Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Several of you in our blog community are right on the verge of submitting and/or publishing. I’ve written before of things to do while you wait, but today I’m going to give you a checklist of some very specific things you can do today that will set you up for success.
Learn to use the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word. This, along with the Comments feature is how your editor will deliver edits to you. If you search YouTube you’ll find a number of tutorials. This is a good one. If you are in a critique group, using track changes for your critique process would gain you excellent experience.
Develop a system for online filing of documents. You are going to want to do folders within folders. In your documents file you will have folders for all the segments of your life. For example, you may have folders for Church, Computer, Conferences, Family, Health, Humor, Quotes, Promotion, Receipts, Speaking, Travel, Work, Writing, etc., etc. Each person’s collection of folders will be different.
Organize your writing folder. Inside your writing folder you will probably have a folder for Articles, maybe one for Anthologies, and another for Books. You’ll have others for things like Promo Ideas, Reader Mail, Submission Tracking, Writer’s Helps, etc. While you are setting these up, look at every file you have and figure out the category and whether you need a folder for that group of documents. This exercise will help you understand the different aspects of publishing, help prepare you to stay organized, and allow you to find any file quickly and intuitively.
Develop a system for storing all parts of each project. Inside each project (book or article) file you may have a more detailed submission tracker for that project. You’ll have the query, the proposal, the most current manuscript, a folder for obsolete versions of the manuscript, a folder for research material, etc. Eventually you’ll have a contract folder, a publicity and promotion folder, editor correspondence folder, etc.– all in that project folder.
Think hard about how you will name each file. Develop a system– like the initials of the working title and the date of the most recent edit. For example, if John Doe’s working title were The Heart’s True Home he might title the file: DoeTHTH51314. That way when he sends that file to an agent or publisher and it gets separated from the email, we can see the author name without opening the file. And you’ll never get confused about which manuscript is the most recent because the date is embedded in the file name.
Get your reader database file set up and begin collecting names of those who’ve already asked you to let them know when your book is available. I talk a little more about that here. Decide what information you are going to find valuable as your career grows and set up a field for each. Don’t forget that physical location is important since you’ll want to be able to reach readers regionally if you are going to be doing an event in their area.
Hone your email processing system. Don’t get into bad habits. Create a methodology for handling email and make it a habit. When you get to the point where you receive hundreds of emails each week this will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Build your online community. We talk so much about this, I don’t want to repeat myself but if you can work on your social network now, you’ll have everything in place when you need to use that network to get the word out about your book. Don’t forget, this means building up a huge account of good will– helping others and connecting selflessly– so that when it’s time for you to ask for help you’ve already built up a community ready to give back to you.
So that’s certainly not an exhaustive list. How many of these things are you already doing? What else are you doing that I haven’t mentioned? Do have some spiffy systems we’d love to hear about. (Confession: I LOVE talking organization and systems.)
Eight practical tasks to do while waiting to publish. Click to Tweet
Forget twiddling thumbs, waiting to be published. Get ready for success. Click to Tweet