Saturday, June 6, 2015

Planning Ahead

Scott D. Parker

I’m an independent author early in his writing career. Year zero, in fact. What that means for me is that 2015 has two main goals. The first is to publish books and start to build a body of work. The second is to see how well I can simultaneously produce new work while publishing new work all the while maintaining a day job.

Ironically, the publishing part is much easier. You see, I have six manuscripts already written. All I have to do, really, is pull another manuscript off the shelf as soon as another is published. I read and revise the manuscript, send it off to my editor, make the changes, make the changes other readers find, get a cover, and then publish. I’ll admit that all the struggles I endured publishing WADING INTO WAR were all but gone when I published THE PHANTOM AUTOMOBILES. Experience’ll do that for you.

The harder part is the writing of new material. Day job holders, like me, must carve out writing time amid all the other duties. In fact, just yesterday—one of my off-Fridays—was the first time in nearly six months in which I didn’t have something that needed to be done that wasn’t writing. I woke, I wrote, and I nearly completed a short story that should see the light of day this summer.

Earlier this week, as I was looking ahead to the rest of the year, I took pencil to paper and mapped out the schedule I’d like to maintain for the rest of 2015 and into 2016. I started by listing the books I had on my mind. To my amazement, that total was eighteen. Eighteen, not including the eight I’ve already written. It surprised me, so, naturally, I broke out the spreadsheet.

I’ll say that 13 of the 18 are planned as 30,000-word novellas. Some of those books might expanded when the time comes to write them, but they’re planned to be only 30K. The other 5 are envisioned to be 60K on up. All told that’s 1,148,000 estimated words of fiction I’d like to write.

Wow. So, how long would it take to write that many words? Some full-time authors match that number in a year. I am not a full-time author. I guess you’d call me a part-time fiction author since I hold a day job. But, in the past two years, I have managed to carve out about an hour a day to write. That time is 5am on weekdays, 6am on weekends. Hey, I allow myself to ‘sleep in.’ Also, on weekends, I get an extra hour or so per day. When I am in the zone and the words are flying out of my head and through my fingers, I can bust out 1,000 words in an hour. That doesn’t always happen but it does, more often than not. So if I write an hour a day, it will take me approximately 1,148 days to write just these stories. That’s 3.14 years.

3.14 years to write 18 books. One of my thoughts when seeing those numbers was satisfaction. It is really neat to map out future stories on a schedule and know the approximate order. On the other hand, it’s sobering to know that as much of a pull the fiction writing life is for me, I can’t just stop the day job. I have to have it in order to sustain my family. But, like all lists, you take the first one and begin. Soon, it’ll be done and then I can turn to the next one. Others will arise and work their way into the writing schedule so the list will grow.

On Thursday, Alex wrote about “Playing the Long Game.” I consider this list, this plan, to be my long game.

I’ll always consider these 18 to be the Core 18, the foundation on which I will build my fiction-writing career. Business people always talk about the 3-year plan or the 5-year plan. I’ve got the 3-year plan. The only thing left to do is make it work.

So, other writers out there, do you have a business plan for your fiction-writing career? What is it like?

BTW, today is the 71st anniversary of D-Day. Thanks, as always, to the men who did the incredible against the unimaginable. Just a couple of days ago, I ran across this amazing video about the death toll in World War II. Staggering is an understatement.

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