Mark Terry

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goals & Resolutions

December 30, 2009
I'm looking at the Word file I made about this time last year called 2009 Goals. There are 5 goals on them and really, they're probably none of your business. I can say that I only hit 1 of the 5 goals on this list and I sort of shattered that one. Well, here they are, more or less.

1. Make $80,000+
Uh, no. Financially it was a fairly mediocre year although I think it'll probably come out to be average. There was a 2-month period where I believe I made, oh, about $1500. That really sucked. The end of the year more or less kicked in strong and 2010 looks good to-date (promised work), but I did not make this number. Although I haven't done the final numbers yet, I'd say I didn't even get close, although I made a decent living. Granted, that number was high for me, although not unrealistic, but I didn't come close.

2. Sign a book contract (fiction or nonfiction).
Well, what can I say. I had a great year in this regard. I signed two contracts for novels, both with Oceanview Publishing, one in January for The Fallen, and one later this year (I'd have to check, but it was probably late-summer, early-fall) for the 4th Derek Stillwater novel, The Valley of Shadows. Also, although I haven't actually scribbled my name on the contract yet (it's in the mail), my two physician-collaborators and I got a contract for a nonfiction book that will be out probably early 2011, maybe even late 2010. The two docs have already signed the contract and I'm just waiting for it to show up for me to sign. In the meantime, I'm already re-organizing the proposal and digging in on the manuscript, which is due around May. So, Go, me! Well done. Well done, indeed.

I was thinking about this today and I realized that a couple years ago I had told myself that the direction I wanted my writing career to go was as a writer of books. And it seems to be that I'm on track. I really only regularly write for two magazine/trade journals; otherwise my income primarily comes from writing book-length market research reports, editing a technical journal, and whatever miscellaneous other things show up. That's good, I think--making a living just writing for magazines and trade journals, though satisfying, can be a particularly brutal treadmill to be on--and it seems like it's the direction I'm headed anyway. That's definitely the direction I want to go--mostly books with the occasional small project to fill in the gaps and to keep my hand in. I would also, as I recently mentioned to my wife, like to start having enough book projects out and about that I started getting royalties from them, ie., having a backlist, so I got income from work I did earlier, rather than just recently.

3. Lose 36 pounds.
Well, no. Hell no. Earlier this week I would have had to say I gained weight, but I've been being careful about what enters my mouth and exercising harder this week, and as a result I can say I lost more like 2 pounds, but no, this was clearly a failure. If there's one thing I've learned in 2009 it's that unless you're a marathoner, exercise alone won't help you lose weight if you aren't careful what you eat. And I do exercise. A lot. About 6 days a week. Weight lifting 3 days a week, running 3 days a week, biking 3-6 days a week depending on the time of year, karate at least 1.5 hours a week, more often 3 to 6 hours of formal workouts, the occasional kayaking when in season, and a lot of dog-walking. So it's not exercise. It's eating out too much and eating too much in general. Bummer.

4. Work up to running 5 miles, 3X a week. Well, no. In about February I was up to 3.5 miles, then I'm not quite sure what happened. I think I got sick for a couple weeks and didn't run, then started back around a mile or two, then when I started running outside instead of on the treadmill it wasn't long before I got injured--Achilles tendon pull/strain and/or problems with my calf muscles. So I took a month or two off to rest up. Then I started over more or less from the beginning. I'm currently up to about 2.25 miles on the treadmill about 3 days a week. The plan this time is to get to 3 miles and just hold there for some time to consolidate that level of fitness, such as it is.

5. Run a 10K. Well, as #4 might indicate, uh, no.

So where does that leave me for my goals/resolutions for 2010?

I think I'll keep #1. Why the hell not?

1. Make $80,000+
2. Sign a book contract
3. Ah, well, more realistic. Lose 10 pounds. If I hit that, well, then, I'll adjust.
4. Work up to running 3 miles 3X a week.

I've got another 24 hours to focus on these a bit more.

For the book contracts, I'd like to sign another nonfiction book contract and I'd like to sign at least one more fiction contract. I'm actually more ambitious than that. I want to sign at least one more contract for a Derek Stillwater novel. I want to get a contract for the SF novel I'm writing. I want a contract for another novel, whether it's the one still out there, Hot Money, or another thriller I hope to finish in the first half of this year. That means 3-4 books contracts, not counting the various contracts I'm expecting in the next week or so for market research reports.

I'd like The Fallen to sell a lot. It comes out in April so I'll be doing a fair amount of promotion. I need to focus my promotional goals. I know my publisher mentioned 65 signings, but that's not going to happen. I'm leaning toward a 2010 goal of 10-15 official events--book signings, book fairs, etc--with some miscellaneous drive-bys, as well as a blog tour, etc. Since The Valley of Shadows doesn't come out until September 2011, I have a good 9 months to continue marketing The Fallen in 2011, too, which is a change of strategy for me. I'm trying to treat it as a marathon and rather than kill myself all at once, do a slow but steady amount of promotion over the course of the book's pub schedule. I don't know if that'll work, but it'll work better for me. I do know that being intense for a couple months then doing nothing results in some sales during the intense period, then almost nothing the rest of the time. And the intense period drives me nuts.

I've been a first-degree brown belt in sanchin-ryu karate for about 2 years. The next level is black belt. The way sanchin-ryu handles promotions is a little different from the more "sports-based" martial arts like Tae Kwon Do. Brown belt and up are pretty much at the discretion of the district master. Masters are 4th-degree black belts and up; the district master oversees the classes within a region. I was promoted by the previous district master just before he left the state for another job, taking his wife, my instructor, with him. So at the time period in which I might have really been progressing toward my black belt all the people who really know who I was and what I knew left and I had to get to know a new sensei and a new district master. That is at least one factor in why it's taken so long (I'm sure there are others, like I wasn't, uh, ready), but I've been making much more of a concerted effort to progress--helping teach junior classes, visiting more classes, including one that's currently being taught by the district master, more workouts in general, as well as keeping sanchin-ryu in the back of my mind the rest of the time. So I hope that in 2010 I'll get promoted. Although as I often say, when I'm ready I'll get promoted. Still...

I'm sure I can come up with some more goals, but I'll give it some thought.

How about you? How'd you do in 2009?


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

That's awesome, Mark!

Yeah, I love royalties. Right now, they're my only retirement. Luckily ebooks tend to hold steady, year after year.

I've been spending a lot of time the last two days thinking about this, (I generally spend a full week every year.) and I'm perplexed at how I nail my "idea" goals, but not my concrete, "numbers" goals. 2006--Be real (yeah). 2007-Live Outside the Window (took me two years). 2008--Be more mindful (um, not really.) 2009--Live slower (check, but getting a little too slow.)

So I'm trying to unpuzzle how I'm most motivated. :-)

8:47 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

My professional goals seem easier to hit than my personal goals. Don't know why.

11:14 AM  

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