I’m one of those people who likes to do the things they don’t like first…except when it comes to cleaning bathrooms. I put that off as long as possible. It struck me, though, as I was eating some Runts, that you can’t really do that with writing. As I was picking out all the bananas and oranges to eat first because I like them the least but feel bad just throwing them away, I had the thought that most of my least favorite parts of writing and publishing can’t really be done first just to get them out of the way.
My two least favorite parts of writing are editing and marketing. Editing, I just don’t like because it’s time consuming and annoying and I can never remember how to use a comma properly in every situation. Marketing is just plain tough and time consuming and will totally eat up your whole day if you let it.
In a perfect world, I could just do both of those first, get them out of the way, and then move on to the fun parts. Writing. I can do it with food and chores, so why not writing? Admittedly, it’s tough to edit something you haven’t written, and even though you can start to market a book before it’s published, you still have to have something concrete to market and know how to do it right.
So, how important is having a plan and sticking to it when writing?
Here are a few thoughts to consider:
The hardcore marketing will usually start once a publication date is finalized, but more general marketing needs to start 6-9 months pre-publication. How do you do that when you’re only on chapter 3?
Ask for input on social media.
- What do you think of these names for a (fill in the blank) type of character?
- Anyone live in ___________? What’s a great first date restaurant, unique location, bad area of town, etc.?
- Do you believe in ghosts/werewolves/demons?
Get them invested in the idea of your book before you ever even finish it. Make them a part of the writing process so they feel connected to it before they even read a single page. Just remember to include the title or working title in your posts.
Give readers sneak peeks.
Post a short excerpt. Tell readers what your character said or did that made you cry/laugh/stare at your computer screen in shock. Make some promo teasers like the one below with interesting quotes or taglines that readers can share.
The more you get readers involved in the pre-publication process, the more excited they’ll be to finally get their hands on a copy once it’s released.
Tours, Guest Posts, etc.
On a more technical note, you also need to be setting up tours, guest posts, events, etc. well before the day your book is going to come out. Most good tour companies are booked at least two months out. Plan ahead.
Sadly, there’s really no way to knock out the editing before you actually do the writing. So, how do you stay on schedule with your writing? Everyone is different, but here are a few ideas that have worked for me and author friends I know.
- Deadlines: whether this is a deadline for finishing the book, a chapter, or section, sit down and give yourself a reasonable time period to accomplish a set amount of work. Mark it on your calendar.
- Writing Groups: Make yourself accountable to someone else. Readers can be great at keeping you on track when they’re waiting for a new book, but a writing group that meets regularly and requires you to have something for the other members to critique can help you stay on track.
- Daily/Weekly Goals: whether this is a word count goal, set amount of time, plan a time that you will use just for writing. Your creativity often needs to be trained to come out and play at certain times.
- Bribery: Seriously, this works. Give yourself a reason to meet your goal. Chocolate? Shoes? A night out? Whatever motivates you, use it.