Coming up with an effective “plan”

This morning, while dealing with the wintry precipitation on my sidewalks and driveway, an illustration of shovelling snow and the process of planning one’s publishing/writing career came to mind.  Yes, even while pushing snow around, publishing still is at the forefront of my mind.

1.  Look at the bigger picture – determine where your book will fit within a particular category, and within the larger publishing industry.  

Wintery illustration:  If one is shovelling snow in 40 mph winds, it’s a good idea to hit the spots that are absolutely necessary.  Why would one shovel the lawn when only the sidewalks and driveway are necessary? 

Take this approach with publishing.  Why would a writer be too broad with a book idea?  It’s much better to narrow down the topic/approach, so that one’s writing voice is truly effective.

2.  Choose a path – One needs to determine the initial marketing plan (i.e. writing platform) hand-in-hand with developing one’s book idea.

 Wintery illustration:  To use the snow blower or the shovel?  Using the shovel means it’ll take longer to remove the snow.  Using the snow blower will obviously hasten the process.  However using the snow blower in 40 mph winds may result in more work, i.e. the snow blowing back at the snow remover.  Yet, using the shovel, and choosing the perfect starting point and methodically removing the snow to a designated stopping point = less work, and less need to “redo” it. 

There’s nothing more discouraging than seeing a wonderful book idea for a first-time writer, only to realize that the person has no writing platform.  It’s evident the writer has put his/her heart into the process of writing the book, but sadly didn’t develop a marketing plan to go along with it.  I always look at the book idea and the writer’s “platform,” as most editors will want to see strength in both of these areas.   If it seems the author can take care of the “platform,” there’s still a chance I’ll work with him/her.   It just means that the writer will need to work on this area before we can move forward with the submission proccess to the publishers.

My advice?  Think about how to promote yourself, use social networks, join organizations that advocate and support writing, and more.  Meanwhile develop one’s writing voice simlutaneously.  It’ll save time, patience, and bring a sense of fulfillment to the writing experience.

3.  Be prepared –  Put on your figurative armor.  Do the best you can do, and don’t take the rejections too personally.  

Wintery illustration:  One thing that is necessary is good bundling for the shovelling process.  A good coat, scarf, mittens, and clothes layering is absolutely necessary.  Assume it will be cold, so prepare accordingly.  Hence the 40 mph winds will not make the shoveller cold; thereby the shoveller is able to “weather” the experience.

Everyone knows that getting published requires thick skin, as any editor can only take on a limited # of projects.  With the high rejection rates (from both agents & editors), the best thing any writer can do is be prepared. In addition to having a marketing plan in working progress, any author should put on his/her figurative armor.  Instead of getting overly emotional due to rejections, remember the armor you are wearing-that this is a normal process. 

4. Alter your plan as needed – If one’s marketing plan and/or writing voice isn’t working, take the time to edit/tweak the weak spots.  It will be to one’s advantage.

Wintery illustration:  Let’s say that despite Point A (starting point) and Point B (the end point) having been pre-determined, they aren’t resulting in the best (or most efficient) shovelling “path.”  The back is hurting, the snow is deeper than initially expected, and it’s hard to keep a positive attitude.  Reevaluate where to start & end again, and move on with the new plan.

No writer should finish a book, only to realize later that the entire book needs to be re-written.  Talk about frustrating!  Taking the time to have others critique one’s writing (during the writing process) is a good thing.  Not only will it strengthen the book and one’s chance of getting published, but one will be able to determine if the storyline is on track.  Ultimately if the book isn’t working, a new path can be determined before completion.

Any questions?  Let me know.