Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm a pantser...who maybe ought to be a plotter...

I stole this from Hope Clark's Funds For Writers newsletter, this week --

The Importance of Planning in Self-Publishing

By Joel Friedlander

Fiction writers are sometimes divided into “plotters” and “pantsers” depending on how much advance thought they put into the development of their novels.

The “plotters” like to work everything out in advance. They may develop elaborate outlines, timelines, character portraits, diagrams of pivot points in their story, and know, even before they strike the first key, exactly what the story is and how it will develop.

“Pantsers” get their name from “flying by the seat of their pants." These writers might start with an idea, a scrap of conversation, a setting, or some dramatic situation, then sit down and start writing to see where the story goes, what characters show up, and how the whole thing will work out.

What about self-publishers? They can also be divided in terms of how they approach the publication of their books. Consider:


As soon as a planner gets going, they have specific dates for all their events. An author may have booked the blogs on which she’ll be appearing during her book launch several months away. She might locate vendors for the services she’ll need, set up a publishing company, and get all her “ducks in a row.”

Although all this preparation is impressive, planners may be driven by anxiety, remaining keenly aware of all the things that can go wrong, and try to avoid unplanned events disrupting the timeline.

Free Spirits

Free spirits approach publishing with a less structured approach, and are more concerned with the task in front of them, not with future events.

A free spirit author may be so absorbed by finishing his manuscript that he doesn't engage an editor in advance. While working with an editor, he may pay no attention to other tasks, content to wait until the moment when they are needed.

Although it sounds slower, these authors may be more open to serendipitous meetings and spur of the moment inspiration. Although they don't get the benefits of advance planning, they may have more fun in the process.

Questions Arise

Most people think that a book is a simple, commonplace object — words on a page, one page after another until you reach the end. What’s complicated about that?

But then, when you decide to publish yourself, the picture becomes murkier. You begin to realize there are many decisions that go into making a book. The questions start, and never seem to stop:

• Hardcover, paperback, ebook?
• How big a book?
• Where to sell, and for how much?

Then it gets even more confusing:

• What should I do first?
• How long will it take?
• How do I stay on track?

Planning to Succeed

Many authors are also teachers, business people, retirees, consultants, electricians, military, lawyers, doctors, and so on.

They have expertise in their own field, but they don’t know how book publishing works. They have no grasp of the whole book publishing process.

Ideally, you could have an expert sitting next to you as you plan your project to explain all the steps and when to do them. That's a great solution, and some authors end up hiring a book shepherd or publishing consultant.

But only a few do that. Most try to figure it out by reading, talking to friends, and asking questions.

Understanding the sequence of events in publishing a book should be your first task when you decide to self-publish.

So if you're thinking of publishing your own books, educate yourself first. Nothing will repay you as much as getting clear in your mind about how the process of turning a manuscript into a book works in the real world. You'll soon be a publishing "pro" yourself!

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