Last Sunday, I said I would start talking about "career building before the first sale" this Sunday-- some positive steps a writer can take when starting down the road toward publication. Here are a few ideas:
1. Practice goal setting--weekly, monthly, yearly, even five year plans. Reaching a destination is a whole lot easier with a map.
2. Record every positive step you take towards your goals. Review them often. Without this, it may seem as if you are at a stand-still as the months go by. I filled pages of my Franklin planner with details of calls I made, contacts, critique sessions, when I ordered a writing book or joined a chapter, or wrote a newsletter article. Even when a first sale still seemed far away, I could see proof of the positive steps I was taking, and the satisfaction of checking off more items on my list was added encouragement.
3. Have a COMPLETE ms before you talk to editors and agents...because that's what they'll probably ask for. If it takes a year for you to get that full ms finished and sent after such a request, that editor might be at a different house by then...and an agent has just had proof that you aren't going to be productive!
4. Keep up-to-date files on agents, editors, publishers, houses, and reviewers. Take notes at conferences. Network with other writers at conferences. Workshops can be of great benefit, but sometimes the hallway networking can be just as helpful!
5. It goes without saying that you've extensively read your target publishing house and line. That you have read so many of their books that you have that publisher's type of storyline embedded in your heart. Publishers are definitely not "one size fits all", and doing your homework can save you a lot of time in the long run!
Next time, I'd like to continue talking about upping your chances for success...and would love to hear some good hints from people reading this blog, too. Hope to see you again!