Friday, March 23, 2012

Author Career Planning

Author Career Planning: What, Why and How Much?

The publishing industry has gone through a lot of changes since I first published. My first ebook was published in 1999 (it was on a disk!) and my first print book came out in 2001. I've written for traditional publishers, independent presses and e-publishers around the world and I think the biggest career mistake I made was not having a career plan.

It's difficult to make a career plan when you don't have the all the answers. For example, when will you make that first sale, or the one after that? Who is going to be your publisher? You just don't know. Release dates can be moved forward or pushed back, lines fold, editors leave, or the publisher suddenly stops buying your lighthearted paranormal and now only want dark romantic suspense. What can you do?

Not much. But here are some things you can answer when putting together a career plan:

1. What are you writing?

What emotional experience do you offer to the reader? Do you write sexy? Sweet? Scary? Cozy? Funny? Sad?  Can you deliver this in every story you write? Also, know your core story and the themes that frequently pop up in your work. This is something you can carry over if you change sub-genres or write different story lengths.

2. Why are you writing?

Define your goals and see if they align with your work schedule and your projects. Your goal doesn't have to be the bestseller lists. Do you want to receive special recognition, like a contest win or rise in your publisher's hierarchy? Perhaps your goal is to quit your job so you can write full-time. Start planning now. Find out if you can make enough income each year from writing by reading Sabrina Jeffries' "The Big Misunderstanding about Money" or Brenda Hiatt's "Show me the Money"

3. How much do you want to write?

Decide how many books you can comfortably write in a year and find a publisher that is ideal for your output. Most traditional publishers would like a minimum of one book every 9 - 12 months. Some publishers not only want a trilogy, but they want to publish it in three consecutive months. Harlequin wants at least three books a year from their authors.

If you are very prolific and your publisher only wants one book from you, you're going to be unhappy. Decide if you want to write for more than one publisher and how you can do it. Do you want to self-publish as well? Factor in the time it will take to produce, distribute and promote those titles.

While a writer can't control everything in her career, she can still be the driving force. When making a career plan, ask yourself these questions: What do I want to write? What do I hope to gain from a writing career? How much do I want to write? The answers may surprise you!

Bio: Susanna Carr writes sexy contemporary romance for Harlequin Blaze and Mills & Boon Modern. Visit her website at

Book blurb:

Julie Kent is looking for excitement in her life. She wants to save the world -- and earn a cool nickname while she's at it -- but her crime-fighting career has been more paperwork than perps. And if Eric Ranger has any say in the matter, she won't get out of her cubicle!

Eric is a battle-scarred agent temporarily helping his friend's security business. He wants to protect Julie from the world he knows. She reminds him of what he's been fighting for; he's attracted to Julie, but he won't touch her. He even goes so far as to let her think she isn't sexy enough to be a decoy on their current case.

But Julie turns the tables on Eric by making the first move. Trying out one sexy alias after another, Julie finds trouble wherever she turns. And though Eric is determined to be at her side to protect her, now he just can't keep his hands off her….

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