Writing and publishing a book is a multi-step process…like, HUNDREDS of steps. The more I learn about what I need to do in order to publish The Girl From Oto, the longer my to-do list grows and the more overwhelmed I feel. This week I’m getting organized while I wait for my book to return from the editor. I know once it comes back I’ll be deep into revision mode and things will change, but for now:
1. Make a master list (I created an Excel spreadsheet) of every single thing you need to do to take your book from concept to publication. This includes writing/editing/proofreading as well as everything you need to do for publishing (from hiring a cover designer to formatting and uploading e-versions to Amazon etc.) and marketing (including building an author website, establishing a social media presence, researching reviewers etc.). I modeled my list after the great one in Catherine Ryan Howard’s “Self Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.” Don’t forget to include business, tax and legal issues in your checklist. I am finding great advice about all of that stuff in Helen Sedwick’s “Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook.” Tackle a couple of the items on that list every day or week depending on how fast you can work given everything else going on in your busy life.
2. Once your social media/blogging presence is up and running, allot a certain amount of time per day or week to attend to it. Tweet, blog, visit other blogs, post images on your Pinterest board, contribute to discussions on Goodreads or Facebook author groups. Only please—don’t promote yourself. After spending several months building a social media presence I am continually amazed and irritated by the number of writers whose entire online persona consists of “NOTICE ME! READ MY BOOK! BETTER YET, BUY IT!” The only links I click on share interesting and/or funny insights or observations, or are links to websites that are helpful, inspiring, and motivating to me. I NEVER click on the links that are just self-promotional blather for people I know nothing about. I once saw a rule online: for every 20 non-self-promoting posts, post one that promotes your work. I think the most brilliant posts inform and entertain while building a positive impression in your mind of the author. Then, when you see that person is launching a book, you remember your positive impression, which can set off a chain reaction of “Hey, I liked her twitter posts, I liked her blog, she had great advice, she was funny—I bet I’ll like her book too.” Bingo!
3. WRITE. Set aside daily writing time. All of the marketing and publishing stuff can threaten to engulf you. Be fierce about guarding your writing time, because without great content, what will you publish? For some people, a time limit (30 minutes—go!) or word count works well. For others, a daily writing prompt is helpful. Write at the time of day when you are most creative, if you can. If not, just do it. And who cares if what you write is terrible. It’s only a shitty first draft, as Anne Lamott says—just get it out there. That’s the beauty of revising. Get that first draft done, and you can revise until the cows come home.