How to set your publishing goal

There are many questions you need to ask yourself before you begin writing a book, but there is one question that is more critical than any other: what do I want to achieve by writing a book?

This question is critical, because in answering it, not only will you be uncovering what you truly want, you will also be discovering your publishing goal.

Why is this important?

When you set any goal you express your level of self-belief in – and your commitment to – achieving it. If your goal lacks purpose and energy, and it doesn't make you feel excited (and a bit scared) it isn't going to be strong enough to help you get through those sticky moments when you want to give up.

If you're thinking, “Urgh! Goals”, read on…

Now, before you switch off because I mentioned the word ‘goal’, hear me out. When I use the word goal, I also mean outcome, result and dream. So here are some alternative ways of asking yourself what you want to achieve by publishing a book:

  • What would be the ideal result you could get as a result of publishing your book?
  • What do you dream of happening as a result of publishing your book?
  • What result do you truly want to get from publishing your book?

You get the idea…so go ahead and ask yourself these questions. Go through all of them because they're all slightly different so they'll help you uncover different aspects of what you want to get from publishing your book.

Next, set your goal:

I've broken down the goal-setting process into five small steps to help you set your goal.

Step 1

Write down everything you want from publishing your book. Just write everything that comes into your head. Let yourself go and don't filter out dreams and wishes because they seem unrealistic or you feel they might be beyond your ability to make them happen.

And remember:

Your book can produce results that go way beyond book sales and making money!

So, consider the wider impact you would like your book to have on you, your business and your life. For example, greater self-confidence, becoming a published author, a sense of achievement, greater clarity about your business and what you do, and leaving a legacy.

Your goal will motivate you when you meet challenges.
Your goal will motivate you when you meet challenges.

Step 2

Next, read the goals, dreams, results and ideal outcomes you have written down. Choose the three that resonate with you most and write them on a separate piece of paper.

Now, before you go any further, I need to tell you a simple truth. No matter what you want to achieve by publishing your book, you won't make it happen unless you sell those books and probably sell them in significant numbers.

Here's the kicker:

Even goals like raising your confidence will be affected if your book doesn't sell. Publishing a book will make you feel good for a while, but if nobody buys it, that feeling will probably begin to fade away.

Sales of your book prove you are:

  • Reaching the people you want to reach.
  • Getting your message out there.
  • Bringing leads into your business.

In other words, without sales, you probably can't achieve what you want to achieve.

So, whatever your goal, you need to think about how many books you need to sell to achieve it and in the way you dream of achieving it. Let's face it, becoming a published author is great, but if nobody buys your book, you won't reach your bigger goal of becoming a recognised author, becoming an authority in your field or helping others.


Now you need to put some details on these outcomes.

  • How many books do you want to sell a day or a week or a month?
  • How many weeks or months do you want to be a bestseller?
  • How many leads do want each month from your book?
  • And if you're focused on your revenue:
  • How much money do you want to make from your book sales?
  • How much money do you want to make from the leads you generate from your book?

Test it out.

Imagine you sell 30 books a month. Are you be happy? If you’re a bestseller on Kindle for a day, is that going to satisfy you? Go ahead and get a bit more specific about what your publishing goal looks like with all those details in place.

Step 3

Your next step is to check out each of your goals by testing them against the SMART Goal criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound). It is important that you believe you can achieve each of your goals, even if they seem a bit of a stretch. If a goal feels heavy and daunting, it won't help you. If it feels exciting, it will propel you forward.

Your publishing goal does not need to be related to book sales or revenue from book sales. Click To Tweet

Step 4

Next, I want you to choose just one of your publishing goals – select the single most important outcome for you in publishing your book. What is the ‘must have’ result that will make writing, publishing and promoting this book worthwhile? Go ahead, choose your one thing. If you get stuck, notice which of the results gets you excited or puts a smile on your face. Go with your gut.

Got it?

Step 5

Finally, you need to write down your one overriding publishing goal and put it in a sentence:

“It is 5 May 2016 and my book is consistently selling 50 copies each week on Amazon.”

Write it on a sticky note and post it somewhere visible. Type it onto the title page of your book (you can delete it before you publish it!) and read it every time you work on your book.


Your publishing goal needs to be related to book sales or revenue from book sales. Think of the potential impact of your book on those you want to help, your confidence, your legacy, your business and your income if it sells consistently and in good numbers.

“It is 18 February 2016 and I have three new clients as a result of publishing my book.”

“It is 23 March and I have just sold 50 books as a result of giving my keynote speech.”

Is it a good publishing goal?

As long as your goal makes you feel excited, it is right. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it. And if you realise it's not working, change it. After all, it's your goal.

Use your publishing goal to motivate, inspire and drive you forward when you get stuck or in difficult days when you feel confused. It'll help pull you through the ‘messy middle' when you're wondering why you started. Your goal will also help to push you out of your comfort zone or get you past a barrier, such as fear barrier.

Get your publishing goal right, and it will push you further than any other decision you make about your book. So go and write down your goal. It is yours; own it, believe in it and trust it to support you.

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Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.