On my first day of writing, I sat down at my desk at EXACTLY 8:30 (I was super intense about that), all set up with my pens and notepad and Things to Do. It’s a cute image, but it’s not particularly helpful for anyone else sitting at their desk with their new pens, facing their first new day. So, let’s move a little beyond that. You’ve written your manuscript, it’s day 140, or 620, or whatever it is, but for your new business, its mostly day 1.
On the page Moving Forward I outlined the major decisions I’ve made since I started on Day 1. I think that’s a fairly good place to start for my first post on exactly that topic. So, to reiterate:
I am looking forward to my first year writing anniversary on 7/17/14! Here’s what I have done so far:
- Wrote, edited, and copy-edited a manuscript that fits the word-count for its genre
- Worked on multiple failed second manuscript projects
- Created a polished query letter and synopsis
- Decided not to create a pseudonym
- Signed up for a national conference in my manuscript’s genre
- Made a list of potential agents and publishers out of that conference attendance list
- Sent my query letter, synopsis, and manuscript to agents, according to their submission criteria.
The next few posts will cover each of these topics in turn to catch up on my life over the last year as a terrified new writer with no publication history.
Let’s start with my first mistake.
I tried to write too much. That’s such an odd thing to say, but I think it’s fair. I wanted to have multiple books and a glorious career, when really, a business needs a product to start with. I finished a romance story I’d written in my last year of college but it was far too short to make a Popular Romance genre’s wordcount, so I shoved it in a drawer and moved on to Bigger and Greater things. Whoops. That was an almost finished product! All the work had already been put in, and without trying to sell it at all I just hid it away, accepted its mistakes as writ in stone and didn’t even attempt to gain anything from the hours it’d cost.
Here’s where professional networking saved my butt. I’ll talk about professional networking later, but the long story short is that I made an amazing friend named Amy;, a businesswoman who started her own 6 figure + business with her husband before the age of thirty. I mentioned the ‘failed product’ to her one night, after we’d finished watching Pride and Prejudice. She snorted at me and told me straight out ‘Publish it” without any reservations, and she taught me the business formula I’d overlooked. Aka time = money. I’d put time in and wasn’t even trying to get it out there to build my brand. ‘Even if it flops, it’ll help build your business platform’ she said. Now, I had no idea what a ‘business platform’ even really meant, but the kick in the ass landed anyway. I pulled the story out of its folder, pushed aside my Bigger and Greater things, and started hacking, slashing, editing, and reworking.
So, that’s my first product. A Popular Romance that fits its wordcount and has taught me more about the editing side of writing than I could possibly put down in words. So, that was mistake number one: I decided that because it wasn’t perfect yet, I’d shove it in a folder and call it a lost cause. Meanwhile, I wasted a lot of time on Bigger and Greater things that were more fun because I wasn’t bored of them yet. I had a much better product sitting half-finished in my drawer.
So, that’s the story of the majority of this year, ending when I finished the brutal editing project and started skipping and screaming around my kitchen (at the time a studio apartment in Hong Kong so I only had about three strides to skip), because I’d actually created a product and needed to move on to Marketing & Sales.