Fauzia Burke

Author . Book Publicist . Publishing Consultant . Speaker

Setting Realistic Goals for your Book

Whenever I meet with a potential client, I like to ask him what his publishing goals are. More often than not, I get an answer like, “I want my book to hit a national best seller list” or “I want a 6-figure advance on my next book.” While it’s completely normal to have high aspirations, I tend to steer authors toward something more achievable, where actual steps can be made toward achieving that goal. Do you want to double your newsletter subscribers? Or get 100 book reviews on Amazon? Or sell 20% more than your last book?

When it comes to book publishing, and life, the important thing is to set your goals, and then move forward, taking the steps to achieve those goals. Too many times we think about our dreams, but then do nothing to achieve them.

In 1995, I was working at a book publishing company and saw the World Wide Web for the first time. As a marketer and publicist, I knew instinctively that the Internet was a game changer. After spending a few weeks exploring the early days of the Web, I went to my boss, whom I adored, and said, “Greg, the Internet will change everything. I think we should figure out how to use it to promote books.” His response was a turning point in my career. He said, “Oh no, I think it's like the Beta tape. It will go away.”

At that moment, I had to make a decision: stay with a job and boss and company I loved and continue with business as usual, or quit to discover the marketing possibilities of the Web. I decided to resign. It was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made, but one I’ve never regretted. Thankfully, my former boss hired me as a consultant because although he did not know the Web, he did know me. To this day I am grateful that he was willing to invest in me.

The risk-taking bug hit me again when, in 2015, my husband and I made the decision to fulfill our long-held dream of living in southern California. Our children were both off at college, our jobs allowed us the flexibility to work from the West coast, and so we just made the leap. Was it a risk? Absolutely. Am I happy I took the chance? You bet.

When thinking about taking a potential risk, I like to follow these steps:
  1. Set your goal, and make sure it’s measurable and achievable. It’s all well and good to come up with “stretch goals” (like being a #1 New York Times bestseller), but you also need to think about goals that are both achievable and measurable, like selling 10,000 copies of your new book, or gaining 25% more Twitter followers.
  2. Think about the steps needed to achieve your goal, but don’t get caught up in the planning. In some ways, the internet can be paralyzing with all its information. Yes, you should spend time writing down the actionable steps you want to take to achieve your goal, but don’t spend too much time in this stage because you need to...
  3. Move forward with your plan! This is the most important part--as Nike says, Just do it! Start taking the steps that will help you achieve your goal. Do you want to sell more copies of your book? Then start promoting it via social media (with links to purchase), ask for reviews, and book speaking gigs. You must start moving if you want anything to happen.
  4. Evaluate. If something isn’t going how you expected, don’t just throw your hands up, fix it. Are you running Facebook ads that aren’t performing? Instead of scrapping the ads altogether, change the copy and experiment with different images.
  5. Learn something. What happened? Did it work? Chances are some parts of your plan worked stunningly well and helped you achieve part of your goal. That’s great, keep that in your pocket for next time. And those things that didn’t work? Even the most colossal failures can teach us something for next time.

I’ve lived a life of taking risks, and more often than not, they’ve paid off. But I’ve also had my share of failures. But through it all, I’ve learned to just leap, and trust that through hard work and perseverance, things will work out. Had I stayed in my corporate publishing job, I would almost certainly still be living in the New York area, heading towards another bleak New Jersey winter instead of the sun-filled California adventure we’re currently living. I started my company in May 1995. Next year, in May 2020, FSB Associates will celebrate 25 years in business—time to make goals for the next 25 years!


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© 2020 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.