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Excerpt from 'Write, Create & Promote a Best Seller'


"By failing to plan, you are planning to fail" - Ben Franklin


True success - in every field - begins with a plan. I do not mean the plan to actually
WRITE your book. That step forms only a portion of the total process required in creating publishing success. I mean the plan to get your book to the stage where you originally imagined you wanted it to reach.

Goals and plans are important for almost every aspect of your life. Your writing career should be no different.

The problem with goals is that many of the best plans fall by the wayside. People get distracted, better plans are made, easier plans are found or circumstances change.

The simple truth is, if you want to succeed, you should devise a plan that suits you and stick to it. You can always revise a plan as you go, or add to it or amend it, but as long as you stick to your basic plan, you will reach your goal.

Your plan should be a blueprint of your goals and desires and should contain several realistic steps required to help you to achieve the end result.

So, the first step in creating your goals should be:
know your end result.

The 'end result' is not the point where you stop selling books, or quit writing books. It is simply being able to pinpoint where the desired outcome of your efforts should be.
Imagine ordering a plane ticket without an end destination in mind. The booking officer will need to know where you want to go before the necessary steps can be taken to get you there.

By recognizing the desired outcome of your goal, you can begin to put in place the necessary steps that will help to create the desired effect.


How to Find Your End Result

No two goals are alike.

Some writers are happy to give their books away to friends and family or as promotional tools to increase name recognition. Others want to see plenty of sales generated to increase their chances of a bigger audience with the next book. Still others yearn for the six-figure advances that some popular authors can command.

No matter what your desired end result for your book is, the most important thing to realize is that you do have a destination in mind.

Although it will be the first goal you create, this destination will form the final step in your own blueprint to publishing success.


Know Your Starting Point

Obviously, in order to know where you're going, you'll need to know what your starting point is.

Be honest with yourself during this step. Only include actual publication credits you've had to date. Include any writing projects you currently have under way. Add any intended projects you hope to work on when time becomes available. It doesn't matter if you have never had anything published before - even the biggest writers began somewhere.

If you currently have a "day-job", include this factor into your starting point. Working long hours at another job can take away precious time for writing and promoting your work, but remaining at work can mean that you will continue to bring in a steady income until your books reach a point of being able to provide an alternate income.

The point is to acknowledge your current position and then take steps to alter your position so that it more accurately reflects on where you want to end up.


Logical Steps

Getting from where you are now to where you wish to end involves creating a sequence of logical steps designed to get you there. Think carefully about the steps you wish to include. Everything you devise here should be created with the goal of reaching your end result in mind. If the action does not move your goal further toward completion, then ask yourself if it is really necessary.

Be fair with yourself. Include only baby steps that you know can be realistically met. Be a little wary of setting huge steps - with baby steps, you still have the opportunity to monitor your progress along the way. If your path seems a little skewed, or the results are not turning out the way you planned, you can still amend your goals and continue.

Only you can decide what steps to put into achieving your own end result.


Implement Your Plan

Once you have set out your starting point and your finishing point, you will realize that there is an awfully large gap in the middle of the two. This step of your plan is where you put together the necessary ways to get you from your starting point to your end result.

The implementation stage should contain several steps, each moving your career and your book's sales further ahead.

These steps could include:

Time management

Research

Creative Writing

Editing and Revising

Publication

Marketing

Sales

Promotions

Deadlines


The single greatest step in this phase is to write your book. Publication, marketing, sales, promotions, book signings - these are all steps that should follow the actual writing process, as none of these things can happen until that book is written.

Set yourself an estimated deadline to achieve each step of your plan. This may put added pressure on you, but it may also offer you the opportunity to complete tasks in a much quicker time span.

Arrange your plan to reflect the order in which you believe will be the most efficient way to attain your own end result. Include any outside factors that you believe can contribute to your books' success.


Monitor Your Plan

No plan goes exactly according to schedule. Plans can be altered or modified, circumstances can change, priorities can shift. Anything can happen to throw you from your path to success.

This is where monitoring of your plan becomes important.

By acknowledging each situation as it arises, you can amend your plan suitably so that you can work around the obstacle and still reach your end result.

It does not mean that you have failed in any way if you do not reach your goal in the original time-span allotted. It simply means that it is time to adjust those goals accordingly and keep working toward them.


Revisit Your Goals

As you reach each goal you've set for yourself, it is important to revisit your original goals and begin to outline new ones.

By setting a small, realistic goal and then reaching that end result, you will learn that immediately setting another goal that takes your career another step further will be easily manageable.

However, do not be tempted to set your goals at impossible heights. Do not give in to the temptation to set your end result as "Write more books than Stephen King". Instead, focus on the first goal you wish to achieve - in most cases, complete just one book and get that published.

Then, when you have achieved that goal, go ahead and revisit your plans to include several more titles.

Set yourself tasks that you can handle realistically.


Applying Your Goals

These same rules for setting goals can be applied to almost any situation in which you might find yourself . Let's assume that your first Goal is to actually sit down and write your book. These Goal outlines can still be effective in helping you to achieve your desired end result.

Find Your End Result: Obviously, the end result here is a completed manuscript. Not-so-obviously, the end result you might be looking for is a plot that is neatly concluded into a satisfying finish.

"
... and they lived happily ever after"

Know Your Starting Point: Page one is where the action starts. However, not every book begins with action. Where does your story start? Do you know where the logical beginning should be? Have you created a great opening 'hook' to lure your reader further into the pages?

"
Once upon a time, Jane was arrested for the murder of her husband..."

Logical Steps: A lot can happen between the beginning and the end. Create a series of brief outlines to help keep you focused on the path you want your plot to take. Knowing ahead of time where each section is supposed to end can be a handy way of monitoring whether your progress is on track or not.

"
... The arresting Sergeant saw things in the clues that led him to believe that Jane was innocent, and together they set out to find the real killer."

"...in the meantime, they fall madly in love..."

Implement Your Plan: This is where you apply your bottom to the seat, take a pen in hand and fill in the blank sections between your starting point and your end result, using your logical steps as a guide.

No matter what your end result is, and no matter what your ultimate goals are, there will always be a section that involves you setting out to fill in the blank sections from starting point and end result.

Monitor Your Plan: There are times when better options present themselves. There are also times when life intrudes on even the best-made plans, and you are forced to amend them. If your plan seems to be straying from its path, ask yourself if the change is for the better, or for the worse. Will you still be able to reach the original end result? Is it time to alter the end result to something more beneficial?

"
... sneaky Jane took advantage of the Sergeant's love to cover up her secret guilt and made sure that the clues all pointed to him as being the murderer. Now they no longer live happily ever after. Jane does, but the Sergeant lives miserably behind bars."

Revisit Your Goals: What happens once your goals are met? Do you stop, sit back and rest on your laurels? No way! This is where you revisit those goals. Create a Book Two. Write a goal-outline to get Book One published. Write goals for the marketing and promotion of your first novel. Set higher limits for yourself to reach.

No matter what your situation is, setting realistic goals will help to keep your career on track, and make advancing a reality instead of a dream.


Copyright Lee Masterson. All rights reserved.

 

 
 
 

         Last updated: February 28, 2007