Blogger: Wendy Lawton
A few years ago I talked about what a writer needs to do while he or she waits for publication. I thought of it again while I was in Minnesota recently, stressing how important it is to build your database from day one. I think this concept of what to do While U Wait deserves to be repeated.
I grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco. It was a magical place for a child to live– corner stores on every block. Many of our neighbors lived above retail establishments. The closest was a Chinese laundry owned by our friend Honey Lee’s parents. They had a big sign in the window that offered dry cleaning and alterations “While U Wait.” On a table inside was a box of old Mahjong tiles in case anyone wanted to play while they waited. We rarely saw anyone take them up on their offer, though we often teased about the possibilities. To a pack of ten-year-old kids nothing seemed funnier than imagining a man in his drawers waiting for his slacks to be stitched.
That While U Wait sign stayed with me. I was not very good at waiting and yet, I’d hate to try to figure out what percentage of my life has been spent waiting for something or someone. Seeking to be become a published author is the grandfather of all waits.The good news is, there’s plenty that can be accomplished during the wait. Let me just highlight a few things:
- Hone Your Craft— Never again will you have the time to lavish on a manuscript. Learn everything you can now and enjoy writing sans pressure.
- Build Your Network of Peers— This is the time to get to know other writers. These are the people who will help influence, endorse your books and commiserate with you along the journey.
- Gather Your Tribe— It’s true you have no readers until you have a book out there but identifying your readers and beginning to “hang out” with them online is one of the best things you can do. If you are writing, say, in the field of productivity, find the blogs and networks where productivity aficionados hang out. Participate. Give much more than you receive. It is all part of earning a readership.
- Learn to Harness Technology— How I wish I had learned to build a website and mastered every feature in both Quark XPress and Photoshop before my life got so crazy busy. Now is a time when you can seriously learn to use the tools you’ll need in a digital age.
- Create a Unique Social Network Persona— Spend time online. With your book and brand in mind become memorable. Gain a significant following by offering valuable content. These days nothing outside of a knock-em-dead book will help you get published faster than if you are the go-to blogger on a subject that connects to your book. By go-to blogger I mean the name everyone thinks of when your subject comes up.
- Develop Your Website— Your Online Base. This is as important to your business as a compelling storefront used to be to a retail establishment. Be innovative and always keep your reader in mind.
- Meet Editors and Agents— This is a significant part of the professional network you are building. Where do you accomplish this? At writer’s conferences. Online. I see many writers connecting in a meaningful, appropriate way to agents and editors on Facebook and other social media. Never has it been so easy to get to know professionals.
I know those are just a few of the things that you can do While U Wait. Once you are published, you’ll never again have enough time to do what needs to be done.
So, your turn. What are some other things you can do While U Wait? If you are already published and find you’re moving from one book to the next with marketing, edits, galleys, proposing new books and writing the contracted ones. . . what do you wish you had done during those waiting years?