Before e-books and the Great Indie Publishing Revolution, things were tough enough for writers trying to break into publishing. But now? There are more options and opportunities, but with them come more choices to be made and more items than ever on the list of “What to do if you want to succeed as an author”.
It’s as if author success has gone from the difficulty level of climbing Mount Everest (with all the planning, training, and expense involved in that) to launching a manned mission to Mars (we’re talking exponential difference here). Or perhaps I should say it’s as complex as fighting a real-time space battle against a formidable alien foe. Congratulations, you’re in Command School now.
Navigating a complex landscape
How do we decide where to spend our time? More than ever, we need to be strategic. Monday’s post talked about accepting where you are in the publishing journey and finding motivation to keep moving forward. Today’s shorter tactical post is all about getting the info to determine the next steps in your author marketing journey.
To use any map effectively, you first need to know where you are.
The 8 points of reference
Spend 5-10 minutes and jot down your answers to the following eight questions.
- Publication status – Check all that apply. Are you: unpublished, self-published, indie press published, traditionally published, magazine published, other?
- Number of published works – Do you have: 1 published work, 2-5 published works, 6-10 published works, 10+ published works?
- Type of work – Your published works are: mostly short stories, mostly novellas, mostly novels, other?
- Upcoming releases – Works in progress (list your WIPs, along with estimated completion dates)?
- Completed work next steps – So far as completed drafts go, what do you most need right now: a critique partner, an editor, beta readers, a publisher, a book cover, formatting help, a decision regarding where/how to publish it/them?
- Overall career next steps – So far as personal career development goes, what do you most need right now: to improve your craft (basic writing skills), to improve your storytelling (advanced plot/structure and developmental story issues), help deciding where/how you want to publish (self, indie, traditional, hybrid), help with marketing/selling your published works, connection with influencers in your selected genre(s), improvement of your online presence and author brand, time to write/finish your current WIPs?
- Greatest obstacles – What are the most common pitfalls or challenges that keep you from moving forward right now? List the top 3. Examples: lack of time, feeling overwhelmed, getting distracted, not knowing what to do next, etc.
- Greatest assets – Name 3 people or groups who you have in your corner (who inspire, help or encourage you in your writing).
By putting the answers to these questions onto a single sheet of paper, you can get a better view of where you are. This post ties into our series on Brand Essentials. The lists you’ve made if you’ve been doing those assignments will tie in closely with the results of this assessment. The next author marketing lesson will explain how to use these answers to decide your next steps given where you are right now.