Bigger, More, and Pwnage

If you’ve been following me as a writer, friend, or general human person, you almost certainly know that I don’t have a whole lot of patience. This is good and bad.

With my kids, I need more patience. I’m working on that.

With my writing career, I have limited patience. Strategic patience. Not as much patience as snooty folks say I need to have. I don’t listen to snooty folks. I hear those stories of how this or that author submitted to sixty or a hundred agents or editors before finally getting the deal of a lifetime. You know, like world-famous Kathryn Stockett.

Kathryn Stockett? You don’t know who she is? She wrote The Help. That book that became a movie where the white girl saved the black people? That’s the one. The Help is her first book and it’s also her only book. And she got way lucky. And you don’t know who she is.

Now, I’m not criticizing her at all. I hear her book is pretty good and I liked the movie. You know what I liked more? The fact that she, as an author, got paid. She worked, wrote a story she loved and believed in, stuck her flag in that story and fought for it. She fought enough for it that she got some luck and traditional publishing paid her then paid her more by marketing her book into bestseller status.

Right. On. Sister.

But that’s not for me. I have a serious dislike for the idea that traditional publishing is the way to go because gatekeepers and whatnot. A pox on that idea. I want to be traditionally published with a big New York house. But I don’t want to be traditionally published because I need the validation that I’m a writer. I want it so I get paid finally.

Yes, finally. I’ve made royalties off my books. But if you factor in all the work I’ve done to write, revise, edit, market, etc my books, I’ve made about one cent per hour. Not exactly minimum wage.

In any case, I have a plan for 2017 and it focuses on what I can control, not luck. I’ll make my luck and I’m not going to be patient about it. I’ll write my books. And hoo boy do I have some books to get done. I’m going to continue to work my butt off so that when Lady Luck tosses me a bone, I am ready to catch it and- here’s the important part- add the bone to the bones I’ve already collected. Waiting on luck to build my writing career would be a fool’s move, but expecting luck while doing my damndest to succeed as a writer– that’s just how the universe works.

Not having patience has served me well. When I was laid off from a middling company in 2014 (you remember that, right?) did you think I would be working as a Senior Instructional Designer at Amazon 1.8 years later? You didn’t? Neither did I. But I decided to take my career seriously, took loads of classes, worked hard to crush my next job and the next one, got totally current with my industry, and spoke with confidence and vision with people who were considering working with me. Amazon called and boom, here I am. Travelling the world teaching people how to train and speak and manage groups and create learner-centric training that blows minds. By the time I’m done here, I will have taught 1000+ people.

So it’s high time I treat my writing career the same freaking way, right? Why? Because this is my first career choice, the thing I want to do. 2017 will be the year of pwnage. I will be everywhere in book and person form. My hand will grow tired of signing an endless stream of books.

Game. On.

Here’s what’s happening for the year 2017. The stuff I can control. Some of these have Craft at the beginning to indicate they are part of me becoming better at my job. All of this is aiming at moving my career forward so that I am doing two things: 1) earning actual money from my writing; 2) approaching the time I can write full time.

  1. Deploy a mailing list that is effortless for my readers/fans to use and simple for me to manage. (by February 1).
  2. Send updates, insider stuff, etc, via my mailing list once a month. (First one done by Feb 28, 11 total done by Dec 31.)
  3. Spend 2+ hours each week on marketing:
    1. Mailing list management
    2. Ad campaigns
    3. Testing keywords
    4. Social media promotions/contests
  4. Write 7000+ words/week.
  5. Complete Usurper, the sequel to Lakhoni, by January 31 and publish this year.
  6. Complete Showdown at Serpent Ridge (by March 31) and use it to query agents.
  7. Query five agents a week, starting April 1 at the latest.
  8. Complete outline and prewriting for my memoir.
  9. Craft: Write a middle grade story by August 31. This might be a bad story. I don’t care. I’m going to try it out.
  10. Transfer all of my websites etc to BlueHost. (by May 1)
  11. Craft: Write 10,000 words on the adult dramatic story I’ve been dying to write for five years. It’s called Void. Terrified by this one. Not sure it’s a story or if I just need to get it out of my system. 10,000 words will tell the tale. (by April 30)
  12. Craft: Write the horror story I’ve been sitting on for a year. It’s a short story, I think. (by July 31)
  13. Craft: Read 30+ books across all genres. My author friends publish enough this won’t be a problem.
  14. Craft: Complete at least one online writing course by December 31, 2016. This might just be me listening to all of the last season of Writing Excuses and doing all the writing prompts.

Pretty sure that covers it. What do you think? Doable? Insane? Not ambitious enough?

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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