Workshop: Serious Goals for Writers

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Workshop:

Serious Goals for Writers

By

Lazette Gifford

Joyously Prolific Blog

Copyright © 2014, Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved

 

Let's get serious

We all have something that is going to step in front of our dreams and goals and say it's more important. Family is important -- but so are you. Sometimes it is also important to carve out some time to pursue your dreams. You don't have to throw yourself into the work to the exclusion of everything else, but if you have an idea of what you need to do, it can make it easier to find the time. Here are some ideas for what you might want to do this year. Adapt them to suit your needs.

Indie or Traditional

This workshop is going to cover items that both indie and traditionally published authors can use to help direct them through the year. For instance, most traditionally published authors are required now to have a social media presence. In fact, pretty much everything (as far as work is concerned) will be the same except for the long wait the traditionally published author has before the book is available.

The goal of this workshop is to address everything from writing to low-level marketing that all writers can do without spending any money. This is the social media side of marketing, and while spending money wisely can help, many writers simply are not in a position to do so. You can still get your name out there and a few people notice your work. Some marketing is better than none at all.

Everything here takes time, though, and that is where a schedule comes in handy.

This is not meant to be an 'easy' set of things to do. This is for people who are serious about writing and promoting their published work. The schedule you create should push you to do more than you have in the past, so you may have to adjust numbers to suit your needs. This will take more time, and you will likely have trouble at first until you get the feel for what you're doing. Don't despair and give up. Adjust what you need to do to make the schedule work for you, even if it means cutting all the numbers in half. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.

Writing and Editing

This workshop is divided into three sections. The first is discussing writing and editing.

I am not going to tell you how to do either or how much you have to do, or even that you need to write every day (though that can be fun). What I will point out is that if you write 500 words five days a week, at the end of the year you will have a 130k novel.

If you edit five pages a day for five days a week, you will have edited 1300 pages by the end of the year.

If you write a mere 300 words a day five days a week, you will still have a novel of 78k, which is quite respectable. Editing 3 pages a day will get you 780 pages which is a novel or two.

For traditional authors who have a novel contract, working out how much you need to write in however long you have is an important part of the process. Do you need a 100k book in three months? The NaNo magic number -- 1667 words -- five days a week will get you there. Barely. But remember that you will also need to edit, and you might need time for beta readers, and -- yeah, the sooner you start on the new novel, the more time you will have before you are late for your contract deadline.

In other words, look at the numbers. Keep track of the numbers if that helps you. It is most likely that you will not do both on the same days unless you have the time. Keep your goals small until you get a feel for how well you work and then you can up them if you feel comfortable. Writing more is easier than editing more, however.

Before you consider anything else, you must apply yourself to writing. Set your goals there. If you don't have anything that will be published this year, hold off on the rest of this until next year.

Publishing and Marketing

Here is the point where traditional and indie writer's part company for a while. Once the traditional author has the manuscript ready (written, edited, beta reader, etc), then the person is going to start submitting it to agents and publishers, of send it off to the agent or publisher where the author already has a contract. No matter what, there is going to be a delay between writing the material and publishing.

Once indie authors are done with the writing and editing phase, their delay may be in finding a suitable cover. Once that part of the work is done, they will head into formatting. This can be time-consuming as well, depending on where and how they intend to publish.

Indie publishing can include both ebook and print, and might mean uploading books and cover art to several different locations. While some people will go only with Amazon, you should at least check out places like Smashwords, which offers a lot of extras that might well make it worth not going exclusively with the Kindle choice.

Once the book (traditional or indie) is close to publication, it's time to start looking at some easy marketing. You don't want to start too early and wear out your potential readers before the book is available, but you can start introducing yourself into the community.

The easiest way to do this bit of marketing is to have three things: an online journal or blog (Blogger, Wordpress, whatever), a Facebook account and a Twitter account. None of these three things are going to make you famous, and you will likely spread out into much more in marketing. A regularly scheduled newsletter is another good plan. (Some newsletter program/publishers I've heard of are Mailman and Constant Contact, Mailchimp, dadamail, and Aweber.)

Start with your blog/journal. Here you can do cover reveals, snippets of story and contests when the book comes out. You can build up a readership before publication (good plan!) by providing content that others want to read, and making certain you do so on a regular basis. Some people review books. Some people write about how to write well (be careful there!) and some (like me) provide things like Friday Flash Fiction. Keep your blog/journal as active as you can. Avoid politics and religion for the most part because you don't want to alienate readers, and those things can create trouble. If you don't mind -- or if you happen to write about those types of things in your books -- then go ahead, but keep in mind that this is marketing, not a debate.

Once you have things going on in your blog/journal, it's time to start getting people to look at it. That's where Facebook and Twitter come in, as well as good places to mention that you have new work out.

But there is a catch.

If all you do is post 'buy my book' notes on Facebook and Twitter, people are going to ignore you. In order to make the most out of such sites, you need to be . . . well, social.

Twitter has a surprisingly large writer community with several scheduled discussions each week. The large #amwriting group is a great way to just scan what others are doing, offer an answer or ask a question now and then. Watch the other hashtags that people use in that group and expand out to see what other groups are saying. Watch for times of special chats and make an appearance.

The same is true of Facebook. There are writing groups there. This isn't simply a place to connect with family. You can create your own Author Page on Facebook. Be careful of creating too many things you will have to keep up and interesting. Far better to have the single blog/journal and post there, then link back from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Whenever you post anything of interest.

Pinterest? Tumblr? Google+? Check them out. You might find them more interesting then Facebook or Twitter, but those two are huge and offer you the best chance of connecting with people who might be interested in reading your work. Remember, even though you are going to be sociable and not always talk about your boook, that is still your prime reason for being here.

Schedule

So now, here we are with a number of things to do, all of which are going to take time and all of which should be done often. It's easy to 'forget' that you want to do things. Part of this is because you are not treating writing as your business. You wouldn't simply forget to do the tidying up or finishing off the last assignment from your boss, after all. If you plan on making writing your career (even part time), you need to take the work seriously.

In the schedule below I've worked up goals for months, weeks, and days with an overall yearly total at the top for writing and publishing. There is a lot about editing and marketing in here, too, of course. Once you get used to doing the work, it will go faster. This listing assumes you have been writing for a while and have other material to edit. The areas that are designated as 'write' means working on your novel or short stories, not on blog posts, Facebook, emails, etc. Remember, this is your goal for your writing career, so take the work seriously.

Yearly

Write 65,000 words (250 a day, Monday through Friday)

Publish two short stories and two novels

Monthly

January Edit short, edit novel, prepare newsletter

February Format short, edit novel

March Publish short, edit novel, market short, send newsletter

April Edit novel, prepare newsletter

May Format novel, market novel

June Publish novel, market novel, send newsletter

July Edit short, edit novel, prepare newsletter

August Format short, edit novel

September Publish short, edit novel, market short, send newsletter

October Edit novel, prepare newsletter

November Format, market novel

December Publish novel, market novel, send newsletter

Weekly (Monday through Friday)

Edit 20 pages a week (This is 4 pages a day)

Daily

Monday Write 250 words, post on Facebook

Tuesday Write 250 words, post on Twitter

Wednesday Write 250 words, post on journal/blog

Thursday Write 250 words, post on twitter

Friday Write 250 words, post flash fiction story, mention on Twitter and Facebook (And list on Friday Flash Page)

Your goal for this workshop is to start making a schedule for all the things you need to help with your career and sticking to it. Make the schedule just difficult enough that it pushes you to work a little harder than usual, but not so difficult that it becomes depressing when you don't make goals.

Get serious about your future as a writer, and start today.