Monday, February 13, 2006

Future Tactics

The way to climb Mt. Everest is one step at a time.

The way to build the pyramids is one stone at a time.

Yet some writers believe that they can write one book, and it will catapult them past the pyramids, past Everest, to the top of the charts, with no dues paid, no steps taken, no stones lain.

It happens sometimes.

So does being struck by lightening while being attacked by sharks and simultaneously winning the lottery.

Luck occurs. But it favors the prepared.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

The only way to win a marathon is to push yourself as hard as you can. Everyone else is simply trying to finish. To win takes something special.

It all begins with setting and achieving goals. Aim too high, you fail. Aim too low, and you won't even attain last place.

How are you training for this marathon?

My questions to my fellow writers, both newbies and published:
  1. What have you done today to further your career?
  2. What will you accomplish by the end of this week?
  3. What are your goals for the end of the month?
  4. On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?

Greatness involves a plan. Have you thought about yours?

28 comments:

Stacey Cochran said...

I thought it was an interesting coincidence this past weekend that I had my first bookstore event in Sedona, the exact day that Sedona had its annual marathon. In fact, there were bright orange cones literally around the corner where the bookstore was located, and the whole time I did my discussion runners were passing by the store.

Writing novels for life is very much like running marathons for a living (in fact, the pay is equally as bad and uncertain I'd say).

I've often thought that my background in my teens and twenties as a distance runner was the best preparation I could have had to be a writer.

Stacey
staceycochran.com

Jude Hardin said...

1. I worked on critiques for the upcoming PJ Parrish workshop on suspense at Sleuthfest. I also wrote notes to further advance the scene I'm working on in my current project.

2. I will finish the critiques, and finish the scene I'm working on. In my scene, there will be a goal, motivation and conflict, and TENSION on every page. Next week, I'll move on to my next scene. Once again, GMC and tension ON EVERY PAGE.

3. I will be prepared for Sleuthfest. My ten-minute pitch for Peter Rubie will be polished to perfection. My critiques for the workshop will reflect the positive and negative aspects of each writer's work. I will do my best to offer constructive criticism. My current project will be at 15K words with TENSION ON EVERY PAGE.

4. I will have an agent, a good one who will work with me toward my goal of becoming a bestseling author.

Thanks for helping me outline my goals, Joe. Like Fast Eddie said in the classic film THE HUSTLER, after he took a risky shot against Minnesota Fats and pulled it off with guts and talent, "How can I lose?"

Well, I could give up. That's a sure way of losing. As we say in the south: ain't fittin' ta happen.

HawkOwl said...

What have you done today to further your career? I got a new jacket, with a Sterling Trucks logo on it. It shows I support the company I (kinda) work for.

What will you accomplish by the end of this week? I'm working on scoring one truck run for this week.

What are your goals for the end of the month? Remind Derek of my existence at every opportunity so that when he needs a driver, I'm the first name that comes to his mind.

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon? Hopefully on December 31 I'll be on maternity, not running this marathon.

Oh, you mean my writing career? I was talking about my trucking career. So let's see.

What have you done today to further your career? I've participated in the 2YN class on Forward Motion by exchanging feedback with other writers on my 2YN project. I also participated in the forum I maintain for writers in the Territories (not that it's very active).

What will you accomplish by the end of this week? Finish my business plan (yes, it's writing), and finish the first chapter of my new fiction project.

What are your goals for the end of the month? Get caught up on my TILs project and see that the new project keeps moving forward.

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon? I will have written over 130,000 words. Yeah, it's not a lot of words, but that's better than zero words.

Mark Terry said...

Hmmm, okay, I'll bite:

1. Worked on the edits of The Serpent's Kiss, due to my editor at Midnight Ink by June 1.

2. Worked on the novel-to-be-identified-later that I'm writing under a pseudonym

3. Worked on library database for PR for The Devil's Pitchfork, pub date Oct. 2006, Midnight Ink

4. Blogged on Joe Konrath's blog and shamelessly dropped names

5. Discussed reviews I'm writing and profiles, etc, with K. Sharp, editor of the ITW newsletter

6. Lots of other stuff, but this is Joe's blog, not mine

James Goodman said...

What have you done today to further your career?
Sent out a query to a prospective agent.

What will you accomplish by the end of this week?
Begin work on synopsis for second novel.

What are your goals for the end of the month?
Begin work on third novel

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?
I will have my first publishing credit actually hit the shelves. Its release has been delayed a couple of times, but I think we are getting close now.

J. Carson Black said...

This week:

I plan to do at least one more blog on my website, and visit one new writer's blog.

I will finish the changes my cop consultant gave me on my almost-finished manuscript, THE DEVIL'S HOUR.

We're sending out copies of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON to terrorism experts THIS WEEK.

I'm reading the best books in preparation for starting the writing of BACK IN BLACK on March 1. I am also coming up with the plot in my journal.

I'll be signing with my fellow members of Southwest Crime Ink in Patagonia, Arizona, at the Patagonia Library Roundup. (I was smart and asked the bookstore to order more than they usually would - I think they would have ordered only five or so books - and told her I'd pay her at her cost for the ones that didn't sell. This is instead of bringing my own books and not racking up official sales. I may just be beginning to think like you, J.A.)

I also just registered for Thrillerfest.

This next month:

I plan to have a new deal for the third and fourth Laura Cardinal Books.

Will start the writing of BACK IN BLACK, number 4, on March 1.

Goals for that: 1000 words a day, 5 days a week, 20,000 words a month, 4 and a half months to complete the first draft.

I will also be signing at both Borders here in town, The High Desert Crimes Book Fair, the Arizona Book Festival, and will be opening a Borders in Superstition Springs, Arizona.

As always, I will try in every way for this book to top the ones before it.

I will use the tenets I came up with for THE DEVIL'S HOUR, which are:

1. addiction - every word, clause, sentence, paragraph and page have to be like Lay's Potato Chips--you can't eat just one.
2. Laura Cardinal as the anchor of the book. She draws us through.
3. Go all the way--don't pull my punches.
4. in the last draft, make sure the writing is the best I can make it--consistent in style, and making sure it does not get in the way.

Jake

Sandra Ruttan said...

What are your goals for the end of the month?
To pester JA Konrath and discover why a movie was named after him. Why did they name the 'Rath' of 'Kon' after you? Do people ask you why you're evil enough to be on trekkie radar?
On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?
Well, if I don't get answers here, I'll follow you around BoucherCon with placards saying you're building destructive weapons and plan to launch them on unsuspecting citizens.

Or I'll just throw nuts at you in the bar.


What have you done today to further your career?
Exposure through short fiction and interview publication. Contest placements.
What will you accomplish by the end of this week?
Sell short story (done!). Interview Cornelia Read. Register for BoucherCon.
What are your goals for the end of the month?
Interview Tracy Sharp. Finish work for next Spinetingler. Finish other short story. Editing for two people. Begin review of book being released this fall.
On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?
My first book (should) be published by then - target is fall, publisher and I discussing date. Plus several more interview, article and hopefully short story credits.
Greatness involves a plan. Have you thought about yours? My husband is always on me about that. I plan to live well off the insurance money.

Heather Brewer said...

What have you done today to further your career?
I hired a reputable, talented web designer to revamp heatherbrewer.com

What will you accomplish by the end of this week?
I'll write at least another 3,000 words on my current WIP.

What are your goals for the end of the month?
To send off my attendance fees for the Backspace Conference, read at least three more books, further research self-promotion, and to write at least 10,000 words for my current WIP.

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?
I will have launched my new-and-improved website, completed two books in my YA series, turned one of those books into my editor at Dutton, and completed a separate YA book as well.

JA Konrath said...

Today-- Write 3000 words of Dirty Martini. Send out a short story that was rejected yesterday. Monitor blog. Catch up on email. Register for Bouchercon.

This week-- Have 17k done on Dirty Martini. Write two more blog entries. Finished editing THESE GUNS FOR HIRE antho and turn it in. Blurb a friend's book.

This month-- finish Dirty Martini (32k left to go as of today).

This year-- Finish Dirty Martini. Outline next Jack book. Write a thriller screenplay. Plan my book tour. Visit 500 bookstores for drop in signings. Sell a technothriller under a pseudonym.
Attend several conferences. Try a podcast blog. Submit my childrens book to publishers. Do holiday signings, library events, and media interviews. Write two newsletters. Have another writing contest. Keep my website updated.

Three years-- Crack the NYT list with my sixth Jack book. Have a movie option sold. Have a pseudonym in print. Make the cover of a magazine.

Ten years-- Own the entire world.

Adam Hurtubise said...

What's the title of the Children's Book, Joe?

"How to Kill the Babysitter and Make it Look Like Suicide"?

Will there be illustrations?

Sandra Ruttan said...

"Ten years-- Own the entire world."

Will they have colonies on the moon by then?

Rob Gregory Browne said...

1. What have you done today to further your career?

Got the weblog up and running again. I think. For some at least. Also, made some interesting plans for a ThrillerFest event.

2. What will you accomplish by the end of this week?

Several pages of book #2, finish and post Blogcast #3. Talk to agent about a new series idea.

3. What are your goals for the end of the month?

To spend more time writing. And I suspect this will be copy editing month on book #1. Promotional activity is great, but if you have nothing to promote...

4. On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?

Book two will be finished and off to my editor. I will have attended the Author's at Sea conference, the ThrillerFest and Bouchercon and, time willing, a trip to NYC to shake hands with my editor and the marketing folks, and buy them all a beer.

My bound manuscripts and, later, ARC's will be out for blurbs. And I'll be gearing up for the release of A MEASURE OF DARKNESS by doing several mock interviews for practice.

The release party will be either in Ojai or Santa Barbara. Everyone invited. Even you, Joe. :)

David J. Montgomery said...

Have you picked out your pseudonym yet?

I'm torn between Harry Balzanga and Phil McKracken.

JA Konrath said...

Ha! Phil McKracken.

My favorite is Howie Felteraz.

Jeri said...

1. Day: Sent final edits of novel to editor (speaking of the end of a marathon!). Begin proposal for Book 2 once I stop procrastinating by reading/commenting on Joe's blog.

2. Week: Register for convention. Continue work on proposal. Read novel by author I want to ask for a blurb.

3. Month: Send proposal to editor.

4. Year: First novel published and promoted, write second novel in series as well as first of another series.
Stretch goal: Write at least one novella/short story to accompany one of the above series.

Ah yes, the best-laid plans... If this were a novel, now is when the Major Complication (illness, meteor, marauding locusts) would occur.

J. Carson Black said...

I forgot to mention what I'm doing today, and what I expect to have done by the end of the year.

Today I went to the racetrack, hung out on the backside, and watched a friend's horse work. It got me thinking I need to put a racetrack in one of the next couple of books. Next, I'm going to fix all the cop stuff in THE DEVIL'S HOUR, in preparation to sending off the book.

I'm also reading, in preparation for starting my new book, BACK IN BLACK, on March 1. I'm reading a Lee Child book.

I wrote a new blog this morning. I sent an email to Keith Olbermann regarding the book that's currently out, which has eco-terrorism in it. (Hey, I think big.)

I'm going to make some changes to my website, adding a paragraph about each book--how I got the idea, what was going on in my life when I worked on the book.

I'm going to have a great Valentine's Day dinner with my husband.

By the end of the year? Should be ramping up for THE DEVIL'S HOUR to come out, probably in January. *This* time I'm not letting grass grow under my feet and waiting for galleys to get blurbs from well-known authors--by the time it gets to galleys, the publisher has shut the door and says they can't get blurbs on the cover, which pisses off the good people who took the time to read the book and write the blurb.

I'm going to a heck of a lot more bookstores, too. Sign stock whenever and wherever.

My goal for five years from now: To make a very good living with my Laura Cardinal books and maybe a standalone or two. I want a goodly number of people reading my books. I don't want to make the NYT Bestseller List. Maybe the Extended Bestseller List. I want a life.

Mostly, I want to do this for the rest of my life, because writing is the best part!

Jude Hardin said...

Joe,

Would you ever consider collaborating on a novel? We could both use a pseudonym.

The title I have in mind is FULL MOON RISING.

Written by E. Ben Turova and Howie Felteraz.

Christa M. Miller said...

I'm talking fiction, not my regular freelance stuff...

What have you done today to further your career? I pulled out 2 short stories that I think I can revise to sell to crime magazines, and have begun writing notes for those revisions.

What will you accomplish by the end of this week? I'll have begun work on at least one revision, and made headway on my next novel draft.

What are your goals for the end of the month? I will submit at least one short story to an online crime fiction magazine. Depending on what the agent reading my partial has to say, I might also send out another round of queries.

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon? I plan to be a published short-story writer, have a good agent working to sell my first novel, and be done or close to it with my second. And have an updated website.

Thanks for posting this, Joe. Till now I had only vague ideas of what I was thinking about doing, but it's nice to firm it up like this.

Mary Tsao said...

Your advice is so practical. You cut out the sentimental crap and tell it like it is. Thank you.

Here are my answers:

What have you done today to further your career?
Yesterday I posted an interview on my blog with author Suzanne Hansen. She had some interesting thoughts (negative) on self-publishing. Today I finished a book review and sent it to an editor friend for feedback.

What will you accomplish by the end of this week?
I will revise the book review and submit it to the real editor for (fingers crossed!) publication in an online literary journal.

What are your goals for the end of the month?
This weekend I'm attending a writing/blogging workshop with 30 other writers/bloggers. I've got a wallet full of business cards and I'm ready to use them!

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?
I will have put Novel #1 through at least one round of edits and written Novel #2.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

What have you done today to further your career?

Blogging and networking, baby.

What will you accomplish by the end of this week?

Cemented some contacts, worked on my thesis (not a writing goal per se but I have to get the damn thing done to free up my writing time again), and written at least 5 new pages in the WIP (this number to increase as the thesis reaches completion).

What are your goals for the end of the month?

Thesis first draft done! One more good, forward motion chapter in the WIP (to increase as thesis blah blah).

On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?

Master's degree finished (not a writing goal, but I started it, I'm finishing it)! WIP no longer a WIP, but finished and making the rounds.

Greatness involves a plan. Have you thought about yours?

Every damn day. And twice on the days I read this blog. :)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Let's see, what I want to accomplish:

1. End of day...have the plot lines drawn for MS #4

2. End of week...flesh out the rest of the red herrings and twists for MS #4

3. End of month...edits complete for MS #1

4. End of Year...a four book deal with a fabulous publisher!

Jude Hardin said...

"Three years--crack the NYT list with my sixth Jack book."

Joe, I'm happy to see that you're finally willing to admit your goal. I think it's important to be able to vocalize and visualize our goals, no matter how lofty. If you can't SEE it happening, then it probably won't happen.

When I was a teenager, some friends of mine who went to a different high school (St.Xavier in Louisville, KY) were laughing one day about this geeky kid with crooked teeth who said he was going to be a movie star some day. He didn't say "I hope to be an actor" or "if things go my way and I get lucky..." He said, "I'M GOING TO BE A MOVIE STAR SOME DAY." He had no doubts in his mind, even though the other kids ridiculed him.

That young man's name was Tom Cruise.

Enough said.

So Joe: Why not visualize DIRTY MARTINI on the list? Why not work on it and perfect it until it's the best thing you can possibly produce? Why wait for the sixth novel? Do it now, my friend. Make DIRTY MARTINI an irresistible stand-alone thriller. You have the talent and the connections. Make it happen now. The only thing standing in your way is you. Dig deep and say screw the deadline. Drop the blog and the promotions and the short stories and put every ounce of energy you have into making it happen NOW.

You have a solid foundation for your pyramid. It's time now to sprint for the apex.

JA Konrath said...

Here's the deal with the NYT list---that's just a simple way to interpret success.

If I cracked the list, I'd be selling enough books and making enough money to be comfortable financially and able to slow down on self-promotion.

Could that happen with Dirty Martini? Sure. It's a damn good book, with a great hook. It could even happen with Rusty Nail, coming out this summer.

But the traditional route to success is a gradual build, not a sudden spike. It's unlikely my sales would quadruple between books, no matter how much I visualize it.

So I'll stick with a steady growth, and an exponentially expanding fan base, which should be able to sustain itself by the sixth book.

As for visualization, do I know that I'm be a big name some day?

Yes. Thanks to the wonders of Scientology.

Erik Ivan James said...

Came by from Sandra Ruttan link.

End of March: First draft of coauthored business book ms finished.

End of July: first draft of ms for book of vignettes finished.

End of December: last 12 - 15 chapters of fiction novel series (1st book) finished -- first write.

Thanks for the post.

Jude Hardin said...

Are you really into Scientology, or was that a joke?

Whatever works, I guess.

Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

1. What have you done today to further your career?

Just got off the phone with my independant publicist. Trying to set up a few local book signings...well, not so local, about 4 hours north of me. But upon checking their systems and seeing the category of my book, 3 CRMs advised my publicist that they don't do well with African-American sales in that store---so pointless to consider a signing with me.

2. What will you accomplish by the end of this week?

Attend a few scheduled online chats, a few via speakerphone, signings in four African-American bookstores.

3. What are your goals for the end of the month?

Try again to convince my editor and publisher that since my books have no black characters or subject matter, they aren't African-American fiction. This would grant me access to the other 85% of the marketplace that said inappropriate classification automatically cut me out of.

4. On December 31, what will you have accomplished to win this marathon?

Will have successfully marketed myself and my current and backlist non-racial releases to a wide audience of....African-Americans.

Will hopefully have convinced editor and publisher this time around that my book covers should not bare black faces or any such African-American racial depiction, as the plots and storylines have nothing to do with African-Americans or their culture.

Will hopefully no longer be a victim of racial discrimination by my publisher. Will gain access to 85% of the book-buying public. Will see my upcoming release appropriately categorized as per its non-racial content and stocked in the "Fiction & Literature" shelves of major bookstore chains, rather than relegated to the AA fiction sections and tables (that's usually providing that my publisher feels like paying for the table placement to make it easier for black folks to find it)

kathie said...

I have a plan...have been implementing it seriously for four years. I have an agent, a book for sale and I hope some with some damn good luck an editor will fall in love with it. Though compelled to write, I am still frustrated if I think about the process too much. The rest of my life was more concrete...do steps 1,2,3 and you'll yeild X. I suppose that's why seeing my book in my local book store will be such an incredible thrill...I dare say on par with having kids????Ouch. Maybe not, but right now it feels like it will be similar.

kathie said...

You are all seriously credentialed writers. I'm glad to share space with you and know I'll learn a lot, but damn...Now I really need that publisher to pick me up...don't want to get booted for being less than...Great site.