Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
I have a habit of labeling each year that goes by. It’s a way to help me focus and remain excited about what I’m trying to accomplish. Although I started 2022 well, things quickly fell apart for the Year of the Book. So, we’re giving it another shot for 2023.
Whether you’re a freelance writer, blogger, or aspiring author, you can play along in this challenge as well. In fact, freelance writers could probably increase their marketability with a few books under their belt.
What is the Year of the Book?
Over the last few years, labeling each year has helped motivate me to accomplish some great things. It’s a way to keep reminding myself throughout the year that I want to meet certain goals and aspirations.
By giving the year a “theme,” you’re giving it power. You’re giving it a life of its own, which can empower you to accomplish more of your goals. As you continue to remind yourself, “this is the year of X,” you’re more likely to take steps to see that theme through.
The idea for 2022 was to publish more books, hence the name.
Sadly, I had a series of unfortunate events that slowed progress quite a bit. And because I often keep attempting challenges until I complete them, I am giving the Year of the Book another go.
It’s planned as a sequel that will be superior to the original, much like “Aliens” is to “Alien.”
Why Does Writing More Books Matter?
Most people who visit WriterSanctuary.com are looking for ways to make money from home, mostly from freelance writing. In reality, there are plenty of ways writers of all kinds can make money outside of client work and content mills.
In fact, writing books about your abilities, knowledge, and expertise could help you land more lucrative contracts while generating a bit of cash on the side.
For example, let’s say that I’m a freelance writing expert. Writing a book teaching people how to get to where I am today would help a lot of people looking to break into the market. Not to mention demonstrating to clients my expertise and background.
This is the story of how I got started as a freelance writer, how I grew it into the career I have today, and how I did it all while facing one of the darkest times of my life.
Yes, this is a shameless plug.
Plus, having a few published works on your writing resume could make you more attractive to higher-paying employers. Especially if you write a book that seems to do well on sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Does Giving the Year a Theme Really Work?
One of the hardest parts about being a writer working from home is maintaining motivation. As a freelancer or blogger, you’re only accountable to yourself. This means you need to find methods that keep you creating content.
Giving the year a theme, such as writing a book or two, can help inspire you to get more out of the next 365 days.
However, the theme only works if you’re continuously getting yourself excited to see the outcome. Get it into your mind that this is the year for X to happen in your life.
For instance, I am already getting myself excited to publish at least three books next year. I’ve already made additions to my spreadsheet for 2023 complete with highlighting word-count goals and monthly productivity records for me to beat.
The bottom line is that you need to get yourself excited and remain positive. Though, that’s true with just about any challenge you set for yourself.
How to Set Goals for the Year of the Book?
Setting up a challenge is not all that difficult. You simply want to do more than what you’re currently capable of doing. The whole purpose of a challenge is to “challenge” yourself.
This means you don’t want to make goals too easy. On the flip side, you don’t want to make them too difficult, either. By striving for something you’re not capable of doing, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
The end result will be giving up due to frustration.
If you’d like to follow along, here are the exact steps I’m taking:
1. Decide on an Outlet or Two – or Three
There are a lot of platforms available to publish your books. So, you need to decide what kind of writing you’re planning on doing and what the ultimate goal is for each book.
For instance, when you’re testing the waters and trying to figure out your style, using something like Wattpad or Inkitt could be beneficial. You won’t make money publishing your work, but they can serve as a way to get in some good practice.
Plus, I’ve found some people to have some valuable critiques and insights into how I could improve my writing. I’ve yet to meet a troll on Wattpad.
Also, you can use these platforms to build up an audience and market yourself as an author. In fact, I sold quite a few copies of A Freelancer’s Tale as soon as it went live to those who follow such accounts.
When you’re ready to publish your book, you can use platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing or other self-publishing platforms.
A few places I intend on publishing for the Year of the Book include:
- Kindle Vella (Amazon serial stories)
- Barnes & Noble
- Vocal (short stories)
2. Find Writing Tools You Enjoy
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using LibreOffice, Word, or other word processors to write your book. However, I tend to gravitate more toward apps that are specifically geared toward authors.
Currently, I’m really enjoying using the Reedsy book editor. It’s free to use and lets you easily set up goals for your manuscript. Not to mention all of the goodies you’d need in a good program such as the front and back matter, editing tools, notes, and more.
Find something you enjoy using and run with it.
3. Base Goals on Your Personal Productivity
Creating the goals for your challenge is a bit tricky when comparing one year to another. This is one of the many reasons why I use my spreadsheet to keep track of my progress.
At any given time, I can tell you exactly how many words I’ve written this year and how much time I’ve put into writing books.
For this Year of the Book, I’m working towards increasing my word count from the previous year by 300%.
Since this year hasn’t ended yet, I won’t know for sure how much I’ll have to write until January 1st. But I can already tell that it’s going to be pretty close to 400,000 words based on this year’s productivity.
But what if you don’t know how many words you’ve written this year? In that case, think about how many books you’d like to publish. Then, multiply that number by 70,000.
That is roughly how many words go into a range of book genres. The perfect length for genres depends greatly on the style, author, and audience. But this is a good average-ish number to consider.
So, if you want to publish two books this year, that would mean you’d need 140,000 words. When you break that down, it only comes up to 385 words per day. You could probably do that before lunch.
4. Schedule Appropriate Time
One of the more difficult aspects of writing books is making sure you have adequate time available. When you’re as busy as I am, it can be pretty difficult to squirrel away enough time every day.
I use Asana to set up blocks of time in my day, and it’s made a vast improvement in my productivity over the past few years.
You don’t need to go to such lengths, but time management is going to play a massive role in the Year of the Book. If it’s that important to you, you’ll need to prioritize the challenge in your day.
Consider this: if you only focus on publishing one book, whether it’s on Amazon or Wattpad, you’ll only need roughly 192 words per day. You could probably crank that out in less than 15 minutes.
Can you set aside 15 minutes to make sure you have at least one book published this year?
5. Motivate Yourself to Write Your Book This Year
Having the theme in mind can help inspire you to get the ball rolling and be a bit productive throughout the year. Nevertheless, 365 days is a long time for one thing to motivate you.
It’s a good idea to find a few other things that can keep the fire burning all year long.
What motivates is different for everyone. But a few things that get me rolling every morning include:
- A good walk with some energizing music.
- Keeping track of my word count every day as a “high score” to break the next.
- Imagining adding the next book to my repertoire. (daydreaming of success)
- Hang out with other inspirational authors on social media, or join some writer groups on Facebook.
- Visualizing where I want to be this time next year. (more daydreaming)
In the end, no goal is going to be successful without the means to motivate yourself. The trick is to find those few things that really light your fire for the long term.
6. Keep Track of Your Progress
One of the selling points for me when it comes to Reedsy or even NaNoWriMo.org is the ability to track my progress. Not only will this show how many words I’ve put towards my books, but both of these platforms show when the book will be done according to my progress.
Keeping track like this also helps you establish deadlines for yourself. When do you want your book available for others to read?
Now, when it comes to personal deadlines, you want to challenge yourself to be done by then. However, you also don’t want to be too hard on yourself if you go beyond your perceived timeframe.
When you’re writing from home, all kinds of things can interfere. Job, family, school, and more obviously take priority. If things move your publishing date, such is life.
This is why it’s important to make sure you have adequate time for your goals.
In my case, it’s one of the prime reasons why I set up my day in Asana. I set up blocks of time for everything I need to manage and then set book-writing goals for the year based on what is realistic on average.
7. Don’t Forget to Market Your Book
Marketing your book can be done in a myriad of ways. Though, you can start right now before you even finish chapter one, especially if you have a following on social media.
Case in point, I have several people eager to own their own hardcover of my next book. I’ve been talking about it since I started writing. If you want some quick sales from day one, it’s good to drum up some excitement during the process of writing.
Plus, getting others excited can help keep you motivated. Now, there is a sense of urgency to finish on time, which is something you don’t have when simply writing for yourself.
The whole purpose of writing a book is so people will read your story. But how will they read it if they don’t know the book even exists? Even if you only publish the manuscript on Watt or Inkitt, make sure you promote it often.
When you’re trying to make money from self-publishing, marketing is probably one of the more difficult things to master. Yet, simply talking about your book on social media could inspire people to buy or read the tale.
Need Book Ideas This Year?
What if you don’t know what you should write? A lot of new authors struggle with writer’s block of all kinds, including not knowing where to start. That’s when things like writing prompts come into play.
These will help you get those creative juices flowing while opening the doors to a slew of ideas. And you don’t necessarily need to use writing prompts to craft the entire manuscript for your novel.
For example, you could set up an account on Wattpad, Vocal, or Inkitt and just use Reedsy writing prompts as short stories to get you started.
You could also use something like a prompt generator, which has the potential to help you set up a completely unique and randomized plot line. Once you get that ball rolling down the hill of creativity, you may find it difficult to stop.
In reality, setting up a few short stories here and there could help in marketing yourself as an author. Be consistent with publishing those pieces, and you could amass an incredible following of people who love to read your work.
I’m debating on one of my mini-challenges this year to write an entire book on Wattpad from nothing but writing prompts.
What Kind of Books Will You Write?
Tutorials, fiction, non-fiction…the world is your playground. All it takes is motivation and an idea to get started. Just make sure your goals throughout the Year of the Book are realistic for your capabilities.
Not everyone has hours upon hours available all day to crank out a masterpiece. Start by challenging yourself to do more than you have in the past.
Make this year something memorable and the one to beat next time around.
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