So your latest work is out — it’s in the hands of a beta reader, an editor, an agent, or a publisher and you are playing the waiting game. As tempting as it is to check your email every 43 seconds, your time will be better spent doing some of the following things.
1. Read a craft book. This can’t be overstated. Even if you feel like you’re an expert, there is plenty to learn. Need help? Here are some suggestions.
2. Join an organization in your genre. Most genres have organizations such as Romance Writers of America, or, American Christian Fiction Writers. If you are a member, you can connect with a local chapter which often provides networking opportunities, instructional events, conferences, classes and other ways to help you grow as a writer.
3. Set up some sort of social media presence. Need help with Twitter specifically? Check out this very affordable book that makes conquering Twitter easy.
4. Build your website. At the very least, you need your name, contact information, a description of what you write and anything else of interest to an industry professional or general reader. This doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to communicate professionalism. Google “how to build a website” and you’ll find tons of affordable opportunities to do this.
5. Google yourself: Industry professionals will definitely google you — you don’t want to be surprised at what they find. If you can do something about the results and make them more flattering, do it. In a related note, consider working under a pseudonym.
6. Rewrite your query letter. Or get a coach to help you. Queries are the initial contact that you make with an industry professional, often an agent or a publisher. There definitely is a right and a wrong way to make this first impression and it’s worth it to polish this as much as possible. Even if you have already written one, it doesn’t hurt to fine tune it as much as possible.
7. Read in your genre. This point can’t be understated. If you want to succeed in a specific genre, make sure that you are well-versed in it. Readers of that genre will have expectations of it and you can’t be marketable if you don’t heed convention.
8. Take a class. It’s likely that your local community college or adult education center has workshops or classes on writing fiction. Invest in yourself and sign up for one. Or, search YouTube for free classes. Then do all the homework!
9. Start your next book. That idea that you’ve been toying with? The one that you think is kind of stupid? Get it out. Start brainstorming. Try the snowflake method with it. Set a timer and work in 10 minute increments.
10. Join 10 Minute Novelists! Click here. If for no other reason we want to cheer you when you get that contract (or give you virtual hugs if you don’t!) Writing is a lonely business and we need each other if we’re going to succeed.
If you’re in this writing business for the long game, then keep going. Don’t stop. Everything you do now will benefit you one way or another.
Now go check your email again, and then set your timer!