About The 2018 Author’s Journal
“In this hybrid planner for authors, the writer is guided through comprehensive workflows which address both the creative and business aspects of authorship. It is designed to maximize productivity, implement effective goal-setting practices, and maintain the author’s focus on achieving their writing, marketing, and publishing goals in 2018.”—Amazon description
I received a free PDF version of this planner in exchange for my honest review. I am also a current member of Hughey’s Author Transformation Alliance, which is a paid-membership support group for authors that focuses on the business, marketing, and social media aspects of being an author. Therefore, I participated in a few polls about preferences for the cover and what might or might not be included in the journal, but I did not see any of the content until I received my review copy.
The 2018 Author’s Journal is a combination guide and business planner for authors who have come to realize that they really do need to get a handle on the business end of writing if they are to succeed in today’s market.
If anything can be said about The 2018 Author’s Journal, it is that for the most part, it is ambitious. It covers many of the issues that authors face, especially those who are self-publishing or planning to do so.
Outside of the planner part, the book’s major sections cover author goals and goal refinement, works in progress, editing, story ideas, reading for relaxation and self-improvement, expenses and marketing, blog plans, and advertising. There is even a section for “squirrels” called My Musings.
There are several wonderful things about this planner.
The sheer number of topics that it covers makes it clear that Hughey’s goal was to be as comprehensive as possible, to make this an all-in-one stop for all your writing ideas, plans, goals, and achievements. This is the first such planner I’ve had the chance to look at, and it’s impressive and massive at 356 pages in an 8.5 × 11 inch trim size.
I doubt you’ll find so much author-friendly content and support in one planner, and it definitely has the potential, if used faithfully, to cut the number of sticky notes and miscellaneous notebooks that writers tend to accumulate. That in itself is a worthy accomplishment.I doubt you’ll find so much author-friendly content and support in one planner. It has the potential…to cut the number of sticky notes and miscellaneous notebooks that writers tend to accumulate. (Review, The 2018 Author's Journal) Click To Tweet
Honoring the Process
Unlike other planners, which might give you spaces to write your goals, Hughey’s gives you space to define, map, check, and evaluate refine your goals. She realizes that goal setting is like writing. We don’t usually get the plan right the first time. Our goals, like our words, sometimes need to get onto the page before we can properly evaluate them and make them better and truer to our style and abilities.
Honoring the Writer
The journal is available in several cover options (five at the moment, with possibly more to come). Hughey decided to offer the different styles as a hat tip to the different preferences of authors and their personal styles.
Purchase of the print journal grants access to a specialized digital resource guide, which includes videos, checklists, and spreadsheets to supplement the journal and guide the author through its use and adaptation.
The digital resource guide also includes videos from special guests on topics such as mindset, time management, and overcoming self-doubt and fear.
Space for Your Squirrels
The planner includes a whopping 40 pages dedicated to My Musings, space for you to write down all those ideas, plans, or just notes that might not fit anywhere else. As I mentioned earlier, this might just replace your pile of spiral notebooks, notepads, and sticky notes.
Some authors might be willing to pay the roughly $30 price of the planner for that feature alone.
Where You Were and How Far You’ve Come
In the marketing section of the planner, there is a section on visibility. This is something authors often don’t think about as many (not all!) are introverted and prefer instead to think of invisibility.
I found the table for tracking social media in terms of current and target followers helpful. We often don’t take the time at the beginning of the year to see where we are and then compare the same number at the end of the year to see how far we’ve come.
Hughey does this in many places in the planner, and this is just one example.
Although there is a quarterly follower breakdown, I would have loved to see a month-by-month breakdown of social media plans and followers in particular. This would be helpful for keeping track of what one has done with social media and how it has affected the number of (hopefully quality!) followers.
As an extension of having all of your writing stuff in one place, the journal includes space for up to 52 ideas for blog posts (or one per week).
I love this! Coming up with blog post ideas for both my editing and author websites is the bane of my existence. Losing ideas to some random sticky note purgatory is even worse. So, having this section is just icing on the cake.
I do wish there was more writing space here, however (more on this later).
Opportunities for Enhancement
I do hope this is not Hughey’s only year to produce this journal. With the growing number of author–entrepreneurs that has come with the expansion of the self-publishing industry, the need for something like this is significant.
However, there are a number of items that could be tweaked for maximum usability and convenience.
The great thing about The 2018 Author’s Journal is that it’s so comprehensive. The worst thing about this journal is that … it’s so comprehensive.
Unfortunately, there is so much text and content that the planner is very dense textwise.
In many areas, it seems that room to write—which is the point of a planner after all—has been sacrificed to “fit it all in.” (The exception to this is the My Musings section, which is basically 40 pages of blank lines for dates and notes.) There are many areas within the calendars themselves and after leading questions where you would have to write very small to fit any reasonable amount of text.
From the perspective of a book designer, it seems that less thought went into these practical aspects of actually using the journal day-to-day than to the content and guidance provided within. For example, some intro text was repeated monthly and could have been left out to offer more space for writing.
Alternatively, this journal might better serve authors as a two-book set: a business guide with all the content and instruction and a separate planner—the one that you carry around—with all the space you need to write.
Areas for More Focus
The Editing Process
Although most sections of The 2018 Author’s Journal are devoted to author marketing and promotion, not writing craft, there is a section devoted to the editing process. Anyone familiar with me or the Wordy Speculations blog knows I am 100% behind multiple rounds of self-editing and hiring a professional editor. Oddly, more focus is given to editing apps and software than the self-editing process itself or what one should expect from an editor.
However, with the exception of the place to take notes on pricing and evaluating editors, this section felt out of place amidst the business content of the rest of the journal. Also, by its very presence, it highlights the lack of any coverage of how to deal with cover design and interior book design, which, along with editing, are both part of the book production process and often entail hiring a professional.
The coverage of the author business that takes place after release is spread out and less organized than other topics in The 2018 Author’s Journal. To balance the Planning My Release and Preparing My Release sections, I would have loved to see something similar for marketing and managing your books after launch.
Given the importance of author newsletters, as stressed by Hughey herself, a planner or map for newsletter content, similar to what she includes for blogs, would have also been a great addition.
As it stands, The 2018 Author’s Journal is perfect-bound. With its sizeable length, this might make it difficult to write in for some, especially toward the middle of the book where the bulk of the monthly and weekly planners are. Coil, or spiral, binding would allow the journal to lie flat and would greatly add to its convenience.
This, unfortunately, is a limitation of self-publishing because most of the major print-on-demand services do not offer coil binding. However, one service does offer it, and Hughey has expressed interest in this binding for the future and/or for possible undated editions of the journal.
If you are looking for something to help guide you through all of those little business aspects of writing and publishing that your creative mind refuses to rein in, I highly recommend The 2018 Author’s Journal.
If you are looking for something to help guide you through all of those little business aspects of writing and publishing that your creative mind refuses to rein in, I highly recommend The 2018 Author’s Journal. Click To TweetWhile there is certainly room for improvement for future editions, overall, it’s a great planner, and it fills a very real need in the author–entrepreneurial space.
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