Sunday, November 10, 2013

I have a cunning plan

Writers talk endlessly about where they stand on the great plotters v. pantsers divide. I decided long ago that I'm neither, or rather, a bit of both. I've also realized that the same schizoid thinking pervades my world beyond the act of writing.

But that does not mean I flit randomly between planning and seat-of-the-pants actions. There is some structure there.

For starters, I tend to work in layers. No matter what the endeavor, I need to see the big picture, at least in outline. I need to see how the detail fits together. From there, how much I plan depends a lot on my level of confidence. The less familiar I am with the terrain, or the bigger the risk of something going horribly wrong, the more painstakingly I plan ahead.

When it comes to the business of publishing, I am on entirely unknown territory and the stakes (in my own mind, anyway) are high. So it's no surprise that I'm planning the heck out of this publishing lark like an assault on the Normandy beachhead.

Start off with lots of research: The legal aspects of running a business (like registration, tax and accounting), publishing and distribution channels, things other than the story itself that go into a book (like internal book design, formatting, cover art, ISBNs, CIP, and LCCN), marketing, website, etc.

From all of this murk an outline plan is emerging, driven largely by what obstacles stand in the way of completing any given task and working backwards from there.

  • Look into publishing/distribution options and decide how I'm actually going to publish this puppy.
  • Determine the formatting requirements for the chosen outlets.
  • Research and choose a book designer.
  • Set up business and tax registration.
This step is the psychological watershed, like Sam leaving the Shire. Everything up to now has just been an investment of my own time, but this where tangible expenses start to kick in. You'll notice that my natural caution in uncharted waters is showing here and I've left this as late as possible.
  • Work with book designer to sort out the required content, including book blurb, author photo, ISBN etc.
  • Create web site.
  • Publish.

Of course, each of these steps has lots more detail beneath it, but I'm happy now that I've planned out the big picture.

Sounds simple, no? What can possibly go wrong...


  1. Sounds terrifying to me. I have enough trouble simply putting a price on a piece of art,much less looking at it in a business sense.
    But obviously you need to take all this into account when publishing a book or else all your profits will disappear into other peoples pockets no doubt

  2. Sounds complicated. Um...have you ever heard of Murphys' Law?

  3. Mynx, unfortunately there's a huge step up in complexity between selling a physical one-off item to distributing copies of said item through a global network of outlets. It is daunting, but it's starting to come together...I hope...

    Delores, that's what's worrying me. Murphy is always lurking around the next corner :)

  4. I tend to write similarly. I let my new book sort of simmer for a few months (usually over the summer). By the time the kids go back to school I have an overall vision, but not a step-by-step outline.

    As for publishing...I'm taking my first foray into big sixness. My agent told me she's ready to start shopping the MS I've edited multiple times for her and I'm REALLY nervous about that and trying to set low expectations to combat my high hopes.

  5. LOL! I guess I missed your announcement. It's been a crazy month or seven while I jump into publishing. I wish I could teleport you here to take the 8 week course we took at the library on publishing. Alas, I had to bust the machine so those darn scientists locked in my basement would stop sneaking out to mess with the time machine. I tell you what, if it isn't one thing, it's another. Don't mess with the fabric of time and space unless you want a mess on your hands. ;)

  6. Johanna, I've decided that life's too short to wait on the whims of the traditional industry, but I wish you all best luck with your next step along the road.

    Crystal, LOL, no announcement as yet. I'm just taking baby steps along the way. The space-time continuum is safe for now :)

  7. You are gonna A-Team the crap out of this plan!!!



  8. I'm watching and waiting to see how things will go for you. I have my book finished (although working on edits), and learning from everyone else's experience(s). I am leaning toward's an independent publisher though... Best wishes!

  9. Valerie, this plan doesn't know what is about to hit it :)

    Danette, one of the reasons I'm posting about this journey is so that others can learn along the way. Good luck with your own efforts.


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