Do you have a plan?
To write, you need a plan. Simply, you must plan what you are going to write and work your plan. Your plan needs to include, at a minimum, the following topics:
- Core subject (click link)
- Simple outline (click link)
- Book or Article (click link)
- Timeline ideas (click link)
- Need for Subject (click link)
- Projected Audience
- Book Proposal (click link)
- Promotion plan
- Budget (click link)
- Full Time or Part-Time Project
We will look at each item in a summary paragraph. In each paragraph, you will be able to click on a link to take you to a full page of discussion on that topic. Somewhere and at sometime in your writing, you will need to decide what you are going to do in and with each topic area. Before you begin writing, you should read each paragraph and each discussion page to be familiar with the topic. Also, keep in mind that book reviews are means of self-promotion and extension of your writing abilities.
These are but a few of the subjects you will need to address as your write. Serious writing is a marathon. Milestones are required. Each milestone must be mastered if you are to suceed as a writer. For the beginner writer, check these six tips for beginners.
When you decide to write, you must identify your core subject. Once you do that, you need to research that subject to see other things that have been written about it. One big reason publishers reject a topic is that it’s already been done. You need to figure out at new and unique angle for your subject. Or, there is no recognizable audience for that subject. Do research in bookstores and major libraries for books or articles on your subject. If it is a common subject, look for a fresh and unused approach. Make sure that your subject is one that readers will want to know about.
When you know your topic or core subject, you will need to do a simple outline. Is it going to be based upon time, events or interest points? Use this to plan your topic research. Your simple outline will probably go through many revisions. If you do not know how your topic is organized, then how will your publisher or the reader know what you are giving them? Do research on different ways to present topics. Ask yourself, what makes this subject a good read? Remember, your reader needs to have something he learns and can use about that subject. Give him a takeaway thought to refresh his memory.
Book or Article
One of the quickest ways to get your book rejected by a publisher is to present your topic and he thinks it is just an article, not a book. Do research. If you cannot see yourself writing 50,000 words or more on your subject, then it may only be an article. Most books will have at least 40 or 50 pages and many will have more than 100 pages. Manuscripts are normally submitted to publishers in a double spaced format. Normally a 200 page, double spaced manuscript will become less than 100 pages in final published form. Word count and number of pages are very important items for a writer. The more you learn about these, the better you will become as a writer.
For an article or a book, you will need to set a timeline. Estimate how many pages you will write per day or how many words or paragraphs you would like to finish when you write. Why set a goal? There will be times when you hit a dry period or a snag in your writing. Be prepared. Have some other thing with your writing that you will need to do, but do something. Write something every day. Good writing is as much good habit as are many other things we do. Set a goal to write at least a paragraph a day for at least a month. It takes 14 to 21 days for us to establish a habit. If you do it for many days in a row then the more of a habit it becomes. Set writing goals and stick with them. An Idea! Writing calender. Write for 26 days.
Need for Subject
This is critical. Is there a need for your subject? You may see a need, but does the reader know there is a need? If the reader does not know the need, then your job is to figure out how to educate them to the need. This is a task that requires a lot of thought, research and feedback from friends and other writers. Without ample time and preparation here, your writing may fall short. There is no such thing as too much research if it is focused upon your subject and presentation. It is in doing the research that you will find the “why” of why it needs to be done.
Who are you writing to? Who will benefit from your subject? How will this topic fulfill a need that they have? For any non-fiction subject, these three questions must be answered. In finding your audience, many more questions will arise. But it is in answering these three questions (the 2 “who” and the need) that we begin to form the “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of the audience. You must know the “who” of your audience and their “need” before you can begin to answer these four other questions. As the author you must be able to answer as many questions about your topic as you can. You will become the authority on your subject area.
As a publishing friend of mine has said, “Editors read book proposals, not manuscripts.” It is in the mindset of experienced publishers and their editors that manuscripts do not answer vital questions to the success or failure of a book. The manuscript is how the topic or subject is developed, not the elements that will be the foundation for whether the work will succeed or fail. It is in the elements of a book proposal that the book maker will see its worth. He must answer at least these five questions: Is it true and does this person know what he/she is talking about? How many people care about this subject and why? Is it well written and will the reader be engaged by the story flow? The editor must know if enough people will put out money to read this? And then, will the book maker be able to afford to produce it? These questions can only be answered in a well written book proposal.
The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Traditional publishing was the ruler at the turn of the century. But over the last decade many new advances in technology and the printing industry has made publishing available to those who know how to use the new technology. A traditional publisher must have a promotion plan to know what he will do and what the author will do. The promo plan will be the guide for what needs to be done to sell books. Who will handle the advertising and what kind will it be? How much personal selling will the author do? Who will pay for what to get the book published? A good promotional plan will cover all of this and more.
This topic will encompass more than just money. How much money you put into what you write and into getting it published will vary depending upon your writing goal. Time is also a budget factor. How much time will you put into different facets of your writing activities? We will talk about several factors and how much time and money you will devote to each.
Full or Part-time Project
Is writing a part-time or full time occupation for you? This is an important question for every writer to address. Full time writing requires a different attitude and approach than writing on a part-time basis. Each one will require a plan and several milestones to be achieved. Every writer must address these issues.
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