Crafting a Mission Statement and Why Authors Should!

Mission Statement, Do Authors Need Them?

As an author, I’m sure you know a lot about goals. We set deadlines for ourselves, we have word count goals we set daily and monthly, and we know what releases are coming for the following months, and maybe even the following year. One of the best ways to stay focused and to know what you’re aiming for is a mission statement.

Everyone in business makes a mission statement (and if they don’t, they should). A mission statement is really nothing more than writing down your goal and your aim within your venture. When I first read about mission statements, I brushed it off. I wrote something down, and it was generic. But I wrote one. I didn’t write my real mission statement until I got so frustrated with writing and trying to make sales, that I gave myself two options:

  1. Learn to love your craft again.
  2. Give up.

Writing is too damn important to me to give up, as I’m sure most authors feel. But writing for the sake of selling books (that weren’t selling) was sucking the soul out of me. I’m sure if I was selling oodles of books that I would really love what I did. I’d probably go skipping to my desk each morning, and really have a fire lit under me to write another book for people that showed appreciation by showering me with money. But that wasn’t happening, and I had a choice before me, as you see above.

mission-statement-serenity

Crafting a mission statement brings peace to your work.

So giving up isn’t an option for me. Call it a character flaw of mine, but I’m damn stubborn. I sat down and asked myself a couple questions:

  1. What do you want out of this if you can’t get money?
  2. How do you get back to your love for writing again?

Those answers (approximately five targeted sentences) became my mission statement. Now that I’ve created one, I have a very clear goal in mind. I know what I want, and I know how to get it. Money is no longer a goal of mine, though I admit I’m going to do everything I can to be sure that ever new release is well marketed and promoted because I still want to make money off my craft, but that’s not a goal of my mission statement.

But what is a mission statement? Business Dictionary tells us a mission statement is a written declaration of your core purpose. These purposes rarely change through the duration of your business. The mission statement helps you focus on what is important to you and your business, and it helps you to weed out what isn’t important.

Entrepreneur goes further and tells us that a mission statement defines your organization (your writing, in this case) and its reason for being, and why your writing exists. This can be for many reasons, among them:

  • Money
  • Can’t live without it
  • To show people they’re not alone
  • To fulfill my goals
  • To give me a sense of purpose

Crafting your mission statement.

clear-mission-statement

Let’s get the author fears off the table for a moment, and focus on your mission statement.

I hope you don’t have to come to a point in your writing where you’re at the end of your tether and you’re half a step from smashing your computer, burning your projects, and going to sign up with the circus because literally anything sounds better than forcing words out of your fingers that are never going to sell. A mission statement doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take some work. You have to be honest with yourself, and you have to really know what you want from your writing. If you’re looking to make money from your writing, and you’re not sure where to start, check out my post on For Love or Money.

So sit down with a pen and paper (or a word document) and write down a list of what you want from your venture. Be honest, and be brutal. Some companies and organizations whittle their mission statement down to a single sentence, and that’s great too, but for me, there was a lot I wanted to put into my mission.

Great, with that done, put them into an actual statement. This is how I wrote mine.

To find my love for writing again and to write what I’d love to read. To remember who I am and help my readers discover parts of themselves they have lost touch with, or forgotten about; to remind me and them that there’s a reason we’re alive, and that reason is worth living for. To meet new people and discover new worlds I will never be able to see outside of my own head. To give up the mechanical writing and the sense that “this next book will be a great seller,” and to relax and enjoy each new character and story I put into print. To be present in each scene I write.

I think it’s an awesome mission statement, but it’s one thing to write that, and an entirely different thing to know how you’re going to stick to it. So, that’s where I broke down each sentence and figure out how I was going to implement the mission. For me, it looked something like this:

make-the-mission-statement-do-the-hard-work

Make your mission statement do the hard work, while you have fun!

How to Implement your Mission Statement

To find my love for writing again and to write what I’d love to read.

  • Get excited to write and flesh out scenes
  • To flesh out themes and have them stand out in the book

To remember who I am and help my readers discover parts of themselves they have lost touch with, or forgotten about; to remind me and them that there’s a reason we’re alive, and that reason is worth fighting for.

  • I miss my younger days and the freedom I felt then. How I lead with my heart.
  • Capture those “sweet” days in the book.
  • Draw on memory of “better” times to help give the book life.
  • To express my “lost” feelings of love and wonder through my books.
  • Remember how my emotions felt and how they made me feel, and put that in writing.

And so on. It’s a very personal thing to do, and it took a lot for me to share some of the truths in my mission statement here, because I often don’t tell people that I’m not happy with my life, and that I miss those feelings of wonder I had when I was younger, but it’s very well known to me, and so it went into my statement. I’m sure yours will be just as personal for you.

Unlike company mission statements that appear on their websites, I feel an author’s mission statement isn’t something for their readers. It isn’t something for your editor or your publisher. This is for you. You need to set clear goals with yourself so you know when you’re reaching them. You need to know what’s important to you for your writing so you can keep on track, and not lose yourself along the way. It’s so easy to talk to other authors and see what they’re doing and how well they’re doing, and want to jump on the bandwagon. But with a mission statement firmly in place, you have something to weigh the trends with. You can ask yourself “is paying $500 for this course going to help me with my mission?” If you think it will, then go for it, but if it’s not something that’s going to help you reach the goals on your mission statement, then you know which direction to head in.

 

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Posted in Writing Help

Writing for Love or Money

Are you in this for love or money?

You’ve heard all the stories about authors making a bucket full of money off their books, and you want to cash in. Whether you’re writing for love or money, you still want to make some big bucks. You’re not alone, we all want our books to sell. One of the biggest dreams for me as an author was to write novels that people would love, and that would sell, and sell really well. Well enough that I could support a comfortable life, and not have to work for another person. Well, we’re in luck.

Keep writing, something will pay off, right? WRONG!

Keep writing, something will pay off, right? WRONG!

Kinda.

Here’s the thing, there are some books that are naturally going to sell better than others, and no one really knows why. There are various reasons why some may sell better, but then there are some which are a complete mystery. There are helpful ways to diagnose why your book isn’t selling. But the authors who are killing it probably didn’t realize when they wrote their book, commissioned their cover, and wrote their blurb that they were doing precisely everything right. And no, there’s not a single silver bullet that will help your book sell, it’s a combination of many things.

Lucky for us we live in a time of information. If there’s something you don’t know, you can easily become an internet expert with a bit of researching, and that’s what Susan Kaye Quinn did with her novel For Love or Money. As authors, we have a mission, and that mission varies from author to author. We either have a mission to fill our souls with adventures and characters, or to spread a message that we think is important. No matter why we are writing, one things holds true, and that’s constantly learning our craft to make ourselves, and our writing, stronger. This is a great book to add to your list of resources.

Is writing for money selling out?

I don’t think so. There are a lot of people that will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. But remember, most of us are wanting our works to sell anyway, right? Then why would writing with the intent of making money be selling out? You’re only selling out if you go against the fabric of your beliefs, not someone else’s. Let’s take a little mental road trip. Back in the day when publishing houses held all the strings, they were constantly looking for the next best thing. They were looking for something fresh and new. They wanted ideas that were unique, and they wanted characters that were rich and interesting. All of that still holds true…for publishing houses.

Granted, we still want our characters to be interesting, but we are no longer constricted with the notion that something has to be completely new and fresh to sell. In fact, the more you try to stand out seems the less likely you are to sell. Why? We are people of habit, and we like what feels familiar and comfortable. That doesn’t mean that you have to write everything exactly the same as someone else, but tropes are no longer to be avoided, but embraced. Now that we are in a different publishing era, one where readers (not publishers) call the shots, we are left with a bigger question: do we write for love or money?

This is easy, it's crap, right? WRONG! That's loving what you do!

This is easy, it’s crap, right? WRONG! That’s loving what you do!

Susan’s book is in depth. She tells us the ins and outs of both. She tells us what we need to know to give our books the best possible chance of success it can have, and she leads us by the hand the entire way. The book is very in depth, and she talks about her own journey on both paths, and she supports her position with research and facts. If there’s one book you need to read to turn your writing into a business, it’s For Love or Money. Of course there are tons of others you should read, but this one is high on the list.

But just because you decide to write for money (if that’s what you decide) doesn’t mean you should do it without love. Fortunately for me, the genre I love writing in sells well. But if you’re writing a book about making goat cheese for people who live in tropical climates or something, you probably won’t sell a lot.

For Love or Money and PASSION!

Which leads me to a little personal story of my own. I’ve been writing for a while now. I started seriously publishing in 2009, and though my books aren’t selling the amount I want them to, they’re selling okay. So I decided to give her For Love or Money a try. Nothing else seemed to be working, so I made a change. I decided to write about something that REALLY sells just on subject alone, and that’s dragons. The first book is selling better than any of my other books had, and I can’t wait to see what happens with revenue when I publish the other books. BUT, I have high expectations, and they’re still not selling as well as I’d like them to sell.

It led to a question: why am I doing this? Well, I love writing. . .but not really. See, I get frustrated easily, and when something doesn’t work, I throw a bit of a hissy-fit, and get all down on myself and threaten to give up, and then I hit it again, sure there’s something I’m missing. Maybe there’s one tiny thing I’m not doing right that everyone else is doing, and that will really help my books soar! This led to me falling out of love with my writing. It became a chore. It became hours each day that I would fluctuate with really good stories, and then crippling self-doubt that my books weren’t ever going to sell as much as I wanted them to.

Then I started asking really hard questions. Again, why am I doing this? For love or money? Startlingly, I realized I was only writing for money. That was a huge change from when I started. When I started writing, I was doing it for adventure, for lands of magic that I could escape to, to meet people that I would never know outside of my own head. It led to a complete shift of writing for me, and that new shift was this: don’t write for money without love.

for love or money

There’s no money in writing without passion.

That simple shift has completely changed how I approach my writing. Hell, even editing has become fun because I can flesh things out and I can give characters their voice while I’m reading through what I’ve previously written. Also, the moment I made that shift in my mind, my dragon books became fun! I hadn’t truly been having fun with them before, but now I’m enjoying the adventure like I used to.

So I would amend this post to say that you can do both, write for love or money, but it should always have heart. Even if you’re writing for money and you’re following the guidelines for the genre, the reader expectations, and the tropes for your niche, you should always write with heart. Fall in love with whatever you write, and keep at it. I would strongly suggest reading For Love or Money by Susan Kaye Quinn, and then heading over to do your research being mindful that you should always enjoy what you’re writing. If you’re going to write for money, then write for money in a lucrative genre that you can enjoy writing in.

In cooking we always say something that’s made with love tastes better. To me, that holds true with writing. If something is written with love in it, then it will feel so much better. So keep writing, no matter if you’re doing it for love or money, but no matter which way you’re doing it, Susan’s book is a huge help.

I’d love to hear your input on this. Let’s start a conversation in the comments!

 

Posted in Writing Help