Going for gold – my targets for 2012

Does anyone actually keep their new year’s resolutions? I know I don’t. In fact, I’ve already broken three of the ones I considered for 2012.

However, I have been inspired today by both David Bishop (former editor of 2000AD) and Jonathan Green (author of the Pax Brittania series of novels). Each have publicly laid out professional targets for themselves and will report on them at the end of the year.

It’s a risky move, but I’m going to do the same. Make sure you head back regularly to see how I’m getting on! Jonathan has set himself 12 challenges, but I’m going to opt for just five. Whether they are achievable remains to be seen.

1) Complete 12 short stories.

I love reading short stories – and thanks to my kindle have been reading more than ever. I’ve always enjoyed writing them, but struggle to find the time. I’m determined that this year will be different. By the end of 2012, I want to have 12 new short works under my belt. This isn’t to see I’m going to write one a month, but with a couple of commissions already in the bag, I’m on the right track.

2) Work up three proposals for children’s books series.

The trouble with being a freelance writer is that you’re constantly balancing the need to pay the bills with finding the time to pitch for new work. At the moment I have at least four ideas for children’s books buzzing around my head. I need to set aside time to work these up into something resembling a saleable pitch. Of course, the pitch itself isn’t the end of the story. I then need to get them in front of agents and publishers, which is even more difficult.

The good news is that I’m (hopefully) heading in the right direction. In October last year, a major children’s publisher approached me to pitch for a series of kids’ tie-in books. I’m pleased to say I won the contract and have so far completed a storybook aimed at 9-10 year olds and am half way through writing an annual for the same property. Then there’s my ongoing work with Future Publishing’s Nitro magazine. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing a brand new comic strip for them and hopefully there’s more work in the pipeline. It’s a great foundation, so I’ve just got to pull my finger out and get some of these ideas onto paper.

3) Make at least one school visit.

There’s two main reasons that I’ve always wanted to write children’s books. First of all, I’m a big kid at heart (which explains my continued devotion to a certain children’s sci-fi show). Secondly, and most importantly, I would love to play a part in inspiring children not only to stick their noses in more books but also to explore creative writing themselves. With this in mind, I am hoping that  2012 will see me running creative writing workshops for 7-11 year olds. I better start approaching the local schools…

4) Get two new comic commissions.

This isn’t an easy task. Britain isn’t exactly known for its burgeoning comic scene, but I do have some experience and  a couple of contacts that I shamefully haven’t followed up yet. Another case of stop talking about it, and just getting on with it!

5) Get a new adult non-fiction book commission.

Just over two years ago I fulfilled a lifetime ambition when Countryfile: Perfect Days Out was published by BBC Books. Two further Countryfile books and last year’s Planet Dinosaur followed, but I’m not in the position when I can just sit back and wait for the phone to ring just yet.

So there you have it. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. There are the adult novels I’ve been tinkering with as well as the entire journalistic side of my business, but I’m determined that 2012 will be the year when I continue making inroads into book publishing.

Will I regret making my goals so public? We’ll see in 366 days…

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