Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Have a Plan

Recently, a new member of Savvy Authors posted a question that many of us ask at one point in our writing career:

“I’ve written my book, what do I do next?”

It’s not a complicated question, but it did make me stop and think. Where should she go next? Then it hit me – she needs a plan. However, that isn’t something I can work out for her. Having a book plan is something each of us needs to sit down and figure out on our own. Yes, just like you write out a synopsis and a chapter outline, you need to have a written book plan as well. I keep mine posted on the bulletin board in front of my computer to remind me how often I’m ignoring the plan I’ve set out for myself!

Here are a few thoughts on how I think a book plan should go:

Step No. 1 – If you have just finished your book – Congrats! Half the work is finished. Now you need to revise, rewrite and find a critique partner to give you critical feedback so you can revise and rewrite again.

Step No. 2 – Research agents and publishers. If you didn’t have a clue as to where your book was targeted when you first wrote it, now is the time to really sit and think about it. As far as agents are concerned, I love using the Association of Authors’ Representatives website. It will give details on which agents are looking for what, and how to submit.


Many publishers do not accept unsolicited works, but you won’t know this until you research their websites and find out the criteria. Take the time to figure this out and then make a list of where you want your work to go.

Step No. 3 – Put together a simple spreadsheet with the name of your book, where you are sending it, the date it was sent and if you received a confirmation email or not.

Step No. 4 – Give yourself a deadline. By _____ date, I will have submitted to 6 agents. Then give yourself another deadline and another after that. Hold yourself accountable for meeting these deadlines.

Step No. 5 – Write that beautiful synopsis, polish your first three chaps and get that baby out the door. No excuses, no whining – out the door.

Not too long ago at a local RWA chapter meeting, an astonishing statistic was given:

Only 25% of writers who start a novel finish it. Only 25% of those writers actually submit.

Step No. 6 – While waiting to hear back from agents and publishers, start your next book. You want to have something more to offer them, don’t you? Yes!!

Like I said, those are just a few of my thoughts on how to put together a book plan.

If any of you have additional thoughts on book planning – please share!

Good luck All!



  1. great plan, I would add a query letter in their too.

  2. Ahh... good catch Joanna! You have to have a killer query to send with that synopsis and partial.

  3. Great post Mel! I admit that I scrolled to the bottom right away to make sure "Start writing a new one!" was the last step, and you didn't disappoint.

  4. Thanks Christine! I'm glad I didn't dissapoint you.

  5. Great post - and plan - Melinda. I need to stick to one instead of just use it as artwork on the wall, too. ;-)

  6. Thanks for stopping by L.C. - I should have put be FLEXIBLE as one of the steps too. Sometimes life just gets in the way and the plan has to be reworked. Several times.

  7. My book plan has two steps. 1) get a crazy cp, 2) accept a ridiculous challenge
    ok, maybe it has three steps. 3) send in one chapter of a totally unthought out, non existent book, to an editor a light year away-- and wow them! (and then write the darn book! so, I guess that is really 4 steps?)

    Great book plan really. I never even thought of that when I first started sending in mss. It prolly would have made the whole experience easier and smoother. Thanks for this! It's why you are our leader!

  8. Lisa - you make me giggle! Am I a crazy CP - yes, y'alls leader - heck no. Too much responsibility!

  9. Great post Mel! And yes you'd be the crazy CP Lisa mentions, but we love ya.

  10. Awww thanks Ally - it's nice to be adored for being crazy!!