We creatives write for a number of reasons. A true writer writes because he or she has to. At times, our desire to create overrides our desire for food, drink, even human contact. Other reasons writers write:
- I have a personal story to tell
- I have a sermon I want to broadcast
- I like to imagine fantasy worlds
- I like making up stories
- (Insert your own reason here)
I’d like to focus on the not-so-fun part of writing: the business side. Moving from unpublished writer to published author has given me a glimpse into how much work there is to do in addition to actually writing.
We want to cover our ears every time we hear blogs, newsletters, and workshops scream the words we love to hate: Build Your Platform! Use Social Media! Tweet! Blog! Go on Goodreads! Make Sure Your Website Is SEO’d!
If you’re writing to get published, you must think of your writing as a business, and you and your book are a product. The first step is to create a business plan. I like five-year goals, so I thought about where I’d like to be in five years. Then I created a year-by-year plan on how to get there. It looked like this:
- Finish MS #1
- Increase Twitter followers to 500
- Start outline for MS #2
- Write 2 articles and submit to magazines
- Attend 2 writer’s conferences
- Query agents/editors for MS #1
- Increase Twitter followers to 1,000
- Finish MS #2
- Publish MS #1
- Query agents/editors for MS #2
- Blog weekly
You get the picture. I didn’t reach every goal in the first two years, so I adjusted the following years’ goals to reflect the changes.
The second step is to break your goal into small steps. Do you want to be published in two years? How will you get there? Maybe it’s as simple as finishing an article and submitting it to a magazine. You’ll get a tremendous thrill when you receive your first check as payment for a well-written article or story.
Next, focus on your plan. Don’t be distracted by the publishing industry’s latest shiny object. If blogging isn’t your thing, don’t blog. If you hate social media, find one outlet where you can connect with others. Post your plan on a bulletin board or somewhere you can review it often.
Finally, pray. Remember, the God of the universe is your ultimate audience. If you are diligent, He will bring it to pass. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)