My writing journey started on a narrow, country lane. I meandered beside the gentle curves of my story line and enjoyed the scenery of my imagination. What would my heroine do next? How would she handle the villain? Once I reached the publisher's village, my book would be hot off the press in no time!
But as I entered the town, traffic became congested on the busy road. A lot of other writers were headed in the same direction. Disconcerting. However, my book was good. Its merits should sell itself.
Wrong. The traffic cop in town directed me to the nearest conference. I was to park there and network with possible agents and editors, and those people expected to see more than my book. They wanted to see my plan for publication. My plan? I thought they had the plans. I had the book.
They sent me, via a massive, eight-lane highway, to several shops where more detailed directions followed. Get your book edited. Join social media. Build an email list. Blogging, vlogging, and newsletters will get you closer to the golden doors of the publisher. Make a marketing plan.
Every time I progressed from one of my stops to the next, I had to take the entrance ramp back on that highway where other writers whizzed past me at dizzying speeds. Lord, Take me back to that country road where I belong. (John Denver pun intended!)
As much as I may have wanted to quit, God put a passion in me to write, and I believe He wants me to share with more than an audience of One. I’m learning to maneuver the four lanes on my side of the highway. Ginny Yttrup made this analogy clear to me, and I’m sharing it with you.
Lane 1: Learn
Attend conferences. You learn from those further along on the publication road, and you begin to network with all kinds of people in the writing industry.
Take courses. Many are free and allow you to dip your toes in the shallows of a particular discipline. Others cost a bundle, and more should be expected from your teacher.
Join critique groups. Does this sound familiar? Fellow writers can help you see strengths and weaknesses in your own writing, and you can do the same for them.
Read. Read similar books to your preferred genre. Read outside your genre. Analyze other authors’ techniques. Right now, I’m in love with every Charles Martin novel that I’ve read. I’m trying to figure out what he does that is so magical for me, the reader.
Lane 2: Write
Just do it. Sit your tush down in front of that computer or with pen and paper in hand.
Settle yourself with a prayer.
Face your fear. Writer’s block? God will inspire you with ideas. Not good enough? If God wants you to write, He’ll teach you how to improve. So, write, tear it apart, and put it back together with God’s help.
I seem to fall somewhere in between writer’s block and doubting my ability. I sit down, face that computer, pray, and still feel tense. I pray again--and then here’s my guilty secret—I sip from a sweet drink. It’s my pacifier. The sugar must put dopamine into my system while Jesus is filling my mind with exactly what I should write. Hopefully, I’ll outgrow the habit in much the same way my babies eventually tossed their pacifiers in the garbage.
Lane 3: Market
If you’re planning to sell your book, you need to connect to an audience.
Blogs can be helpful online.
Speaking engagements help you connect in person. Does public speaking terrify you? Me too. But it’s next on my list, now that I’ve figured out which people I would like to connect with, people who might benefit from my life experiences.
Swag. Often considered to be book marks and business cards, what else might you be able to use as free “stuff” as you get closer to publication? What angles are written into the story that you can use? . These are tools that serve your reader. I’ve considered cards that show the finger spelling alphabet for my World Without Sound series.
Lane 4: Platform
Platform overlaps with marketing. Whereas marketing is a planning lane waiting for the “GO” sign, platform is the express lane where you and your readers and other writers carpool as you implement the plans above. Your street team is happy to help you spread the word about your ready-to-launch book.
So, how can you maneuver this crazy highway?
How can you slide from lane to lane without crashing?
Currently, this is what’s working for me:
Four days of writing. Blogs, WIP (both write and revise), newsletters, queries, and proposals. While I have deadlines for blogs, I choose other tasks according to need. Until I have an offer, I try to query one agent or editor each week. Thanks to my critique groups, I must make time for the next chapter of my book at some point during the week.
Two days of marketing/platform-building. Practicing memes with Book Brush and PicMonkey, platform course work, small groups that focus on platform, public speaking outlines and rehearsals, social media posts—both mine and connecting with other writers and sharing their posts. This month, I’ll also be creating a one-sheet.
Once I have a book in publication mode, I’ll probably add an extra day for platform which will take away from my writing days temporarily.
One day of learning.. Other than days dedicated to conferences, one hour on a Sunday to read about writing is a luxury.
Do I get every item done on all of those lists each day?
Of course not! But I have moved forward, and that’s what Ginny Yttrup stresses as we journey on the author’s highway.
middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister and is currently working on a women’s fiction series.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.
A wife, mother of three, and grandmother to eight, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!
Where Linda can be found on the web: