Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Goals" - a guest post by author, LILA DARE

Publication is the holy grail for many aspiring writers. Publication is validation, recognition, money! (Pennies are still money, right?) It’s all of that and more...and less.

When I started writing full-time almost six years ago, I had my gaze firmly set on publishing a mystery. I tend to be goal oriented—some friends might use the terms “control freak,” or “Type A poster child,” but I’m pretty sure they mean it in a good way. So, “Write a good book” was too amorphous a goal. How would I know if it was “good”? Why, if someone published it. So my goal became “Have a publishing contract on a book within two years.” Mwa-ha-ha. That’s the sound of the publishing gods laughing at my hubris. Two years came and went and I had a completed manuscript, but no agent and no publishing contract.

So I worked on the manuscript some more and started a sequel. Agents began requesting the whole manuscript (especially after I cut about one-third of it) and I finally signed with a wonderful agent. Hallelujah, I thought. I might be behind my time-line a tad, but I was within sight of my goal of publishing a book. Cue evil laughter. My agent was unable to sell the manuscript she signed me on and it took another two years for us to land a contract, a three-book deal for the Southern Beauty Shop series, the first of which, Tressed to Kill, debuted in May.

Goal achieved, right? Well, yes, and I celebrated with family and friends. However, somehow the goal had morphed and it was no longer about publication, it was about sales. Merely getting published wasn’t good enough anymore—“Is she a total loony?” I hear some of you asking—and I let myself be sucked into the black hole of promotion and marketing. I have stopped short of checking my sales ranking on Amazon every week (I’ve only checked it a handful of times, primarily because I can’t figure out what it really means), and I haven’t yet hired actors to read my book in public and pretend to find it hysterically funny (I read last week about an author who did that), but worrying about whether I’ve done everything I can to promote the book is using far too many of my age-reduced brain cells. It’s keeping me from enjoying writing. It’s making me think about setting up a couple of bookstore signings on my family’s cross-country vacation this summer. Puh-leeze, as my tween-ager would say (frequently with an eye-roll).

Enough. It’s time for a new goal. Yes, it’s fuzzy and no, I can’t quantify it, but I’m as okay with that as I can be. Here it is: Write a good book. That’s it. No riders about time-line, sales figures, or getting starred reviews. I’m posting it over my computer right now. Oops . . . I’ve already added a sub-goal: Enjoy it.

You can visit Lila Dare at

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