Thursday, June 28, 2012

Keeping It All Together: Organization Tips for Writers – Part II

Well, after springing my laptop from the hospital (geek squad), I am finally able to post the second section of this post.  In the first part, we focused on Initiation – which serves as the launch for your project.
In this portion, we will cover Planning and Execution.
Step 2: Planning
This may require a little practice before diving right in.  You’ll find that it will become easier  over time, much like your writing, and you will kind of know better in advance what’s needed down the road.
Think about things like:
·         Time – So, we said that our hypothetical project will require us to write 2709 words a week.  When are you going to do that? All in one day – Saturday morning in your writing cave? That may not be realistic if you have a touchy muse that usually shows up at midnight.  Set a realistic time schedule for your writing and then stick to that. No matter what happens.  This will work better is you consider everything that you have to do in a day first and select the least busy time.
·         Research – I don’t know of any author that doesn’t do research.  With that in mind, time should be allotted for you to accomplish this task in your project.  Will all of your research be internet based, or will you actually have to travel to another location?  Do you need to do a ride along with a cop for your crime thriller?  If your locale is fictional, make time to draft a map of your hero and heroine’s town/country/world.  This is exceptionally useful for series.  Trust me, your readers want you to paint a vivid picture, and adequate research will help you do just that.
·         Risks – What could and will likely go wrong over the course of this project? Identify those issues and find ways to mitigate that risk.  For instance, if you are taking a month long workshop later in the year and that happens to be around the time that you plan to edit, you may need to widen the amount of time allotted for the editing tasks in the event that you have vast amounts of homework.
·         Submissions– What is the lead-time for submitting the first three chapters to a publisher or agent? When would you like to do this? After the first session of edits? Consider also that you may not want to submit an incomplete manuscript, so don’t make it too early in the life of the project.
In this stage, you will want to firm up that commitment that you are making to yourself in this endeavor.  All of the tasks should have a time bound deliverable on them.  The most difficulty is presented in meeting them.  If you have timeline issues, admit that to yourself and make sure that you identify that by giving yourself enough rope so that one missed deadline doesn’t compromise the whole project.

Incorporate all of these identified tasks and issues/risks into the earlier project plan.  In step 1, you have clearly stated what you want to happen overall.  This section should include all the steps necessary to accomplish the overall goals. 
Step 3: Execution
Here, we focus on the final steps before publication or acceptance by a publisher.  This step takes into consideration that you have completed your novel, on time or perhaps even earlier depending on how diligent you are.  You will still need to plan for these action items.  You may want to think about a few of them prior to completion of the novel, but they absolutely must be accomplished by the time you publish.  Following submission, you will need something to do while waiting to hear back from all those editors and publishers that are reviewing your manuscript.
You have probably heard all of this in the past, considering you most likely found your way here by some social networking site or through another author friend’s referral.  I’ll list them again because it never hurts to revisit good information.
1.       Establish a presence on the internet: Beyond just Twitter and Facebook, have you joined a local chapter of RWA or an author website such as Savvy Authors?  You probably aren’t surprised that networking in the author community is extremely important.  Not only do you stand a chance to learn something from the people that you encounter, it also lends to your online presence.  This is a necessity, especially now days when publishers ask you to include your social networking URLs in your query.  While establishing your presence, be sure to consider the following:
a.       Always be pleasant and approachable.
b.      Dedicate time for networking, even if it’s only ten minutes a day.
c.       Don’t spam! People hate that. Make sure that every link that you post has some value to not only you, but others as well.
d.      Don’t beg or appear desperate for people to read your blog or follow you.  If you are relevant, pleasant and personable, people will eventually stop by your blog and follow/like you.
e.      Don’t email or direct message people your entire backlist.  If they have just followed you,  they don’t know you to want your book.
f.        Build relationships, not followers. Be sure to get to know the person for who they are and not as simply as another person to add to your list.  It will come through in your communications with them.
2.       Blogging is another good way to build your brand.  It gives people an opportunity to see who you are and to hear your voice.  It doesn’t have to be ten page long posts.  Most people like to read about 600 words per post.  Obviously, I’m slightly over that mark in this one.
3.       Set up a website that looks professional. It should represent your sense of style and how you want to be seen by your audience.   If you write for more than one genre, perhaps you would want more than one website. Be sure to include the varied ways to obtain your books. Be sure to link it to your Twitter, FaceBook and Blog sites.
4.       Finally, consider new ways to market your work.  There are apps that you can set up for mobile devices and many other new ideas that you may find fits into your brand concept.
Just like in the other portions of your plan, be sure to set up ample time for any and all tools that you decide to employ. 
Of course, none of this means anything if you don’t follow the schedules that you’ve set in this plan.  You have to dedicate the time if you intend to be successful.  This is simply a way of organizing it so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. 
My best advice is that you should set aside an hour or two each day, which are dedicated to getting your work done, regardless of what section that you happen to be on at the time.
Once you have a clear path of what needs to be accomplished, you’ll feel as if you have more time and you will be able to fit in some of the other more fun things that you may be missing without organization.
I hope this helps you as much as it did me.  I’m still new to it but I do feel like I have a better handle on my writing career than before.
Feel free to leave me questions or comments here.
Until next time, take care of yourself.


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