Last year, the team at I_AM Self-Publishing created our first ever author goals worksheet, which we shared right here on, and it was the most popular piece of content we have ever created. This year, we have gone back to the drawing board, read up on the advice from top goal achievers and successful entrepreneurs, and put together a new 30-page guide and workbook – Author Goals: Your guide to achieving more  which you can download here.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” - Tony Robbins, bestselling author & entrepreneur

Why bestselling authors set goals

Writing, publishing and marketing a book well takes time and effort. The authors I know are busy people who often juggle this with their other work, as well as family and general life commitments. Also, as creatives, authors can sometimes have lots of ideas that pull them in lots of different directions, but struggle to concentrate solidly on just one and can, therefore, get frustrated by their lack of progress. Not to mention how easy it is to get distracted by social media etc. when you set aside some “author time”.

The best way to succeed is to set clearly defined goals and then work towards them. Bestselling authors do this because it makes them think very specifically about what they actually want to achieve; it keeps them focussed purely on that aim and the goal means more when it is achieved.

Avoid goal-failure with our 3-stage plan

However, the reason most people fail to achieve their goals is because they don’t set sensible goals to begin with. They rush into setting an ambitious target without thinking about why they want it, what they are prepared to sacrifice, how committed they are and, sometimes, whether it is at all realistic (with a reasonable amount of time and hard work). Avoid that with our 3-stage plan.

STAGE 1 - Vision: where do you want to be?

The first thing you need is a vision – this is the bigger picture that all your goals must support. For some, it might be to be a bestselling, well-reviewed author; for others, it might be to be the first author to challenge a particular idea. Whatever your vision is, you need to make sure that all your goals get you one step closer to it.


I’ve said it before, but the SMART system is a fantastic way of checking that your goals are sensible and will work for you. A goal such as, “to be a better writer” is very vague and impossible to track, whereas “write 2 chapters a month” is much clearer.

Specific. Think carefully about what precisely you want and why.

Measurable. Something like ‘increase my online presence’ is a noble intention but a useless author goal, as you can’t measure it. Whereas ‘to get 10 more Twitter followers every week’ is much better as it is measurable.

Attainable. Don’t set a goal that is too difficult to achieve, as this will only serve to demotivate you.

Relevant. Each goal that you set should contribute to your overall vision, e.g. if it was to be a successful author then make sure all your goals feed back in to that.

Time-based. Committing to a deadline will help focus your efforts. Break the larger timeframe down into smaller chunks, e.g. months or weeks.

STAGE 3: Set your goals

Now you have a handle on the basics, you are ready to delve a little deeper and put an action plan together. This will involve assessing your obstacles, identifying the changes you need to make and giving yourself some accountability and motivation.

Download and complete the worksheets in our free workbook: Author Goals: Your guide to achieving more to be walked through the whole process.

Get your free goal workbook here

We show you the philosophy and practice of successful author goal setting, with worked examples and worksheets to help you organise both your time and priorities, and ensure that you dedicate your energies towards what you really want to achieve. Plus, we’ve put together some bonus tips on mindset, motivation, rewards and how to cope with setbacks to keep you on track when you feel demotivated.

Let me know what your author goals are in the comments below. Good luck!

Leila Dewji is co-founder of I_AM Self-Publishing, and has been helping authors to professionally self-publish for many years.