Before I was contracted or even agented, I did a number of things to prepare for the future. And in hindsight I’m really glad I did.
Those early days are the best time to lay the foundation for all that’s to come down the road.Here are a few reasons why:
* If we’re serious about publication, then we should do our best to present ourselves as professionals to the writing community no matter where we’re at in our writing journeys. We never know who’s watching, what connections we’ll make, or when doors will open.
*If we prepare for the future, we’ll save ourselves some hassle later, when we’re trying to wade through a whole lot of other new responsibilities.
* If we plan to succeed, then we’re more likely to reach our goals. If we tell ourselves, “I’ll start taking my writing career more seriously if I get an agent or book contract,” then we may already have a mind frame of defeat.
When I look back at what I did, here are 4 ways I prepared for my future as a published author, things that all of us can do:
1. Use our author name consistently on all social media sites. Whatever name we plan to have on our books is the name we should use everywhere, in every URL, on our blogs, twitter, facebook—everywhere. We need to carefully choose the name we want to use to build our web presence, so that later when our book releases, people are already familiar with our name. And so that when readers google us, they can actually find us.
In other words, usernames like twinkletoes or susysunshine, while cute and creative, won’t provide the long term benefit from social media that we desire (unless of course we’re planning to use twinkletoes on our book cover).
If you’re not using your “author name,” I’d suggest making the change as soon as possible.
2. Use a professional-looking photo.
Note, I did not say that we have to spend hundreds of dollars on a photo shoot to get a professional photo taken (although, I’m not against that either). I’ll let you in on a secret. My current author photo was taken by a high school senior who loves photography, has all the right equipment, and was interested in building up her portfolio.
We don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a professional-looking picture, but the point is we should get one. Then we can use our photos in our avatars and should use the same picture consistently on all of our social media sites.
Agents often need an author photo for proposals (mine did). And our publishers will need an author photo too—particularly for sales and marketing purposes. I was glad I had one ready and that I didn’t have to scramble at the last minute to provide one to my agent or publisher.
3. Set up an online “office.”
When we reach the querying stage, we would be wise to have a cyber office. I don’t necessarily think fiction authors need to have a website before getting a book contract (I didn’t). A blog that utilizes the “Pages” tabs can function much like a website. There are also simple Do-It-Yourself websites with templates for writers who want to buy and reserve their domain names. Author, Jill Kemerer, has a helpful article: 5 Things to Consider Before You Design Your Website.
The fact is, once a writer begins querying and garnering interest, agents and publishers WILL want to find out a little more about you. If they google your name, what will they find? Will they like what they see?
No one likes when a writer gets a book contract and suddenly they’re everywhere, all the time. They’re asking for interviews or book reviews and every tweet is about their book.
If we start out slow and consistent, building genuine friendships with other writers through our interactions on various sites, then when the book contract arrives, those friends will offer to help, they’ll want to support, they’ll genuinely take an interest in our book.
So, while I don’t recommend unagented and uncontracted fiction writers spend enormous amounts of time building platforms at the expense of working on writing skills, I do suggest that they form genuinely supportive friendships.
What do you think? Are you preparing for the future? What things have you done that have helped you set a good foundation for your writing career?