Writing for publication is unlike any other job you've ever had. There's no formal training, no paid manager to make sure you're making your objectives. How can you know if you're doing everything you should on the road to publication? Too often I hear stories of people who wrote for years or spent a small fortune before finally discovering what they needed to do to achieve their goals.
With that in mind, I got together with my local RWA chapter president, Janis McCurry, and we came up with the following checklist to help new writers navigate the road to publication. I think even published writers may find some things have slipped to the wayside under the pressure to meet deadlines.
At the top of the list is a place to write your personal goal because that goal should influence every writing decision you make. How do you measure success? Is it in number of books written or in dollars? Is your ultimate goal to quit your day job? This goal-making process is a bit controversial. Some authors believe in only making goals for things you can control (e.g. number of pages written) and others believe you must dream big to succeed.
Whatever method you choose for measuring success, I hope this list will spark some ideas on how to move ahead. While the items on this list may help you get published, please remember that the writing must always come first. You can't sell if you don't have a polished, completed manuscript.
I will ___________________________________________________by ___________________________________________________.
Steps on the Road to Publication:
_____Join a professional writers’ organization (like RWA)
_____Learn the craft (workshops/books/classes)
_____Find a critique group or partner
_____WRITE A COMPLETE NOVEL by writing___pages/day
_____If you are a RWA member, apply for PRO status
____ Enter contests (Optional)
_____Study the market
_____Learn to write a query letter and synopsis
_____Research agents and editors and create personal list
_____Attend national and/or regional conferences
_____Pitch to editors and agents in person
_____Sign with agent
_____Develop a brand
_____Learn about contracts, taxes, and other legal issues
_____Network online and in person
_____Develop a personal website and/or join a group blog
I would love to hear your comments on this list. Did I leave anything out? What have you found most helpful in your quest to be published?