Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How to Navigate Today’s Publishing Industry P.2: Charting Your Course

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Pursuing publication can be a difficult and confusing feat for today's aspiring novelist. That's why I've created this series, How to Navigate Today's Publishing Industry. I want to help YOU, Aspiring Author, understand the path to publication by comparing it to a road trip. Because when you break it down to its rawest form, that's what this is, anyway. A journey. One that should continue long after you first reach the "destination" (publication).  

As I mentioned last week, today's aspiring author first needs the publication “address” (research how to become published). They can then plug it into the GPS (create mini-goals that may eventually lead them to their destination). Finally, it would be time to set off on the journey (which is impossible without perseverance). 

Now we’re going to cover how to “plug it into the GPS” by breaking apart the steps we discussed and creating mini-goals that will lead you to publication. Today we're going to focus on steps 1 - 2, and next week I'll continue by breaking down steps 3 - 5. 

→ Step 1: Writer writes the book. 

Charting the course:

This is the step many aspiring authors can’t seem to move past. Writing a book is not for the faint of heart! It requires time—a lot of it. And perseverance. Hard work. Determination to finish. These are all obstacles, and many aspiring authors can’t seem to move past these roadblocks. They may assume that, in order to be a published author, you have to have a completely free schedule and a “magical” ability to string words together in perfect order during that first draft. 

Here’s the truth: Every author has to squeeze writing into their lives. Even if writing is their only profession, there are several more responsibilities that today’s author has to juggle. If you wait for the perfect season of your life to begin your book—well, plan on waiting a long, long time. ;) 

The key here is to figure out a way to make writing a priority in your life. You have to realize that, even though you’re investing hours and hours into this project, it will be worth it. It’s important to view yourself as a professional writer even before you receive your first publishing contract.

How can you do this? By carving out a block of time each day and dedicating it to writing. Five minutes, or even five words, is better than nothing! If you can write one page a day for an entire year, then by next year you’ll have yourself a 365-page book. 

(It’s also important to note that you must give yourself permission to write an ugly first draft. The point of a first draft is to get the story down on paper. It doesn’t have to “look pretty” or even make sense until its revision stages.)   

Your book won’t be written unless you are persistent in protecting your writing time and making it a priority. One way to do this is by setting goals. Will you aim to write 500 words a day? Or will you aim to work on it for about an hour each day?

Write down these goals and treat them with respect. Don’t focus on the big picture of the project; rather, pour yourself into each day’s work. Challenge yourself with the goals you set, however be careful not to aim too high or you’ll risk becoming burnt out from the work.    

For more help on this subject, see the below post:

  •  How to Finish Your Book This Year by Creating Writing Goals 

  • → Step 2: While the writer writes the book, he/she also makes an effort to building an online presence. Today’s writer understands the importance of this in attracting attention from agents, publishers, and readers. They may also network with other writers on social media and the blogosphere during this time. 

    Charting the course:

    This is another step that today’s aspiring author often become hung up on. They become overwhelmed with the big picture of building a platform that they’re paralyzed and refuse to take the initial step into building an online presence. But what you have to realize is that anything is better than nothing—and if you don’t have anything online, then an agent isn’t likely to sign with you. 

    {Side story: I work as a Jr. Agent at Hartline Literary Agency for Cyle Young, and recently a publisher of a large house rejected a client's proposal. The reason? The publisher did a Google search of the writer and could not find a website, blog, or social media platform that belonged to this writer. Yes, zero online presence can result in zero publishing contract for today's aspiring author!}

    Start small and do what you can, when you can. But also keep in mind that building a platform/online presence must be a priority for today’s aspiring author as well. Agents and publishers request to see the author’s numbers in their proposals—yes, even if you’re a fiction writer. The majority of book sales are made online nowadays, and a publisher will want to see the potential you have in engaging an audience and selling books.

    Just like the above step, it’s important to be specific about the goals you set. Rather than writing down “I want to build a platform”, instead write a task that can be put into action, such as: “I want to build a Twitter and Facebook following”. Then set aside a block of time every week or every day that you can devote into building your following on these accounts.

    If you first focus on simply creating a following on social media, you can then take bigger steps, such as engaging your core audience, building a website, writing a blog, etc. But again, take each of these steps one at a time, and break them down into bite-sized pieces. 

    One book that I always recommend for writers who want to build their online presence is “ Connections ” by Edie Melson. I read this less than two years ago and have already seen tremendous results from following her advice!

    Remember: The most important thing about platform isn’t numbers; it’s engagement. Interaction. Building a connection with your core readership. 

    For more help on this subject, see the below posts:

    Next week, we’ll continue to “chart the course” and cover steps 3 - 5. =) 

    Again, if you have any questions about the publishing process, please let me know in the comments! 

    ~ ~ ~ 

    Questions for you...

    What do you find most difficult about steps 1 - 2? Would you prefer to write a book without having to build an online presence/following?



    1. I think the hardest part about number one (at least in the beginning) is the "doing it" part. Honestly, when I start writing a book during NaNo, those first few days and first week are brutal. XD It's hard to sit down and just do it, to get in the habit of putting words on paper. But once you're in the habit? Things start happening.

      So far I've actually enjoyed building a Twitter platform. It's fun to reach out and meet other like-minded writers/readers/people. But I guess the hardest part about that is the amount of people that follow you just so you'll follow them back. Then they'll un-follow you in the upcoming weeks. It's annoying, but I guess it's like that on all the platforms. XD

      Thank you so much for this series, Tessa! I'm trying to finish the first book in a trilogy this year, and simultaneously prepare to query and pitch to agents and editors by the end of the year. :)
      Jeneca @

      1. Yes! I can completely relate. There's almost an anxiety that keeps me from beginning a new project at times -- a fear that it won't be good enough. But once that faucet is turned on, the words don't stop flowing! It's an amazing feeling. <3

        Twitter is my favorite social media also. I seem to communicate better with words than images! There's more of a community of writers on there, too.

        I'm glad you found the post helpful! Thanks for commenting!



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