Step One to plot a publishing plan — any plan for that matter — is organization. Start with the manuscript you plan to publish. Whether going the traditional route or indie, you’re well served with a clean, well-edited manuscript. I learned that very soon after I independently published my first novel. Shoddy editing interferes with the reader’s ability to fully sink into your story dream. Every misspelling and awkward sentence structure is a reminder they’re reading a story. Give your story the gift of a thorough line and copy edit. Let the grammar, sequencing, plot, character development, etc. fade away. Ensure your reader an enjoyable reading experience.
Now organize the steps in your publishing plan. I use a Plot Planner. It’s the same visual chart of success I recommend writers use to plot their story characters’ goals and development. I recommend using a plot planner for any goal you’re serious about achieving. For the next several months, the goal for plot a publishing plan is to move from a edited manuscript to a published novel or memoir. We’ll use the Plot Planner to plot all the steps in-between.
With this method you’re able to stand back, see where you are on your path to publishing and anticipate what’s coming. Your way becomes visible, and manageable. Gain insight where your energy will wax and reasons it might wane during your plan. Anticipate awaiting trials and tests. Prevent or quickly remedy the complete chaos always apt to hit. Your cover artist disappears. Your editor bails on you. You use the money you set aside for publishing to pay your rent. Predict when and where you’re likely to meet adversity — inner or outer or both. Accomplish one task after another, the plan always works. Advance planning ensures you’ll see your goal to a triumphant end.
Step one to plot a publishing plan: Set up a Plot Planner. For now, simply decide when you plan to begin — though by putting up the banner paper line you’ve already begun. Write today’s date at the top left of your planner. Decide when you plan to hold your novel in your hands. Write that date at the top right of your planner. I’m giving myself four months.
Next divide the line into four equal parts. These parts represent the beginning, the light middle, the dark middle, and the ending steps of your plan. There are two middle sections because the heart of any project entails twice the effort as beginnings and endings do. Divide by four the total number of days you’ve given yourself to publish your novel. Indicate at the bottom of each of the four sections the specific time frame each section represents. Each section on my Plot Planner represents one month.
You Will be Challenged
Now stand back and study at your Plot Planner. Track where the weeks or months of your plan fall in relationship to the line of energy. Observe where the energy rises and where it is likely to fall and then rush to a conclusion. You’ll notice the deeper you travel into your plan, the more intense the energy. I don’t tell you this to scare you. I tell you so you won’t be surprised when you’re faced with challenges. Because you will be challenged. But for now… it’s all about organization.