Being Prepared

Once I received "the call" about representation, my to-do list doubled, maybe even quadrupled! I gave you a glimpse of some of the things I'm working on in the last post.

In hindsight there are things I wish I would have completed before "the call." Here are just a few:
  • Have a website in place Most if not all published writers are expected to have websites. I'd planned to develop mine over the summer but now wish I'd done it months ago. In the book proposal I'm writing, I had to list ways I plan to market my writing. I would appear more professional if I could mention my website rather than having to tell about my future plans to have one. Besides, having one in operating order would have saved me the hassle when I have lots of other new things to deal with.
  • Have a professional-looking photo. This is another thing I have to send with my book proposal. It would have been easier to have this sitting on file, rather than having to take time out of my frantic editing to get one taken.
  • Have a plan for the next book. One of the first things Rachelle asked me to do is write a one page synopsis for my next book. I stammered and swallowed hard before I gave her a semi-coherent response: "What?" Although I had a lot of ideas floating around, I wish I'd been more prepared with a definite story idea (or even several). I think publishers want to work with authors long term. They may be more likely to take a chance on us if they see the potential for future books.

Fortunately, these kinds of things are not deal-breakers. But if I'd had them in place, I may have saved myself some stress!

We can never be totally prepared for all of the new and unexpected things that we'll face on this writing journey. Sometimes we'll walk in the fog and have to learn as we go. But in the competitive world of publishing, we need all of the advantages we can get and so should seek to be as prepared and professional as possible.

What about you? Have you ever been caught unprepared? What do you wish you would have done better? On the flip side, what are you doing to prepare for the future? If you are actively querying, would you be ready if you got "the call"?

Have a great weekend!


  1. I've tried to do these things, but am still working on them. I'm getting a "professional" picture done this summer (hoping to loose weight first, SEE fat friday post, LOL)

    I DO have a website, but it is in need of MAJOR editing. I like the material, just not the format.

    Story ideas? I'm like you. I have a bunch floating around my head but nothing down on paper. I do have the one finished, and two started with synoposis's, but that's it. The others are just little notes on paper itching to have a story made out of them.

    So, I'd think I'd be somewhat ready, but I could be MORE ready. Thanks for bringing these things to light as a reminder!!

  2. I'm pretty good at working on the fly and/or spontaneously, and luckily, have people who could whip up a nice website practically overnight if necessary. You can't ever really be fully prepared, so it's good to be fast on your feet (or keyboard). :)

  3. You're reading my mind! I need to get my headshot done and my website up and running this summer.

  4. Yeah I kinda had this brain wave yesterday! I've gotten a good start on almost all of the above. I truly want to be prepared when my time comes around. Unlike motherhood, where I was blindsided by it's difficulties. In the end (just as your journey will be) it was ALL very worth it. But I wish I would have been more prepared for what was in store for me!

  5. Krista: At least you have a website! I'm sure it takes much less time to update than to get one going! Sounds like you're well on your way to being prepared!

    Angie: I agree, it totally helps if you can work quick under pressure!

    Erica: I'm glad to hear I'm not too far behind on things!

    Marybeth: You are doing great with preparing! (And lucky to have a hubby that can help you with your website!)

  6. Hi Jody,

    I really appreciate this insight! That is what is so cool about you, you look out for others on the path, helping to remove stones, holding back sticks that could smack us in the face! Thank you!!! I am ready to announce my website and might just do that today. I also have some stories in the oven.

    Of all things it is the photo that scares me most. It's just not "my thing" getting my picture taken. I'm so much for the natural look and I look ridiculous when I try to picture = scary to me.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Hi Jody, I really appreciate you sharing all of this. Sometimes writers are between projects, or experiencing a writer's block, or just unsure of what to do next. These things you mention sound like great projects to work on in those instances, b/c it's all a part of the writing. And even so, I'd imagine that when "the call" comes, there's always that element of unprepared (yet amazing) surprise!

  8. Thanks so much for this list. I've never heard of a fiction book proposal before. I was under the impression only non-fiction writers had to do that. Good to know.

    Lynnette Labelle

  9. Wendy: I found a friend who's a photographer and she does the most natural, beautiful photos I've seen. So I'm hoping she can work her magic with me!

    Joanne: I just loved what you said about working on these things between projects! What great advice!!

    Lynette: I think a proposal is a pretty standard thing for an agent to use when getting ready to submit your book to various publishing houses, even with fiction. And it's definitely something to start working on ahead if you can!

  10. I know Jody! I think about these things too. I've been putting off the professional picture, but this summer I'm breaking down and doing it.

    And, I have to say, you're prepared. You are. You have so much more in place than many writers who get the call. I congratulate you!

  11. Oh, boy, just thinking of what your going through makes me praise God that I'm not you. I don't do stress well!

    So I guess I better get prepared for if God ever does call publication to me.

    I do have a website. The content I like, but I wish the graphics--look of it--reflected the type of stories I write more. But that costs a lot of money and so I'm not sure I can do anything about that at this point. I keep hoping my daughter takes a course on web creation and can take mine on as project. She has great photos that I'd love to use as the background.

    Story ideas I have, but synopsis of these, NO! I thought of Mary Conneally immediately when you said this. I think she had something like 18 stories complete and ready by the time she sold her first and then she just kept selling the others so that she had soooo many coming out in no time. Now that's preparedness! Her agent must have loved finding her!

    Professional photo? Personally, I think your current one is very beautiful! I haven't gotten one done of me yet, either. I know that at some conferences they do have professional photographers go and you can get an appointment to have a good head shot taken. I wonder if ACFW will do that this year. But you're right, it's just one more thing to add to the list. However, if I got my head shot done now and don't get published for ten or twenty years, it's going to be kind of outdated, don't you think? I think this may be one thing that really does have to fall into the crunch time to-do list.

    Okay, enough procrastinating. Must get to editing. But it was nice chatting with you again, Jody. And I am praying for you through this busy and exciting time.

  12. Jody, that's a great list of things to have. I wish I'd started preparing a lot sooner! I only started blogging four months ago, didn't have a website until recently, but my picture is okay for now. I think it's a wonderful idea for writers to get these things prepared for the future if they're seriously pursuing publication. Even if you don't actually start a website, you can still have all your pages figured out and the content you want on their for the day you do. And blogging is a wonderful tool. The sooner you start, the better!

  13. Hi Jody,

    Love hearing your inside scoop here. I am actively querying and feel prepared for the most part. I purchased my domain name earlier this year. For now, my blog IS my website, though when my budget allows, I'd love to revamp and professionalize it.

    It can seem sort of crazy preparing (and spending $) on the uncertain venture of publishing. But I sure appreciate your tips. A plan for book #2 is something I need to pursue.

  14. Jill: You are doing such a great job! I think you could write a much better post than I could about how to be prepared and professional!

    Eileen: The good thing about getting a photo now is that it would capture us looking young and beautiful (before we get more gray!). :) Seriously, I don't think I'll change that much in my appearance over the next few years. (And NO you won't have to wait 10-20 years Eileen!) Thanks for chatting! I've missed everyone with only posting three times a week!

    Cindy: What a great suggestion to start getting our website pages typed up! We can for sure start brainstorming ideas even if we don't have the site designed! Thanks for that idea!

    Julie: It does seem crazy to start spending so much money! But I think when we reach a point where we know we're close, then we can reassure ourselves that the money is the start up of our business.

  15. Jody, we are in the exact same place! I'm supposed be doing the symopsis of my next work (and writing it, too)....I have a general idea of what it is, but am struggling w/ some of the details -- ugh! If you find the muse, will you send it over to my house???

  16. Whoa. I don't have any of that stuff. I was hoping to create a website using blogger. Do you think that's okay? Oh man. Sigh.

    Have fun with all that.

  17. OK Jody, you've motivated me to think ahead. I love all the optamism!

  18. I'm not quite ready to query for my books yet, but your ideas are a great preparation for the time I do. Thanks for the information.

  19. Tess: Aww shucks! I was hoping you could send the muse my way!

    Jessica: I'm hoping to get to my website in the next few weeks. Jill has given me some great ideas for how to do it. She'll be my tutor in this whole thing! Maybe we can jump into this next phase together!

    T.Anne: Thanks for always being so encouraging!

    Nancy: Glad you stopped by! Hope you can find something to take away and use now!

  20. Thanks for more insight into the journey. I think we'll all believe we'll have time to do these things after we get the call. Obviously not.

    Perhaps there's a list of to-dos that writers need to start working on once they start submitting and getting more requests for partials or fulls than not, or once they start finaling in contests. Publication may or may not be imminent, but at least we'll be ready. If one does these things too soon, it might feel like a waste, and have to be redone later anyway, at least the picture. (I'm with you on this one, Krista!)

  21. My biggest concern would be my topic for a next book. Nothing has come to me yet. What did you say??

  22. I love that you are sharing this journey with us! I get very excited for your posts. :) I'm thinking about a website... but not sure what I would put on it!

  23. Thanks for the update on how everything is progressing. It is neat to be sitting on the sidelines watching! wb

  24. I have actually been thinking about getting a professional writing photo (since I couldn't find a single photo of just me in my entire PC). I think your post just pushed me over. Although I still have some wiggle room since I'm not to the querying stage yet.

  25. Patricia: I think once a writer starts querying seriously they should be prepared, especially if they start getting requests for partials or fulls. And as for the picture, the earlier the better for me! That way, I'll capture the younger me!

    Terri: It's hard to think of the next book when we're loaded down in the middle of other projects! But it doesn't hurt to start brainstorming!

    Katie: I'd say check out Jill's website! She's done an excellent job and can give you an idea of what to start posting on it. I think it would be a great thing to have going by ACFW and be able to list on a one-sheet.

    Warren: Thanks for the encouragement!

    Joyce: I think a professional photo will only help! And we can always update at a later point in our career.

  26. Jody, I think your current picture is beautiful!! As for a website, I think that is an excellent idea. I remember seeing one site that listed their book proposals on a page. I am sure that would be helpful to agents.

  27. I could handle the first and third. But the picture thing? I so hate to have my picture taken. As for the website - can you very easily switch your blog to a web site using many of the same elements? Just wondering.

  28. Oh, this is a great post! And so helpful. I love that you share all of this with us, and I'm very grateful, so thank you!

    I am not ready for the call. I don't have a website, but I have a great blog, I think. So that is a start. I have a professional photo, and do portrait photography so that's not a problem. I have plans in place for subsequent books, seeing as they are already written. :)

    So I guess I'm not doing too bad! Although I am sure there is a lot more that needs to go on my list. So glad you could get these checked off your list!

  29. Sherrinda: Thanks for thinking that my picture is okay! I'm hoping to get a professional photo soon.

    MidLife Jobhunter: I'm not too savy with websites yet! I hope that I can learn more this summer once I get my website going!

    Lady Glamis: Wish you lived close enough to take my picture! I'm sure you'd do a wonderful job! And yes, your blog is fantastic!


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