ABCs of Writing (Marketing #10)

In retrospect, I realize I started this series all wrong. The very first step to marketing your work as a writer is, in fact, to WRITE.

The ABCs of writing are simple. Apply Butt to Chair. In other words, sit down and type.

I know this sounds overly simple, but ask any seasoned author, and she will tell you the same thing. Book sales for an author’s backlist increase when a new book is released. Simply put, this means that the larger your backlist, the more you’ll earn. In order to do that, however, readers need to know that your books are available to be read.

Here are some tools to help you, as an author, stay focused on your writing goals:

  1. Publishing is a business. Sure, writing is a catharsis. It’s a creative process that should be fulfilling in some way. Publishing, however, is a business. Once you’ve signed a contract, you have attached a business expectation to your creative process. Approach it with that in mind.
  2. Know your goals. It’s not enough to look at the publication date set by your publisher. Yes, it’s shiny and pretty and you want to show it off to all your friends, but it can also be a distraction. Your writing schedule is different than your publishing schedule. For example, if you can write a book in three months–assuming it’s not a steaming pile of kack because you rushed–then you should hold yourself to that.
  3. Plan ahead. This is true in many areas of life, but especially so with long-term goals, such as writing. What I mean by this is it’s not enough to know what book I’m writing right now. I also need to know what I’m writing after that. And after that. The more solid your yearly writing plan is, the less down time you will need between books.
  4. Write it down. Find a system of planning that works for you and stick to it. Me, I write titles and rough sketches on index card and tack it to a bulletin board. The board is separated into two sections. The top half features my plan for the next 18-24 months. The cards in this section are in rows based on chronological order. Also, the deadline for each is written in the top right corner and highlighted. The bottom half features a cluster of cards that haven’t yet been moved up. Every time I have an idea for a novel, I write it on a card and add it to this section. Then, as I finish a project, another gets moved to the top section with a deadline.
  5. Keep score. Know how many words you need to complete a project. How many do you need to write a day? A week? A month? A quarter? A year? I have a simple spreadsheet that I use. It features three tables, one month for each table. Beneath the month, is three columns: date; daily word count; running total. This system works for me. I also add notations at the bottom for when specific books are due.
  6. Find a buddy. Writing can be a solitary process. Find someone who has similar goals and hold each other accountable. This can be done online or in real life. Join a writing group or meet up with a writing partner on a regular basis or something else that works for you.

The key to all of these suggestions is the same. Find what works for you and stick with it. After all, the best marketing in the world can’t help you if you have nothing to sell.

So, my writerly friends, what is your system? What are you working on?

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