Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Having a Plan B

Here's a little tip I have gleaned from my 13 years in the authoring business: always have a Plan B.

I think many people, on putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) know that they are writing the next masterpiece, a sure-fire hit to rival Harry Potter or Twilight or (shudder) Fifty Shades of Badly Written Porn. They will send it to an agent who will wax lyrical about it, a bidding war between the top three publishers will ensue ending in a six-figure advance and negotiations by several major studios for the film rights. With the royalties they will buy houses for all their friends, and they will bask in the glory at book signings (the queue will go round the block) and TV interviews. But first they have to finish Chapter 1.

Unfortunately it seems that it doesn't always work like that and the disappointment when the agents and publishers send you rejection slips rather than beating a path to your door can be crushing. I've found that if you're going to avoid becoming despondent and disillusioned in this business you can't pin all your hopes on one dream. Or one book.

Here's an example. I recently published a unique book highlighting the heartache which accompanies religious intolerance. My co-author and I were convinced The Saved Saint would be one of those books people talked about and recommended to all their friends but so far this hasn't happened. Given the effort we put into it, that could be disappointing. But I have other irons in the fire.

I have a YA fantasy/Sci-fi novel currently under consideration by Harper Voyager. That's Plan B. If they reject it I have found a really exciting new publisher I want to submit it to. That's Plan C. And if they reject it too, I'll self-publish it (but that's Plan Z because I don't like self-publishing).

Plan D involves my collection of short stories–to include my top-secret project–which I'm currently working on and very excited about. And Plan E is for the republication of the first two books in the Haven series and the publication of the third and final Haven book, probably towards the end of this year.

Add to those three other books that I have under way (all over 10,000 words long so far) and you'll see that I'm more likely to succeed by writing lots of books which sell just a few hundred copies than one book which sells a million.

While any one of these books could be my magnum opus, the work which is lauded and loved and pays off the mortgage, I'm not stupid enough (any more) to pin all my hopes on one book. It's great to have a dream, but it's always good to have a backup dream in case the first dream doesn't pan out.


  1. One of the things I learned in a writing workshop last year was once you get your manuscript off to an editor or agent, don’t just sit around twiddling your thumbs waiting for a reply. DO something! Write for magazines, start on something new- don’t just sit there!

    Thanks for the great reminder! :-)

  2. So true Anna! I need to get started on plan C, D,E, etc!!



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