Blogger: Wendy Lawton
It’s a given that before a writer is published he needs to hone his writing skills but what else can a writer do while he’s waiting to get that first contract? How can he seize the day? Here are eleven possibilities:
- Connect with other writers. Join a critique group. There’s nothing like having experienced readers for every chapter of your book. And each writer friend you make now will become a sojourner with you on this path to publication. No one understands this quest better than a fellow writer.
- Read voraciously and review the work of other writers. Some of those friendships that come from engaging with a writer about his or her book will help you with endorsements when your book is published. Besides, you must know what’s already out there and who is writing to similar audiences. This will help you analyze the competition and write that part of your proposal.
- Connect with bookstores. Long before you become a local author, you need to be a valued customer. If your bookstore manager knows you well before you ask for an in-store appearance, you will have an enthusiastic supporter.
- Connect with other readers. Join a book club. Start a book club. Hang out with readers. Go to readers conventions. Always collecting contact data along the way, of course. This can be the start of your all-important reader database.
- Organize your office for success. Writing is a business and takes an infrastructure to keep your business neat and efficient. Set up your files now. Set up a software program to manage your contact database. Create a space that makes you happy, makes you willing to stay in your chair for multiple hours a day. Set up financial books and get in the habit of tracking your writing expenses now. Make sure you know your equipment and keep it all in good working order. Back up your computer regularly–this habit could save your bacon when you are on a book deadline.
- Practice good writing habits. Get used to a writing schedule. Even if you don’t have a contract and a deadline, regularly time yourself and know what your writing rhythm looks like. One day your agent is going to present you with an offer, and she’s going to ask you how long it will take to write the next book. You don’t want to guess.
- Strategically build an online presence. Getting known is going to be a big step forward in catching an agent’s or editor’s attention. Figure out how you fit this into a busy life. Choose your platforms. If you plan to build a blog, spend serious time visiting and commenting on other blogs so there is potential reciprocity.
- Build a website. Now might be the perfect time to build a website. While it’s true you can’t build an author site just yet, experiment with a site so you have time to see what works and what doesn’t. Build it yourself if you have an inclination so you get all that experience under your belt.
- Attend writers conferences. This may be the one best way to connect with other writers, potential readers, agents and editors. A good conference ushers you into the community of writers. (Side Note: I’m getting ready to go to Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and would love to meet you in person.)
- Create an inventory of manuscripts and ideas. Don’t just have one manuscript. Most authors tell that their first book(s) never saw the light of day. As soon as you write “The End,” start your next book. Also, keep a file of ideas.
- Learn valuable skills now. You won’t have time later. Learn Evernote. Figure out how to use Mail Chimp or Constant Comment for e-newletters. (You can always volunteer to send out your church e-newsletters for practice.) Go into your Word program and figure out how Track Changes works–that’s the system your editor will most likely use in the editing process.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but you get the idea. Talk to any multi-published author. They’ll tell you they wish they had the time to [fill in the blank]. My advice? Seize the day.
So what else should you be doing while waiting for an agent or a contract? What did I miss? Published authors, please chime in. Tell us what you wish you had done while you had the time.
Forget twiddling your thumbs. Eleven things a writer should do pre-pub. Click to Tweet
A writer needs to seize the day long before that first contract. Click to Tweet
Ready, set, publish. Eleven things a writer needs to do to get ready and to get set. Click to Tweet