Self-printing goals: Was self-publishing Diary of a Penguin-napper a success?


Back when I started this whole self-publishing caper in October 2012, I really had no idea how I’d go and it caused me a lot of sleepless nights, lying awake wondering if I’d made the right decision to self-publish or not.

In order to track my progress and give myself something to work towards (and something to hopefully celebrate along the way) I decided to set myself some goals.  I promised to come back in 12 months and tell you (a) What my 4 goals were and (b) How close I came to achieving them and here I am.  And how did I go?

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.  For me, that goal was 200 paperbacks and I’m pleased to report that I’m not writing this post from a remote island.  I actually achieved this goal within the first 2 weeks of my book going live on Amazon, thanks to lots of time spent on blog tours, tweeting, sharing and family and friends on Facebook and an book launch event at the school where I was teaching.

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. In total, it cost me around $2000 to take Diary of a Penguin-napper from manuscript to publication.  This included things like:

  • Manuscript Assessment
  • Editing
  • Proof Reading
  • Cover design
  • Purchase of fonts, stock photography, etc.
  • Approx 30 custom illustrations
  • Proof copies
  • Marketing materials

And I’m proud to say that I’ve sold enough copies to cover these initial set-up costs and I’ve been able to put enough aside to cover the costs of publishing my next book Ruby Marvellous in November this year (for significantly less than the cost of Penguin-napper too! Win!)

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.  For me, that was 1000 sales and, well, let’s just say I’ve totally smashed that.

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.  I decided that my goal would be to have my book in a bookshop.  I picked this not only because I thought it would be awesome, but also because I knew that it would make me get out there and approach bookshops as potential stockists.  I’m pleased to say that as I write this post, Diary of a Penguin-napper is currently available in BookTalk in Richmond (Melbourne), Collins Booksellers in Mildura and Dymocks (Melbourne).  There are a few other bookshops that I am also looking to approach when Ruby Marvellous is ready to hit the shops too.

It is hard to believe that this time last year, I had never brought a book to market, let alone sold a copy of it.  Here I am, 12 months later, having sold far more than I even anticipated that I would (or could).  Additionally, I have learnt so much more about the process and running a business than I ever would have doing this any other way.  The fact that I’ve even been able to achieve my ‘Pinch me!’ pie in the sky goal just blows me away and I’m feeling totally motivated to try and beat these figures with my new book, Ruby Marvellous, coming out at the end of November, 2013.

Do you have goals for your self-publishing ventures?  Are you getting close to achieving them? Do you think self-publishers even need goals? Tell me below!


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