Saturday, 7 January 2017

Ducks in a Row: Planning for 2018 and beyond

I woke up early a few days ago, and as I usually do, I squinted at my emails. “Why You Should be Planning for 2018, Not 2017.”  I needed coffee to tackle this one. The first couple of days of 2017, and I'm supposed to be thinking into next year?

Once my brain had woken up, I read Benjamin P. Hardy's blog, and I have to say, from the start, it made sense.
The principle is simple: Don’t just plant a tree, plant an orchard.
The basis is don't just plan for now. Plan for the future. Plan beyond The End. Think of J.K. Rowling, and her series. She knew Harry Potter would live beyond the Philosopher's Stone. She knew there would be at least seven books because of the UK school system. Think about her long-term story arc!

I'll leave you to read the rest of the article, which goes on to discuss choices and expectations. I want to focus on planning a writing career for the next few years.

Do you launch yourself into writing a book without thinking whether it's a one-off or a series? I've been an author for a while now, but in the early stages, I rarely thought of a book as a series. Morning Report was fan-fiction which turned into a book. Eight years on, it's a little universe of its own. Frankie & Al was one book which developed into a series and so was Hairy Harry's Car Seat. I wish I'd got the jump on these books sooner and planned how I wanted them to develop.

Some books are designed to be one-offs. I couldn't write another in the series of Final Admission or The Sky is Dead. Their stories stand on their own. Others have the potential for a larger universe.

At the beginning of 2016, I made a decision to move more into crime/thriller/mysteries. I also decided to tackle M/F romance books. Okay, I'm still dancing around the edges of M/F, but I have enough crime plots to develop in four series for the next three years.

Stick to a schedule is hard. I only know a few authors who manage a gruelling writing schedule which would have me on my knees. I know the second I say 'this is what I'm going to write', my muse starts tra-la-la'ing and disappears on vacation. However I do have plans into 2018 and beyond; self-publishing and submitting to Dreamspinner. I even have a pretty coloured schedule. I don't know whether I'll stick to all of it, but at least, for the next couple of years, I have a goal beyond The End.

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