Blogger: Mary Keeley
I have a confession to make. Today’s blog is an update of a post I did last year at this time. I realized about midnight that the blog I had scheduled for today is too similar to one that one of the other agents blogged about last week. I don’t want to bore you with redundancy. If you remember the following post on goals and long-range planning, I hope you enjoy it as a reminder. If you didn’t read it the first time, it will be all new to you.
The topic of today’s post might seem a bit premature. After all, the leaves are just beginning to change color in many places. But when I counted the weeks left in the year to wrap up proposals and get them out to editors, the reality struck me: there really are only nine weeks left for business to take place this year.
Every area of this wonderful but unpredictable publishing industry requires long-range planning and goal setting. For example, publishers currently are planning and budgeting for their 2016 releases. Product managers are working with acquisitions editors, designers, typesetting and editorial departments to create each book’s production schedule. After Thanksgiving, editors stop reviewing proposals and concentrate instead on getting current projects ready for the printer before they take time off during the Christmas holidays.
With this in mind, how might you need to adjust your writing plan for the remainder of the year? It might entail making an adjustment to your expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to set goals for ourselves. Especially so for writers. Goals and contract due dates keep authors motivated and disciplined. But, speaking to unpublished authors, don’t let them become like a ball and chain around your neck, dragging you down to discouragement when it’s apparent you won’t reach all of them despite your hardest effort.
Instead, take inventory of how well your writing is moving along at this point and adjust your year-end goals or find a way to double your efforts where necessary. All with an optimistic outlook and pure trust in the One who is in charge of Everything. Here are sample scenarios:
- If all your manuscript needs is a thorough proofreading, you have time to get that done and potentially for your agent to shop it to editors yet this year. Unpublished authors still have time to secure an agent if your proposal and manuscript are edited, copy edited, and polished to a shine.
- Perhaps research took longer than you expected because you found the most incredible details that will add depth to your book. Take the pressure of a self-inflicted submission goal off your shoulders and instead, rejoice! Your unexpected find might cause you to miss a goal to submit your proposal this year, but you’ve enhanced the ultimate goal to make your debut book the best it can be.
- When you get a contract, due dates aren’t adjustable. But hopefully, you have followed your long-term plan, which included padding for the unexpected. Once one of my clients got an email from her editor asking if she could turn in both manuscripts early because the publisher wants to move her two books, scheduled for a 2015 simultaneous release, up to Fall 2014. My client had planned well—doubly well, in fact—and was able to respond, “Sure, I can send you one manuscript tomorrow and the other one next week when the proofreading is complete.” Her editor was thrilled. My client scored major points with her publisher, and she is ecstatic that her books will be published months earlier. Ah, the benefits of long-range planning and follow-through.
Goals and long-range planning are two of the writer’s best tools in your professional toolbox. When you build in room for flexibility, they can become a writer’s best assets both for your own positive outlook and also in your relationships with your agent, your editor, and your publisher.
Which of your writing goals is your biggest challenge at this point in the year? What realistic adjustments can you make to keep your outlook positive? What long-range planning lessons have you learned from personal experience?
Goal adjustments and long-range planning: necessary tools for an optimistic author. Click to Tweet.
Avoid discouragement. Adjust self-imposed writing goals when it’s apparent they can’t be met. Click to Tweet.