Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Write Well Wednesday: Creating the Preparation Plan

Yesterday we talked about the need for an author to have a preparation plan for how they want to deal with the public/promotional aspect of their career.  Today, I'll help you get started in designing one!


As mentioned yesterday, your plan should be a contingency plan full of "What Ifs," "How Tos," and "Golden Rules" that will help the external world see your author persona as how you want it to be seen.  When constructing the plan, the "How Tos" should follow the "What Ifs."  Based off of what you write for these two, you'll create a basic set of "Golden Rules" that define your public author persona.  In other words, try your best to think of every possible good or bad situation you may end up in.  Figure out how to deal with it without damaging your author persona.  Create a set of easy rules that you can live by whenever you put on your author hat.

Here are some things you'll want to think about:

1.  How accessible to do you want to be?  Think long and hard about separating your personal life from your writer persona.  You don't want creepers stalking you at work or kidnapping your children.  If this requires creating a pen-name, making a new Facebook page, or wearing a Zorro mask, do it.

2.  What can you physically and emotionally deal with?  Decide ahead of time what your physical and emotional limitations are and don't make exceptions.  If you are a sloppy drunk, don't drink with fans or readers.  If you get annoyed by people who can't get to the point, consider an online only persona or taking some classes to deal with this.  If you get grumpy and irritable after being on panels for 12 hours, try to have a wing man to deal with fans.  If you have creepy basement dweller stalkers, get really burly escorts to hustle you out and walk you to your car.

3.  How do you interact with your fans and critics?  Try to treat everyone the same...Otherwise you may end up with someone who thinks they are "special" or "your friend" and might cross a boundary or two.  It's okay to have and make friends, just make sure you can clearly see the line between friendship and hero worshiping stalkers.

4.  When dealing with emails, tweets, and blog posts.  Try to be as kind and clear in responses as you can be.  Don't be afraid to say no to or ignore belligerent people.  It's always a good idea to give a "disclaimer" type of message or note outlining that you don't sit by the computer waiting for fan mail, thus you don't answer right away...

5.  What kind of networking and promoting are you going to do?  Make time for your fans.  The best way to build a following is to interact with people, not to just bludgeon them with advertisements!  Show your fans that you are a real person.  Just.don't spend so much time networking that you forget to write!  If your fans are demanding too much of you then you need to step back and reassess your schedule.  (The best way to do this is to just make sure you set clear rules about your networking before you even create an account!)

6. Are you an author on a soap box?  Consider your transparency and affiliations.  As a person you've got your own socio-political and religious affiliations (or lack of).  Do you want these affiliations to define you as an author?  If not, make sure you keep these topics out of your persona's spotlight.

7.  Do you need a muzzle?  Be careful what you do and say.  Things DO come back and bite you in the bum, especially with the internet.  YA moms don't like their children reading books written by an author whose Girls Gone Wild video is up on YouTube.

8.  What happens when you start interacting with other authors?  Don't be "that guy."  Try your best to be civil and humble -- especially around other authors.  You are not a diva, someone will always pwn you.  These are your "co-workers" so don't go all fan girl when you meet Dean Koontz.

9.  How do you want others to see you?  Dress the part.  You can go professional or dress to your genre, just remember that once you decide you have to remain consistent so that your fans can recognize you more easily.  Also, be appropriate for the genre you write!

These are just some of the things that you're going to want to make sure you consider when creating your plan.  Have fun and good luck!