Self Publishing SMART goals for 2020

by Helen J. Darling
published in Writing

Who doesn’t love the fresh slate of the new year? Okay, February isn’t quite as fresh and exciting as January, but it’s my first post of the new year, and my mind is still on where I want to go in 2020. Each year in January I take time out to review the year just completed, daydream about the year ahead, and set some SMART goals to help me get where I want to go. Research shows that people who not only write down their goals but share them with others achieve more of what they set out to do. So I’m sharing mine with you, and I hope you’ll hold me accountable.

As a reminder, SMART goals are:





Time bound

As I mentioned in my 2020 resolutions post with some of my DIY MFA colleagues, I want this year to be a big year for making connections and building relationships. In both indie and traditional publishing, the author has to do a lot of marketing. Lots of authors (including me) shy away from this obligation, but marketing doesn’t have to be sleazy. In fact, when done right, it’s just about having friendly relationships with other people. But the year isn’t going to be only about marketing, of course. I have creative and business management goals, too. So here are my 2020 SMART goals. Feel free to email me throughout the year and ask me how I’m doing!


By December 31, 2020, I will:

1. Double the size of my mailing list

I’ll also make sure these are engaged readers, because good mailing list health means periodically pruning from the list those folks who haven’t opened your messages in a while. We’ll talk about why in a future post.

To achieve this goal, by Sept. 30, 2020 I will:

  • Write, edit, and release a new reader magnet.
  • Write, edit, and release two new short stories for Kindle Unlimited.

2. Establish and maintain friendly relationships with 3-5 writers in my genre

I want to learn from these colleagues and support their work.


By December 31, 2020, I will:

1. Complete a second draft of a new novel

To get there, by June 30, 2020, I will complete a SFD of a new novel.

2. Map out a new 7-part series in a new genre

I like to read in diverse genres, and one of the benefits of indie publishing is that you have greater flexibility to experiment in other genres. I’m thinking about trying a suspense series. I’ll let you know how it goes!

3. Identify 175 new lessons about storytelling

I’m fascinated with the mechanics of storytelling in all its forms. I particularly want to discover what fiction writers can learn from film. To that end, I’m working on a project over at I’m on a quest to watch 100 movies, study 50 screenplays, and read 25 books in my genre in 2020. It’s an aggressive goal but I’m trying my best. Come on over and see what I’m learning.


I love the business aspect of indie publishing, but as with any job, there are parts that are less fun than others. There’s a reason I didn’t go into accounting for my day job. However, accounting is a vitally important part to growing a business well, and I’ve got a bad habit of letting my accounting tasks pile up. This year, I’ve got two business-related goals:

By the end of each calendar month, I will:

1. Log all of my sales receipts and expenses, and review a P&L report in order to better track my expenses.

2. Track all of my marketing campaigns and compare their ROI to make sure I’m spending my money in the most efficient way possible.

Do you have any goals for 2020, creative or otherwise? Drop me a line and tell me about them. And good luck!

Helen J. Darling writes and publishes contemporary women’s fiction at her imprint, Bricolage Books. She published her first novel, I’ll Know Me When I Find Me, in January 2018. Her latest novel, Terms and Conditions, was published in November 2019. You can connect with her at, on Instagram, Twitter and on Facebook. 

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