By Jessa Slade
Is it too late for you to be a doctor or lawyer or shoe salesman? Yes? Damn, sorry. Well, if you’re doomed to be a working writer, here’s one thing (not the only thing, mind, or even the most important thing, but a thing) I think you should know before publishing:
Have a strategy.
I know this is sort of boring, business-y advice, but it’s something I wish I’d done. I’ve always been more interested in the art of writing than the business side, and that hasn’t helped my publishing career. I’ve made decisions on a whim and spread myself too thin. I’ve jumped on good opportunities that I haven’t been able to capitalize on. I’m playing catch-up now, learning the boring business side on the fly* and trying to retrofit a plan to multiple pen names and titles when having a strategy from the start would have been easier and likely more profitable.
1. What do I want out of publishing? (A traditional contract? Self-publishing control? A one-and-done books just so I can say I did it? Fame and riches?)
2. How can my personal strengths support my publishing goals? (And if my skill set isn’t sufficient to reach my goals, should I be rethinking my plan?)
3. What creative and business choices are likely to contribute to my success? (How can I make my stories even more appealing to my sort of readers? Who are the key players around me and what can I learn from them?)
4. How am I going to implement my plan? (What is my timeline? Who is going to be on my publishing team? What else do I need to know?)
5. Eh, ef it. Let’s do this thing!
Once you are published, the situation gets much more chaotic. You have to oversee the released book** while managing the pipeline on the next books and at the same time looking ahead to possibly changing your strategy based on how your plan is executing. You will never have more time and less stress than you do before you publish, so make the best use of those brain cells to position yourself properly. In the end, you’ll probably find you rushed the process anyway (thanks a lot, #5) and made mistakes, but having strategized once, you’ll be able to salvage the best pieces and rethink as necessary.
I take a certain amount of twisted comfort in knowing that I can revise my career at least as much as I revise my stories. :)
* The world of publishing is going through a lot of changes, and I don’t see it coming to a peaceful status quo anytime soon, so learning is going to be an on-going task. I just remind myself learning new things is good for my brain.
** Even traditionally published authors are finding that many of the tasks involved in making a book successful are falling on their shoulders.
If you have a creative or business strategy that worked out well for you -- or that failed miserably! -- please share so we can all learn more.
Bio: There are too many cool worlds to explore! Which is how Jessa Slade got started writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy romance and science fiction romance… but then dabbled in hot contemporary romance as Jenna Dales…and now also writes sexy shapeshifting romance as Elsa Jade. All her worlds feature mighty alpha males and strong, smart heroines with a bit of attitude. You can get QUEEN OF STARLIGHT free most places ebooks are sold or HERO for 99¢ at Amazon or free with Kindle Unlimited.
You can find her online in the usual haunts: