Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, June 15, 2009

Planning ahead

When I was freelancing, I didn't live by the clock. I lived by my calendar. I had deadlines penciled in and planned my queries according to many editorial calendars.

These days, with my focus more on books than articles, I am also planning ahead. This time, however, the planning that I do with my books is just a little different (and involves less querying).

With a book under deadline, I plan how much of the book I will work on each day as well as each week. I sort of put together a "timeline" of what I will do with this book at certain intervals (for example, work on this chapter one day, that chapter another day), and decide when certain parts of the book should be done. I always allow wiggle room in case of emergencies (you just know that THOSE are bound to come up!) and always try to get done as early as possible. If I finish before the deadline, I have time to (relax!) read over the material and double-check for anything I need to verify or supplement.

When it comes to a book that is scheduled for release, planning ahead is definitely crucial to the book's success. There are news releases to go out, ARCs to get to reviewers, readings to plan, speaking engagements to set up and an audience to promote the book to. (This can be done through an E-zine, writing freebie articles which focus on the book's subject or touch on the book's theme, becoming known on certain web sites and through social networks, etc.) It's also helpful to set up a web site to help promote the book, put together flyers and other assorted promotional accessories, and get the word out to friends and family about the book's upcoming release. The more people who order it through an online retailer or bookstore, the greater your book's selling numbers on Launch Day.

With a book that is planned for publication, timing is everything. Deciding on the right time for a book to be released can determine how well it'll sell. For example, a collection of Christmas stories won't be a hot item if it's published in June. More like September or October. (Think of an editor's "lead time" and it'll help zero in on what time of the year would be best for books with a seasonal theme.)

All the same, there are other ways planning ahead can be helpful when it comes to writing books. The month of June is halfway over. Soon half of the year will have passed. It's time to reflect on progress made so far this year.

What have we managed to write?

What projects did we bring into this year that we REALLY want to finish, this year, so that we can start the next year anew and with new projects to write? How can we accomplish this goal?

How can we plan out for the remaining half of the year so that we can complete the old things and make room for new things?

Now is just as good a time as any to think on these thoughts and decide what next step we want to take with our writing career. What have we done so far this year? What do we still want to do, this year?

As for me, these are my goals for the rest of the year:

*Finish Real Ghost Towns (title to be changed) by deadline and get it to publisher.

*Finish Trimming the Fat. Decide on a new title and get the book into final draft shape.

*Find new publisher for haunted houses book. (My co-author is doing this, as well.)

*Finish editing/rewriting MG book (Native American story).

*Type up second book in MG series. Get it to beta readers and try to get manuscript into 2nd draft stage by end of year.

*Finish writing fantasy MG book.

I have an idea of what books I will be working on next year (I bet you can guess that one of those books will be the third in the series! Right now, I've only been dabbling with it) but right now, these are the projects on my plate for the rest of the year.

Putting everything down onto paper or on a file really helps me to organize how I plan them all out and decide where to go with them. Not everything can get done at the same time, of course, and timing when I plan to finish the books can help me plan ahead on what to do with it when.

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  • At 10:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    if only i could be organized like you!

  • At 5:54 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Don't worry, Nancy. You'll get there. It takes a VERY LONG time to get a handle on organizing it all. And lots of Post-It Notes. :)


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