Thinking Ahead by Buffy Greentree

Start thinking ahead.

If I could give one piece of advice to new writers, it is to think ahead right from the beginning. Stop your writing and take an afternoon to think about all the things you want to happen, and what you can be doing now to make them happen. Here are just a few examples that I’ve learned over the last year since bringing out my first book, things I wish I had known earlier.1. Call Yourself A Writer From The Start
The sooner you start calling yourself a writer, the sooner you will start seeing the world is full of opportunities for writers. If you introduce yourself as an office worker, your conversation will start off focused on what everyone knows about office workers, which is not much. If, however, you start by saying that you are a writer, people will immediately think of all they know about writers, which often leads to them offering you surprising avenues of help. And it is at the beginning of your career that even the smallest bit of hep is welcome. I’m sure Stephen King is no longer excited when someone says that their brother owns a bookstore and would be happy to host a book signing, but I would be over the moon. So start working your magic.2. Know Your Market
As sad as it is if you want to write for a living, then you need to write what people want to read. Simple as that. No one is going to pay you to write something that no one wants to read. And as you are writing, you will come to scenes that can go in a multitude of directions, with many of them suitable options within the story. However, knowing how you plan to market the book can save you from taking inappropriate directions. For example, the reader’s expectations for a romance with a touch of suspense are quite different to those for a suspense with a touch of romance. For example, if it’s a romance, you can’t kill off the love interest, though in a suspense you might be able to. Having worked with self-published authors, I can tell you that trying to squash a round book into a square market after it has been written is a horrifying ordeal which you should do your best to avoid.

3. Promote As Soon As You Know What You Have To Promote
With my first book I saw making the book cover as one of the last steps before I published. I now realise that this is a mistake. As soon as you know basically what your book is about, you should be thinking about book covers, because this is your promo poster for your book. It is just like how cinemas put up ‘coming soon’ posters that make you excited about a movie months early. So getting a professional book cover done and displayed on your webpage, sent out with emails, and used it to start a Goodreads pre-release giveaway all before you’ve even finished the book will save you months of promotion after you publish.

I’m coming to believe that pre-launch publisizing is worth twice post-launch, especially if people can sign up to buy pre-release. Why? Because if you can sell the same amount of books within a week as you do later over a few weeks, you will go higher in the Amazon ranking. And the sooner you start scaling on the rankings, the better. Moving up the ranking is a self-perpetuating cycle, more people find you, so they buy you, so you go further up the rankings. But there is a critical point you need to get over first, and the faster you do that the easier it will be.

4. Think Five, Ten, Twenty Years Ahead
Finally, remember that you are in for the long haul. Often I feel like a failure because I have only done an hour of writing that day when I said I would do five. Or worse, there are the days when I struggle to sit down at all, and argue with myself that twenty minutes of writing won’t make a difference. The best remedy for this is to think ahead to the end of your career. Think of where you want to be in twenty years time.

In twenty years, if I have done twenty minutes a day, what will that have gotten me, compared to if I’d just given up? Well, 20 minutes x 5 days a week for 50 weeks of the year (see, I’m letting you have two weeks holidays as well!) is a total of 5,000mins, or 83.33 hours. If you write at 1000 words per hour, that’s 83,000 a good size book. After twenty years, even if you didn’t do any more, you would have 20 books available. And with twenty books, you are starting to get somewhere.

So think ahead now and don’t stop, because you are going to be huge.

~*~

3 comments

  1. Wow, Buffy! This is good stuff. I was hesitant for the longest time to call myself a writer, despite having articles published and the fact that I not only study writing, but I write every day. Took me forever to feel worthy of the title, mainly because my day job brings in more money than my writing… Silly, eh? Thank you for the reminder!🙂

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