Few in the world that can say writing is their primary source of income. Most part-time authors have income producing careers that command attention. When an opportunity to write appears, making the most of that rare commodity called time is essential. Being Agile includes being prepared, to work with flexibility, readiness and commitment to act when and where the availability arises. Knowing how to formulate and segment work will ensure the most efficient use of time for you and your network.
Tapping at the keyboard is only the beginning. Authors need to be competent in many areas.
- Find beta readers
- Sort beta suggestions
- Formulate character traits
- Track plotlines
- Rewrite edits with interest grabbing intensity
As if that is not enough, authors need also provide multiple services and tasks beyond their skill in word craft.
- Review for fellow writers
- Write and send queries to publishers
- Choose book covers
- Enter contests
- Create promotions
And, this is only a few of the spare time activities with which you need engage. The shortage of available time requires us to develop the ability to work on any needed task effectively, reinforce successful behaviors, and play well with others.
Before writing begins, there are a few activities you can undertake to develop an environment in which success is inevitable.
- Form a strong network base
- Evaluate personal strengths
- Evaluate personal weakness
- Identify your strengths and qualities to offer members of your network.
Remember that your talent and connections are your contributions to forming a strong team. Be a member of a responsive network of professionals, able to produce a product while participating as a team, rather than an individual in a large group. Success in any endeavor is often due to the broader team and is much harder to capture as a lone wolf. Identify your talents.
Each of us has a network, whether small and intimate or large and diverse. And each of the people in our lives has a talent. It is human nature to seek out people with like interests and skills. Seek out and identify the abilities and interests of friends, family, and peers and realize their values.
Analyze the people that you know, or have known in the past? What contributions can they add, and what are their needs? Reach out to refresh old connections, and maintain those that are interested in supporting you in developing your craft. Find new ways to contribute to their endeavors and make connections relevant. Everyone has a contribution to make.
- At home parents can be recruited as beta readers
- Retired relatives can be editors
- Grandparents are an awesome source of information
- Nieces and nephews with art skills help with swag creations for your brand
Expand your network by seeking out those with talent where you are weakest. Reach out to as many people, as you can, to develop a network of capable people with whom you may strengthen relationships and develop trust. Compliment your strengths and begin to fill the gaps created by your weaknesses. Assembling a strong network of friends and peers is one way to ensure that you can make the most of every creative opportunity. Take a long hard look at your existing and possible network for:
- People that you may refer to others
- People to hire as a personal assistant
- People as subject matter experts to respond to inquiries
- People with research skills to provide valuable information
- People who are great leads to those who can be subject matter experts
Identify new connections that will make your network stronger through:
- Social media
- Your local community
- Your church group or local clubs
- Friends of a supportive family member
- Hard working peers
New people you meet can build your network with every “Hello.” Follow up with friendly and informative communications, and when you are able, contribute.
Streamline your time by learning how to segment your work and when to utilize your contacts. Often, deadlines and available time dictate what gets worked on and when. People in a robust network are interested and willing to develop new techniques, learn new strategies, identify new sources of information, and the opportunity to establish new markets or new readers.
Amongst a supportive network, you should be able to share each other’s pitfalls, successes, and joys, as well as enhance each other’s skills and insights. In this way, become stronger as writers and as people. When you sit down for those precious moments to write or research, your network contacts are available, informative, and responsive as you seek help in the areas of their expertise in implementing new skills you have learned, and respond in like when contacted. Reach out to them and share your thoughts and ideas, and incorporate their knowledge into your writing preparations.
Where you are weak, work together to strengthen that skill. When contacting a great beta reader, establish a plan with them before beginning, and agree to a time-bound commitment before engaging their time. They become a part of your writing team to ensure the success of the project. Establish a short-term plan together that fits within your time budget, to set a cadence and work through that plan. It is that strong network that develops each other with combined experience and knowledge, eliminating skill gaps that limit the success of the individual writer.
This year at the Chanticleer Author Conference Nancy and I learned about several new resources on the web to reach new readers, test out new story lines and met with various support services available to authors. We learned skills that other authors shared in workshops, in panels, and over meals. We enjoyed connecting with new friends and strengthening previous and virtual relationships. It is always energizing and rewarding to be amongst hardworking, successful, and dedicated industry frontrunners and innovators willing to aid in each other’s successes. More to come on developing and utilizing successful techniques that you can apply in your usable time in the next edition of agile authors.
This article first appeared on Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media