BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS: FAVORITE READS FROM 2017

In today's video, I share my favorite reads from 2017. This list will include something for everyone, whether you’re into fiction or only non-fiction, I think you’ll find something great to read.

So last year, I set a goal of 50 books to read. This was scary to set such a high number, but I did it and I’m so glad because I read so many good books. I think I was wasting a lot of time just rewatching old TV shows, but now I’m spending more time than ever consuming new stories and non-fiction.

In 2018, my reading goal is 60 books. I'm upping my goal again, but I'm also ecstatic to be making even more room for reading in my life and become a better storyteller through reading.

Here are my favorite reads from last year (my affiliate links):

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If you’ve been in a reading rut or are looking to level up your life, I definitely recommend you start with some of these books. And if you’ve read some of these before, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I read and reply to all of them.

One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a person and as a writer this year is to read more books. It’s why I’m making reading one of my top priorities in 2018. It makes me a better storyteller and helps me level up. And I know it’ll do the same for you if you give it the time.

As always, thanks for watching, subscribe so you don’t miss future videos, and keep creating your art.

MY 2018 THEME, GOALS, & HABITS + Q1 GOALS (HOW TO PLAN YOUR YEAR BY QUARTER)

In today's video, I share my 2018 goals, habits, and theme.

Plus, I share why I now plan by quarter as well as what specific goals I'm striving for during the first quarter of the year!

If you'd like some new year inspiration and tips, you'll love this video. 

Here's what I discuss:

  • What I failed to mention in my 2017 in review video (how did I do as far as $$?)
  • The phrases, mantras, habits, and mindset that I'm going into 2018 with
  • Why I'm switching to planning by quarter instead of by year
  • Big picture goals for 2018 (like revenue & hitting publish every 3 months)
  • My specific goals for the first quarter of the year (2 big goals plus a handful of smaller goals)
  • My #1 tool for 2018
  • Why I'm convinced that 2018 is going to be so much better than 2017

Find the video helpful? Remember to subscribe so you don't miss the next one! Sign up in 3 seconds on my homepage. 

2017 in Review: Here's How I Did

It's that time of year again!

In this video, I review my 2017 goals and share how far I came. This is one of the most crucial exercises for my author business, along with setting goals at the start of every year.

Find out how many of my goals I achieved as well as where I fell short! Regardless, make sure you celebrate your progress. 

How far did you come in 2017? Did you meet your most important goals? 

WRITING TO MARKET UPDATE #1: THE RESEARCH PHASE, WHAT TO DO, AND WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR

WRITING TO MARKET UPDATE #1: THE RESEARCH PHASE, WHAT TO DO, AND WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR

Today I want to give you the first official update as I write my first series to market. This is something I announced a while back, and I’ve come a long way since then. 
In this video, I’m talking about the research phase of the write to market process, what exactly I’m doing when I say write to market, exactly what I did, and everything I've learned.

My Plan for Finally Becoming a Six-Figure Author

My Plan for Finally Becoming a Six-Figure Author

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on something new with my YA fiction.

But what’s really exciting is that, for the first time ever, I’m going into this writing project with some specific business goals and an entirely new mindset.

If you’re in the same boat as me, where you’ve been in this indie publishing game for a few months or a year, and you’re still not seeing the sales that you want, then stick around because you’ll definitely find this helpful.

WHY IT TOOK ME 6 YEARS & 7 BOOKS TO TELL PEOPLE I'M A WRITER

How do people react when you tell them you’re a writer?

What did your friends and family say the first time you told them you were writing a book? Did you tell them right away or did you wait before you told them?

Maybe this wasn’t a big deal for you at all, but for me it was, and it’s something that I’ve only recently been able to get over.

Let me tell you my story (and why it took me six years to tell anyone I was a writer).

MY AUTHOR JOURNEY: How far I've come since selling a book a month

I've come a very long way since I got started as an indie author on New Year's Eve 2013.

In today's video, I'm giving you the biggest takeaways I've learned throughout the years and starting out selling maybe a book a month, including:

  • the most important things I've learned
  • the very first steps of my journey and how I became a lifelong reader (thanks to a very special teacher)
  • the very first thing I wrote 
  • the favorite stories that inspired me to become a writer
  • what I did for years before ever writing a single word 
  • why I took writing seriously in college and my first NaNoWriMo
  • how I found out about self-publishing and why writing became a lot less scary
  • what finally motivated me to write my first book
  • what happened to my very first book and what I wrote after that
  • the hard lessons I learned as a newbie indie author and the denial I went through
  • the specific things I did to turn things around and finally start selling some books
  • where I am now and what's still scary for me 

Lessons Learned So Far, Reviewing Goals, & How to Finish 2017 STRONG

In today's video, I teach you how to review your yearly goals and pivot if needed so you finish the rest of the year strong! 

Spoiler alert: my year has not gone as planned! 

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I also talk about:

  • the essential questions to ask yourself as you review your goals
  • how my mid-year review went
  • why it's important to accept that things don't always go as planned and be kind to yourself
  • what I'm struggling with right now
  • how I'm pivoting for the rest of 2017
  • what I'm doing now that I know I'm definitely not going to be able to accomplish everything I set out to do in the beginning of the year (and why I shouldn't)
  • what I am making a priority
  • an excellent strategy for when you feel overwhelmed with everything on your plate and don't know where to start
  • the #1 most important thing to remember as you continue on with your year

2017 Goals: What's Next?

So I shared how my author business did in 2016 (spoiler: I 8xed my sales income!) Now I’m ready to look forward again and decide where I’m going in 2017.

My main goals for next year

  • write and publish a lot more fiction

  • diversify my income and share valuable content through Savvy Authorpreneur

  • make a full-time income from my business

Here are some high points of what I’m going to do to get there:

  • I’m going to wrap up my two current YA series with two final books and box up each series

  • I’m going to write and launch a new YA romance series to market (this will be a huge endeavor that you’ll get to experience with me!)

  • I’m going to share what I’m learning and how my author business is doing here on Savvy Authorpreneur

  • I’m going to create my first course for authors (because I think I have something new and helpful to share)

  • I'm going to read a lot, work on my health, and purge/organize my stuff

Let’s dive into some specifics!

2017 Goals

YA Fiction by Yesenia Vargas

Writing fiction is my first love, and it will continue to take priority in 2017.

A growing backlist of books is the fastest path to full-time writing income so I'm going to write new words every weekday, create stories that will sell, and spend time marketing. 

Here’s what I want for my YA fiction in general:

Overall Business Goals

  • Purpose: make a full-time income from book sales and reach a bigger readership

  • Create consistent growth in sales/income (aiming for $5,000+ monthly/$50,000+ yearly)

  • Continue growing and engaging my reader email list (aiming for 10,000+ total subscribers)

  • Publish 4 new books per year (consistently grow catalog of products)

  • Communicate consistently with readers via email list and social media (for fun, sharing stuff, and fostering personal connections)

  • Market book 1s at least every 6 months

  • Write down and check in on weekly and quarterly goals (stay productive)

Here’s what I’m specifically going to do in 2017 to work towards this…

Writing

  • Finish writing book 3 of Matters of the Heart series

  • Revise book 3 of the Matters of the Heart series

  • Revise book 4 of the Changing Hearts series

  • Write a reader magnet short story for the Matters of the Heart series

  • Write 3 books to market

Publishing

  • Update front/back matter of all books and reformat/re-upload with Vellum

  • Publish last book of the Changing Hearts series

  • Publish last book of the Matters of the Heart series

  • Create and publish Changing Hearts boxed set

  • Create and publish Matters of the Heart boxed set

  • Create and upload a new and improved cover for All In

  • Launch at least 2 books to market (ideally 3)

  • Write and publish 1 children’s book with my daughter for fun

  • Decide on audiobook strategy

  • Begin Spanish translation for Without You

Marketing

  • Use exclusive short story reader magnet for the Matters of the Heart series to bring in more email subscribers

  • Keep readers engaged through monthly newsletter

  • Keep readers engaged through FB group and Instagram

  • Keep email list growing through front/back matter, free promotions, ads, etc

  • Promote book 1s every 3-6 months with newsletter ads

  • Promote book 1s constantly through ads

  • Start experimenting with FB ads

Savvy Authorpreneur

I never thought I'd create or focus on anything for writers beyond Monday Must-Reads, and I promised myself I wouldn't unless I had something unique and valuable to say.

And I think I do (I hope you'll agree with me).

I'm really excited to dive into it next year.

Here’s what I want for Savvy Authorpreneur in general:

Overall Goals

  • To share what I'm learning as an indie fiction author (especially the business side), network with other creative entrepreneurs, and become an authentic voice of authority in the indie publishing industry

  • To help diversify my income as an online creative entrepreneur through courses, ebooks, and affiliate sales (aiming for $1,000-$3,000/month, $12,000-$36,000/year)

  • Share tips on productivity, mindset, and business

  • To grow and engage my writer email list (aiming for 5,000+ total subscribers)

  • Create 1-2 products per year and use my platform to share other helpful books, courses, products, and other resources

  • Communicate consistently with other writers via email list, vlogging, and social media (for fun, sharing insights, and fostering personal connections)

  • Write down and check in on weekly and quarterly goals (stay productive)

Here’s what I’m going to do specifically in 2017 to work towards this:

Savvy Authorpreneur Goals

  • Share business progress, what I’m learning, or other helpful insights

  • Start vlogging on Savvy Authorpreneur YouTube channel two times a week

  • Create my first course

  • Finish autoresponder series

  • Create at least one more course (not necessarily aimed at writers)

  • Keep growing email list by sharing valuable & helpful content

Here’s how I’m going to reach all of my 2017 goals:

Daily Goals & Progress Checks

  • Write down daily goals

  • Record weekly goals & progress checks

  • Create and follow a daily morning routine that makes me happy and gets me ready to work

  • Write or dictate at least 2,000 words daily Monday through Friday

  • Create and follow a batch-style schedule for:

    • daily fiction writing

    • pre- and post-production of fiction

    • fiction marketing

    • content creation for Savvy Authorpreneur

    • marketing for Savvy Authorpreneur

    • freelance work

    • learning from online courses

The magic happens in your day-to-day work. That's how you reach yearly goals.

As a mother (and aunt), it's almost impossible to follow a rigid schedule, but I'd like to work with flexible blocks of time, including time each week specifically for catching up where I've fallen behind. 

I also don't plan on working so much that I don't pay attention to my kids, so I'm scheduling in family time and free time too.

I've always had a pretty full plate so I've gotten pretty good at time management, but there's room for improvement at the moment.

In the past, I've done the best and been ultra productive when I schedule out my day according to my to-do list, everything from writing to working out to cleaning the kitchen. 

That's what I'm going back to in 2017.

And some other important goals:

Reading

I’ve read 30-40 books each year for the past few years after setting an initial goal of 26 books. This year, I want to read a lot more so I’m setting a goal of 50 books with the hope of making a good dent in my huge TBR.

Tidying

  • Go through all of my belongings (clothes, books, papers, etc) and decide whether to discard or keep each item

  • Find a home for each of the things that bring me joy

I just added this section while going over this post before pushing publish. I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last night, and it's already changed my mindset going into 2017.

While tidying may not be directly related to writing, I'm someone who gets stressed by mess and clutter, especially when I have a lot of work to do.

I've also found that I value a minimalistic and purpose-driven lifestyle the older I get, so while taking the time to tidy our home will take significant time, I'm convinced it will make a huge difference in my happiness and productivity this year.  

Health

  • Workout at least 6 times a week for 20 minutes

  • Eat food that makes me feel good and avoid junk as much as possible

  • Drink lots of water every day

  • Lose 10 more pounds.

This is more of a personal goal but still so important. I’ve definitely taken a break from working out or even eating right all the time the past month or so (and I can already see a difference, UGH), but I’m ready to jump back into my usual workout routine and good eating habits.

I just feel (and look) so much better when I do.

I also want to lose 10 more pounds and get into the 130’s range (for reference: I was in the 160’s just a couple of years ago so I’ve come a long way!). I’m pretty short at just 5’1”so this where I should be.

I have a feeling this won’t be easy, but I also know how important it is to get enough exercise and eat what’s good for you. This will all play a big role in how well I run my business as well!

Creating a Yearly Production Plan

So that’s what I’m aiming for in 2017! It’s a lot, and there’s a good chance I won’t do it all, but I’m still super excited for what’s to come!

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I've divided all of this up by quarter within a yearly production plan. It's easier to work on big goals when they're in chunks. Then I'll focus on those quarterly goals when I'm creating weekly and daily goals.

I still love and use Evernote for all my notes, but for my business and production plans I think I'm switching to WorkFlowy (my affiliate link, which will give you 2x the free space if you want to try it). It's just so much easier to not get lost in a giant doc.

I can’t wait to see where my business is at a year from now.

What are your goals for 2017?