. – Mark Cantrell

My goal for 2018 is to finally finish editing Age of Magic and submit it to IQ HQ (see what I did there?) for consideration. Revenge of the sequel! – RK Summers

Publication of my short story collection. In relation to my learning through reading: To articulate (both for myself and my blog) the characteristics of my favourite novels of the year in an attempt to pin down what I can take into my own writing. – Anne Goodwin

Write a first ugly draft of one novel and revise another, write three short stories, and complete our move to Chicago. – Dorothy Winsor

Goal specificity is great

What I love about most of these is how specific they are. They don’t just say ‘write more’, they actually have a finish line in sight. Resolutions tend to be all about habits, but sometimes a better way forward is creating a goal that requires you to create good habits in the first place – essentially finding your ‘why’.

For example, ‘sell 4,000 books’ looks daunting to a micro-press like us, but we can break it down into consistent steps that will pave the way for us. In getting ourselves over that finish line, we’ll also have to work on:

  • Optimise Financial Processes
  • Optimise Marketing Processes
  • Educational Items in the cloud for authors
  • Clear out all 7 years of files (gulp!)
  • Use Paid Advertising 1 p/m
  • Optimise Website SEO
  • Optimise Meta Data for all titles

Why stop at 4,000?

Some folks may be surprised that the numbers are so low, but the point is to build on our already-strong foundations. Remember: we’re only publishing 5 new titles this year (three in the latter half of the year), so many of these sales are going to be for our back-catalogue. We’d rather do things sustainably and still be around in another 7 years. There have been a few cases where a small publisher has scaled too quickly, and have gone out of business. We are the hedgehog of the publishing industry, not the cheetah.

This number was chosen largely because it’s going to be doable even if not everything goes according to plan. (Last year, we had bigger ambitions that were then waylaid by my landing a full-time job). This is the first year that I’m putting everything into numbers, so I’m giving myself some wiggle-room. Next year, the bar is going to be raised even higher…but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself!

Don’t just write…

If you’re a writer, I’d like you to scroll back up for a moment and just re-read the author goals. You can see that there are plenty of comments that don’t link directly to their writing.

  • Complete two marathons
  • Walk more
  • Keep exercise routine
  • Reduce social media to increase focus

Physical and mental health for writers is a subject that tends to get pushed aside in favour of word-counts and publication sales. But these aspects of the craft are just as important, if not moreso. We’ll touch on this in a different post, but for now I urge you to consider your health as well as your written output for any New Year challenges you decide to set yourself.

In the meantime, you can hop over to our Facebook or Twitter pages and let us know what your goals are for 2018!

–       Sara-Jayne

* I think there’s a ‘Golden Girls’ rerun in my future.

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