12 – Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

Posted May 4, 2020 | Laura Christianson
The Professional Writer podcast with Laura Christianson | BloggingBistro.com
The Professional Writer
12 – Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals


When authors learn they’re expected to do most or all of their own book marketing, many of them freak out. “I can’t do this! I’m a writer, not a marketer!”

If you’re in the freaking-out stage, you may love today’s episode. Or you may hate it.

Because I’m going to challenge you to replace excuses you might be making about your inability to market your book with a big, hairy, audacious goal for marketing your book.

Then I’m going to introduce you to a step-by-step process to get you consistently taking the actions that will move you toward achieving your dream goal.

Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals | Episode #12 of the Professional Writer Podcast, with Laura Christianson | BloggingBistro.com

Learn with Laura

  • Ready to set a big, hairy, audacious goal for marketing your book or your writing-related business?
  • Want help developing an actionable plan that will move you towards achieving the result you want?

Schedule a FREE quick chat (via phone or Zoom) with me. During our 15 minutes together, we’ll discuss where you’re feeling stuck and we’ll hammer out a plan to get you un-stuck.

How to Keep Up With the Show

Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business from Laura Christianson of BloggingBistro.com

Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode.  (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.)

Join The Professional Writer Podcast Community (private Facebook group), where we discuss what we’re learning, meet our guests, and encourage one another on our writing journeys.

If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them:


Thank you!


Read the Transcript

Episode #12 – Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

I was chatting with a pre-published author who has a book coming out in three months with a small independent publisher. Because this publishing house is small, they don’t have a marketing department, so their authors are responsible for 100% of marketing their own books.

This scenario is common, even among the larger publishing houses that DO have marketing teams. Because, the larger the publishing house, the more books they publish. While they’ll allocate a good chunk of change and human resources towards marketing the book of a best-selling author, B-listers and C-listers and first-time authors often get minimal marketing support.

I’m going to make a bold statement here, but one I believe to be true: If you’re hoping to publish a book or you’re in the process of getting one published, you absolutely must have the mindset that YOU are going to be 100% responsible for getting your book into the hands of the people who most need to read it.

100%. Your publisher may purchase an ad in a trade magazine or design and print bookmarks or postcards, or make your book available on NetGalley so people can review an advance copy. They might foot the bill for your author website or run a sweepstakes contest on your behalf. If they help you out with those things, consider yourself very, very fortunate.

But most authors are going to do most, if not all, of the marketing themselves. So you have to approach writing a book with the mindset that you are not only the author; you are the marketer. The two go hand-in-hand.

This is why so many books utterly fail when it comes to book sales. Authors aren’t willing to learn how to promote and market their books, so they make excuses like, “I’m a writer, not a marketer.”

No, you’re not. If you’re a writer, you’re also a marketer. You can’t have one without the other.

It’s like saying, “I’m going to make a loaf of bread.” You mix the ingredients, you knead the dough, you punch it down, and you let it rise.  But you don’t put it in the oven. What happens if you don’t bake it? Nothing; that’s what. You’re left with beautiful dough that you can’t eat and has to be dumped in the trash.

Thinking that you’re not a marketer is like not baking your bread. Baking the dough is a critical step of the process that, when ignored or left out, leaves you with a useless, inedible mess.

So, let’s say you are coming to terms with the fact that you are responsible for marketing your book. Here’s the place where a lot of authors veer off track.

They say, usually in a resigned tone of voice, “Ok, ok, I realize I’m going to have to market my own book. But I’m busy writing it now, so I’ll wait to start marketing it until three months before its release date.”

Remember how I just emphatically told you that writing and marketing a book go hand-in-hand? In reality, the minute you have an idea for a book – before you even write the first word – you need to be planning how you’ll market it.

By waiting until 3 months – or worse yet, 3 weeks – before your book is released to start thinking about how you’ll market it, you are setting yourself up for failure.

I know… these are harsh words and you probably don’t want to hear them. But I share it because I want your book to sell, and for you to grow to enjoy the entire book-publishing process, including the marketing part.

And I am not making up these stories. Author after author after author has come to me, saying, “My book is coming out in 3 months, and I have absolutely no idea what to do next.”

I ask them what marketing efforts they’ve been working on so far, and their response is usually something like, “I’ve been trying to put together a website. But that tech stuff is so frustrating and it takes forever to learn it!”

Or, “I’ve been blogging. But the topics I’ve been blogging on haven’t really related to the focus of my upcoming  book.”

Or, the biggest time-waster of all, “I’ve been posting about it on social media. But no one is liking or commenting on my posts.”

Because they don’t know what to do and what order to do those things in, authors fritter away tons of time doing the wrong things in the wrong order.

I get it. Figuring out what to do and in what order to do them is truly frightening for many authors. This week alone, I’ve heard from several authors who confided that they’re “stuck,” “paralyzed,” and “frozen with indecision.”  When we get scared to the point of paralysis, we convince ourselves we don’t really have to do anything. Our book will just magically market itself.

The other excuse I sometimes hear from Christian authors who are feeling stuck is, God gave me the words for my book so God will market it for me.

I firmly believe in the power of prayer, and I also believe that God inspires the creativity and imagination and themes and words that appear in many books. But God didn’t write your book. You wrote it, with God’s help. In the same manner, God won’t market your book. You will, with God’s help.

What I’m going to propose today is that you dream up a big, hairy, audacious goal for marketing your book. What’s a dream goal that seems practically impossible, but in a perfect world, would come true?

Some people don’t like the word “goal” because they say it’s too nebulous. They prefer to use “aspiration” or “outcome” or “result.” Choose the word you like best and insert it every time I say the word “goal.”

Back to my question: What’s a dream goal (or aspiration or outcome) that seems practically impossible, but in a perfect world, would come true?

Maybe you’d love to sell 100,000 copies of your book. Or earn $100,000 in sales this year.

If you’re setting this goal today, chances are that you’ve sold zero books to date. Or earned zero dollars. And that’s normal, because every single one of us starts at zero.

But right at the beginning of setting our BHA goal is where many of us get sidetracked.  We set our BHA goal and we assume we’re going to sell 100,000 books this month or earn $100,000 in sales this month.

So we set our goal and we sit back and wait for it to happen. But unless our name is James Patterson or Nora Roberts or Michelle Obama, it doesn’t happen.

And when it doesn’t happen, we give up.

The culture in which we live thrives on instant gratification. And frankly, that’s not a viable recipe for building a writing business.

Yeah, we can all name first-time authors whose books instantly land on the best-seller list and stayed there for months. But those authors are an anomaly, representing less than 1% of all published authors.

For most of us, selling 100,000 copies is BHA goal that you’ll meet only as you consistently take action that will keep you moving forward.

Having a BHA goal is fantastic, and I highly recommend that you set one. But an important piece of meeting that goal is having a well-defined plan of action to achieve it, so you don’t bounce all over the place, trying all the things.

In the coaching I do with clients, I help them reverse-engineer their BHA goal so they’re less likely to get paralyzed or stuck and they continue making forward progress.

We start with a 3-year goal – that’s the BHA goal, and then we clearly define 1-year goals, 90-day strategies, weekly actions and daily habits that will help us make consistent progress towards reaching our BHA goal.

Think of your BHA goal or your 3-year goal as your big-picture vision. Why am I doing this? Where do I want to be in 3 years? What structure do I need to put in place to help make this happen?

Your 1-year goal encompasses the key systems, products, services and so on that need to be in place one year from now in order to be on track for your 3-year vision.

Your 90-day strategy is where things start to get fun. During this 3-month period, you focus on only three action items you need to complete to reach your 1-year goal.

Finally, your weekly action steps include three items you commit to doing right now, this week, that will enable you to reach your 90-day strategy. At least one of these action steps needs to be so simple that it would be as easy for you to NOT do it as it is to do it. In other words, it’s so small and simple that you can and will accomplish it, which will instantly help you gain momentum and will motivate you to continue working on your other 2 weekly action steps.

As you take weekly action steps consistently, week after week, you’ll discover that you’re making faster progress than you would have imagined at first, and you may be ready and able to ramp up to bigger challenges.

To sum up, what you do right now, this week, points to your 90-day strategy, which points to your 1-year goal, which points to your 3-year BHA vision.

Everything you do eliminates wasted time and money.  Because we have limited time to build our writing business, so we need to know that our time is being used in fruitful and productive ways that produce results.

As you work to achieve your goal, expect that you will experience failures along the way. Just expect it! Because NO ONE experiences only wins along the way. Ask anyone who has achieved a BHA goal and they will tell you that they encountered lots of setbacks and roadblocks and they made tons of mistakes and tried stuff that utterly failed all along the way.

The difference between them and people who don’t achieve their BHA goals is that they refused to use failure as an excuse to feel bad about themselves or to give up.  Do not beat yourself up when you experience failure. Keep doing those small daily action steps and celebrate every little success.

Small, simple goals aren’t sexy. But they are sustainable, and they’re going to give you a much better chance to get the outcome you want.

So, let’s go back to our BHA goal of selling 100,000 books in the next 3 years.

But let’s say you sold zero books last week. Your goal for this week can be to sell 10 books.

Because if you want to sell 100,000, you first have to sell 10.

The key is to focus not just on the BHA goal, but to what you can do TODAY that will begin moving you towards your ultimate goal. What small, consistent actions can you take this week?

Think big. Act small.

These small, consistent actions are SO important, and they are the #1 reason people come to me for coaching.

If, after listening to this episode, you’re thinking, yes, I am willing to commit to taking 100% of the responsibility to market my own book.

I’m ready and willing to set a BHA goal and develop an actionable plan that will move me towards achieving the result I want to happen.

I’m not sure what to do first, second, or third and I need help figuring this whole thing out.

Contact me and ask about setting up one-to-one coaching. Together, we’ll create a marketing plan for your book, and I’ll be your accountability partner and cheerleader as you work to reach your BHA goal.