Last weekend, I sat down and wrote my goals for this whole self-publishing project and it was both harder and easier than I thought it would be.  It was hard because self-publishing hasn’t really taken off in Australia like it has in other parts of the world (yet!) and because it is hard to gauge how well sales of a children’s book will go when it comes to paperbacks vs e-books.  On the other hand, it was easy because (a) I don’t know what I don’t know at this stage, so I can ambitiously choose any figures I fancy – vaguely based on the success of others and vaguely just from the ether – and (b) I am prepared to work super hard to achieve the goals that I set for myself (generally, in life, and, now, in book selling) so whatever goals I picked, that would be what I’d be working hard for.

Before I set goals for myself, I had to sit down and consider the question: “Why am I self-publishing?”

If your answer to this is “To sell a few copies to friends and family” then that is warm and fuzzy and lovely, but you also probably don’t need to be setting any goals.  You just do a whip round, see who wants a copy, put the order in and then bingo, you’ve sold copies to Mum, Dad, best friend Jimmy and his Aunty Mabel.

If your answer is: “To gain fame and fortune” then I’d probably give up now and go and buy a lottery ticket.  The majority of reports show that, aside from a select few minority success stories, fame and fortune are not side effects of self publishing

But, if your answer is (like mine was): “To start (or as part of) your work as a author-entrepeneur” then we are clearly on the same page, with our common sense business hats screwed tightly on and I think you will enjoy (and possibly gain something) from reading the rest of this post.

After answering that question, I then turned to what is fast becoming my self-publishing bible, Catherine Ryan Howard’s book Self-Printed 2.0 (Go and get yourself a copy! It is totally worth it!), to see what she had to say on the topic. To summarise, Catherine highlights four main kinds of goals that you should set for your self-publishing project:

1. Embarrassment Level Goal
This is the minimum number of sales that you would need to make to not be totally humiliated and have to move to some remote island in the Pacific to hide.

2. Break Even Goal

This is the number of sales that you would have to make in order to make back the money that you spent on the whole venture. (I have to say, I found this to be the hardest of the 4 goals to set because it is difficult to calculate the % of paperback to e-books sales to come up with exact numbers at this stage.  Instead, I looked at the maximum amount I’ve spent and then worked out how many paperbacks alone I would need to sell and then how many e-books alone I would need to sell. I envisage achieving this goal will be a combination of both kinds of sales meeting to total my break even amount.)

3. Achievable Aspiration Goal

This is again a numerical goal that isn’t too easily achievable, but, with a bit of hard work, you’d be really happy if you got there.


4. Pinch me! I’m Dreaming Goal

This is your ‘something to daydream about’ goal.  If this goal happened, you’d be absolutely ecstatic, thrilled and probably over the moon as well.  This goal is not a number, but most probably an event.

And when setting my personal goals for these four areas, I applied the SMART method of goal setting, as pictured above.  I made sure that I came up with specific numbers that I feel (at this stage) I could reasonably achieve in my book sales in 12 months and I wrote them down somewhere obvious that I will see them all the time to motivate me. (In case my colour coordination there wasn’t clear, the colours of the words in that sentence match the relevant colours of the fancy post-it notes in the graphic – Ahhh!)

Now, I have no idea whether or not I’m on the right track with my goals for Diary of a Penguin-napper.  I really hope I am and I’m excited now that I’ve got something tangible to aim for over the coming 12 months and I promise to come back in 12 months and tell you (a) What my goals were and (b) How close I came to achieving them.  



  1. Hi SallyWonderful to hear you are going to self pub and your goals are awesome. Loved the post. I am a fellow Aussie and I embarked on self publishing a middle grade novel nearly 2 years ago. It was a great experience and I have learnt a lot. It has just gone live on Amazon and I have just started getting positive responses to my review requests so if I can offer a helping hand at all let me know. Best of luck. Cheers Julie Anne Grassowww.julieannegrassobooks.comTwitter @jujuberry37

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