dance-stepsWould you attempt to run a race or dance on only one leg? Not likely. But I’ve been guilty of trying to pursue my goals in an equally unbalanced approach.

At the ACFW Conference just over a week ago, I heard one speaker describe the two “legs” of writing for publication and it was one of those “Aha!” moments where all the niggling thoughts flirting around the edges of my brain gelled into a clear strategy for moving forward. What are those two legs? Production and Promotion.

On the one side, I must have stories ready to sell and that means hours in front of my computer brainstorming, writing, editing, pitching ideas, and submitting them to industry professionals. That means I can’t get stuck revising the same story over and over but must move on to the next project. That means building up a word count consistently and following up on queries and requests.

On the other side, I need to build a platform for discoverability so potential readers know I exist … and that I have something for sale. That means I need to maintain a social media presence to attract new fans, build relationships, get potential readers to sign up for my newsletter, and then maintain meaningful contact until I have important news to share.

Both are equally important in today’s publishing environment and I need a plan that develops both without neglecting either. (And within each area is another two-step dance between learning and applying information. Some get stuck reading books about how to write but never get much written while others waste hours on social media without an informed strategy.)

So, what does my professional two-step look like now?

  • Marketing Mondays – one hour devoted to listening to a lesson about platform from Michael Hyatt’s Platform University followed by a couple hours pre-loading blog posts or social media updates for the week(s) ahead.
  • Daily check-ins with social media outlets for additional retweets, pins, and interaction with others through likes, comments, and plus-1’s.
  • When needed, revamp my email list incentive, write newsletters, and eventually (hopefully) develop marketing plans around a new release.
  • Craft development – one hour devoted to listening (or participating in) the My Book Therapy weekly Peptalk and a couple hours reviewing conference notes/audio, reading online lessons, or digesting another chapter or two from the next writing craft book on my pile.
  • Daily, measurable progress on the next story whether that means brainstorming plot points, at least 500 new words per day (I do have a day job), sending chapters to my critique partner, or revising a certain number of pages.
  • When needed, query/pitch/submit to editors and agents and respond to various stages of the process like proposals, contracts, revision letters, galleys, etc.

As in dancing (or running), the weight shifts from one leg to the other, but both get equal attention as I balance learning and applying as well as production and promotion. I know that during certain seasons, one will take precedence (like during a book release!), but those should soon fall back into a rhythm. Yet, within the bigger picture of my life, there should also a dance between my faith, family, and fiction.

What about you? What dream are you pursuing? Do you have a balanced approach or do you tend to focus on one thing while neglecting another? Are you more of a learner or a doer?



The Professional Two-Step
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