Establish Your Game Plan: Tips for a Writing Career

by | March 31, 2020 |

Although I am no longer giving a talk to the creative writers at Florida International University on April 2, I still have Five Tips for a Lifelong Writing Career. I am posting them in installments on my blog. My fifth and last tip is: Establish your game plan.

I will be giving a remote version of my talk through FIU’s Center for Humanities in an Urban Environment, TBA.

Establish Your Game Plan: Brave New World

A lot has changed in the publishing industry in recent decades.

Here’s what didn’t exist when I began: iPads, Nooks, Amazon, Google Books, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, oh yes, the Internet.

The publishing possibilities today are endless and often bewildering in their endlessness.

After publishing many books with major mass-market publishers, I made the choice to go indie. It’s an easier choice to make if you’re already established. Many established authors have made a similar choice. We took our cue from the music industry, where the artists are their own producers. And many established authors do both: work with publishers and have an indie side.

I’ve even known of unestablished authors who become established exclusively through the indie route. And then they might go with a publisher. Or not.

When the digital world blew open the publishing industry twenty-five years ago, there was no learning curve. The learning line went straight up. You are likely well versed in the digital world. But, still, in order to put your plan in place, you do need to study up. Consult with others authors who have faced choices similar to those you are facing.

Establish Your Game Plan: The More Things Change ….

Here is what hasn’t changed.

No matter where you are on the publishing spectrum you will be working with the same set of people: editors, copy-editors, graphic designers, marketers, publicists, your fellow writers and your readers.

That’s why I mentioned at the very beginning (see: Tip #1, below) that an author’s success in the marketplace is a team effort. And the changes in the publishing industry are why I can suggest to you now – even if you’re as yet unpublished – to start thinking for the long haul in terms of building your team.

My current editor worked for a good twenty years at all the major publishers in New York City. Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have found a top-quality New York editor unless one of my books had been acquired by one of the major publishers. Fifteen years ago, I was still working with major publishers. But now I can work with a top editor because, like many others in the industry, she decided to go free-lance (for a specific family reason) because it is now possible for her to do so.

She and I have had this conversation. We are still working with the same people, but the relationships among us all has now shifted.

Of course, marketers and publicists are now largely digitized. I pay people to do mine. So, on my team is a web development agency. They do all my social media and do it better than I could anyway. They’re a little older than you undergraduates in the audience, but not much. Super nerdy and they still love books. And they know about algorithms. They produce tangible results.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a thing I can tell you on the score of making online connections, becoming an influencer, having one of your videos go viral, or anything else of that nature. Greg, who is on my digital marketing team could, but I can’t.

All I can tell you is to sit yourself in the saddle and write a good book.

For all my writing tips, see:

#1: Write Good Books

#2: Show Up For Work Every Day

#3: Know Your Market

#4: Understand Your Needs

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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