Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Branding 101—Mission Statement and Goals by Patty Smith Hall

The closing of Lifeway’s brick and mortar stores shook me out of my comfort zone. For the past ten years, I’ve been blessed with continuous contracts, and while we haven’t been able to retire, it was nice to see my work gracing the bookstore shelves.

With Lifeway’s announcement and the ever-shrinking shelf space at Barnes and Noble, I realized it was time to re-evaluate and possibly reinvent myself for the changing market. Yet, how does a mid-list writer do this is the world of Amazon, Facebook, podcasts and You-tube?

I needed to revamp my mission statement and make a new set of writing goals.

Why make a mission statement and goals? Because what’s the point of branding yourself if you don’t know why you write in the first place? For me, a mission statement is my anchor. It’s the deep down-in-my-soul reason I stand at my kitchen counter for hours and write. It can be as complex—and I’ve seen some where I’ve needed a dictionary to decipher—or as simple as you like. The most important thing is that this statement reflects your core reason for writing.

I’ll be honest—I didn’t have a mission statement until this year. For most of the last ten years, I’ve concerned myself with getting and staying published. While that’s all good and nice, writing to get published can’t be the only reason a person suffers through writing a synopsis or a proposal. There has to be more to it, something one desires to accomplish with their writing.

My mission statement is simple—To glorify God in all facets of my writing. That just doesn’t mean the words I put down on paper. It includes the way I conduct business with agents and editors, how I start my daily writing time, the way I encourage other writers, even making the time to rest or take a break after a long writing sprint. Simple, yet effective.

Here are some questions you can use in developing your mission statement:

1) What makes me write?

2) What do I want to accomplish through my writing? This can be a monetary value, a fan base or like mine, reaching others for Christ. Whatever it is, it has to be the most important objective for you.

3) When I think about my writing, how do I measure my success? Is it the number of books sold or money from sales or something else entirely?

Goals are simple. They’re what make our world function. They give each one of us purpose, something to strive toward. They keep us on track and remind us what we’re working toward and how to get there. I use weekly, monthly and yearly goals.

How to use Goals:

1) First, write your goals down.

Every Sunday afternoon, I sit down and write my goals for the week. I figure out how many words I’d like to have written in the next week, then I make a plan on how to get them. In my goal-planning, I also include housekeeping, meal preparation and Bible time. Once I finish writing them down, I put them in a place where I can see them every day and mark off my progress.

2) Make your goals quantifiable. Every day, I know how many words I need to get down in order to reach my word count for the week. If I don’t make it, I may have to work on a Saturday or add words to my daily counts. If I write more, I give myself a little treat!

3) Give your goals a time limit. Deadlines are great reminders of this. Once I sign a contract, I have a certain period of time until I have to turn in a manuscript, or I’ll be in violation of the terms of the contract and that’s not a good thing to be. If you’re pre-pubbed, set deadlines for yourself and stick with them. You’ll not only make your goal; you’ll be getting into a habit that will help you when you do get the call.

4) Update your goals occasionally. Ten years ago, my only goal was to get published, and while that’s still a goal, it’s not the only thing I want to do now. Another reason to do this is the rapidly changing landscape of publishing. Ten years ago, the thought of Borders, Family Christian and Lifeway closing up was unthinkable. Also, when you achieve your goal, make another one to keep you focused. So, change your goals to reflect the times.

Homework: Work on your mission statement and goals for the month.


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.