Are you a writer? How old are you? Not your real age, your writing age. I decided seven years ago that I wanted to pursue a professional writing career part-time. So, I’m roughly seven years old in “writer years” or maybe since it’s been part-time, I’m really 3.5 years. Let’s go with that because this post is about what you need to have done by the time your five years old in writer years.
Do These 5 Things Before You’re 5
1- Find a Writers Tribe
Who are your people? In your town or close to it should be a group of writers. Have you checked them out, attended a meeting, talked with someone? Writing may be a solitary endeavor but it can not be a lonely one. You’ll need the inspiration and motivation of like-minded writers. One day, you’ll need an editor, cover artist, virtual assistant, agent, or critique partner. Books do not get out in the world and do well without help.
More importantly, writers need other people (even if you’re the consummate introvert). Writers understand writers and the tribulations we go through: procrastination, imposter syndrome, unsupportive or confused friends & family. We get it and you need us.
My tribes are Pikes Peak Writers, Washington Romance Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Music City Chapter of RWA. If you can’t find your tribe in person, near you, then look online. Writer Nation is of course one group here for you, but there are so many to Google and try out to see what works for you.
2- Claim your title as the CEO of Writer You, LLC
Do you think of yourself as a small business yet? Well, it’s time. You will be the CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, proofreader, copyeditor, publisher, marketer, and snack-bar chief of your writing business. Even if you decide to go the traditional publishing route, you will still be the captain of that ship and need to understand all the roles that go into getting your book to market.
You need to research your genre to understand its tropes and structure. You need to network with other writers and publishing professionals to understand the business. You need to set up your marketing plan.
While this sounds overwhelming, simply understanding that you are starting a business is your first step. Once you are ready to put your books out there, then you can really start delving into what that means.
3- Attend a writers conference or retreat
A writer’s conference, workshop, or retreat is a wonderful place for both the artist in you and the CEO. The artist will find inspiration and soul-seeking affirmation that you are on the right path and you can do this. Simply being around writers can do this to you. You can ride the wave of validation and creativity for months. And the number of ideas you can generate on a weekend will astound you.
The CEO will network and learn about the business. You’ll better understand genre fiction and what gets the book to market, not to mention the value of learning how to publish from editors and publishers already doing the work.
My favorites are Pikes Peak Writers Conference every year in April and Killer Nashville in August. Click here for a pretty good list of U.S. conferences from The Write Life.
4- Own your URL
Do you have a blog or website already? If you do, and you’re happy with the URL, great! But if you don’t, buy or claim the URL. Use your author name unless you are trying to build a community around a theme, then use a theme most likely to be looked up in a search engine.
Go to GoDaddy or HostGator or WordPress and buy the URL even if you don’t intend to use it right away. For the website, try to get the .com first. If that doesn’t work, .net is still a good one.
Do this for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Medium and Snapchat as well. You may never use any of these, but you’ll have them for the author name you’re using and you’ll be ready to go.
5- Become a Social Media Star on ONE platform
This is the one piece of advice I give all writers no matter where they are in their writing careers. If you haven’t started marketing, start now on one platform.
Find one you like and learn all you can about it and get good at it. Use a dashboard or scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you manage it and free up time for writing.
Facebook is still the leading network and you can post a wide variety of digital content. Instagram is mostly pics but is growing its video outreach and is the fastest-growing outlet in the United States. YouTube is all about videos and is consistently in the top three search platforms online (hopscotching with Google and Facebook for the first position). Pinterest is fun for building vision boards of your books and characters. Tumblr and Medium are good for long-form blogging. Whatever you pick, just pick one and get going.