I read somewheres where it’s important for writers to set goals especially goals that can be measured. So, being a writer myself, I sat myself down and thought and thought and thought. And then it come to me, my goal is for my first great novel that I jest finished to be at the top of the New York Times bestseller list in a month or too..
So, Maggie, do I have a measureable goal or not? huh? huh?
Dear Miss Not-so-Fabulous,
I do have to agree with your first remark, that it is important for writers to set measurable goals. However, and this is a biggie, that goal or goals must be REALISTIC. You have to crawl before you walk, and you have to walk before you run. Granted, a few authors throughout history have managed to achieve considerable success with their first – and sometimes only – novel, but that is quite uncommon.
Most of us poor slobs usually have a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to figuring out our craft and then applying that knowledge in a unified way to our work. Some people never get the hang of it.
As far as measurable goes, yes, you can see and therefore measure if you make the NY Times best-seller list. But that is not necessarily a realistic goal – especially in your case. A goal that is both measurable and realistic would be, for instance, getting a literary agent interested in representing you. Or, getting your novel on one of the self-publishing sites.
If you go the self-pub route, a very good measurement stick would be how many copies you sell of your first novel, second novel, etc. as well as whether your second novel outsells the first one, and by how much.
Expecting to get your first novel on a best-seller list, especially when you obviously are not well-versed even in the simple mechanics of writing (based on how you wrote your letter to me), is certainly measurable but definitely not realistic. I strongly recommend querying agents. Maybe one of them who has too much time on her hands and feels sorry for you will respond with some, hopefully, not-too-negative-sounding feedback. That may happen before hell freezes over. Then again, maybe not.
Paying one of the many self-pub companies to market your work is probably your best option. Unfortunately, those people don’t normally give feedback, just take your money and put your work out there in the public eye. Frankly, though, I doubt someone with your not-so-modest ego could handle the nasty mail that would result from taking that course.
Even good writers occasionally get nasty mail. You would probably get dire threats from those unfortunate enough to read your novel.