Prepare Yourself for Success

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re dreaming of getting that first book deal. But what are you doing to prepare for the reality of being a contracted author?

When you sign with a publisher, you’ll have new demands on your time. The publisher will act like they own you and every minute of your day. They’ll assume you have nothing else to do except respond to their demands requests. Are you prepared for this?

Every publisher is different, but here are some things you might expect: If you sold the book based on a proposal, obviously you have to start writing your book. And now you have a deadline. Either way, you’ll go through an editorial process. You will get your manuscript back with editorial notes and you’ll have a limited time to rewrite, edit and get it back to them. On deadline. You may be asked to fill out multi-page questionnaires about your book to help the sales/marketing folks figure out how to design the cover and create marketing copy. You may be asked to submit alternate titles. You may be asked to provide sample images that you feel capture your book. At some point, either your agent or your editor will be hounding you about your NEXT book. Once your book is published, you’ll be spending significant time on marketing and promotional activities. Through all of this, there will be countless emails to and from your publisher.

There might be more, but the point is, you’ll be expected to keep up with the pace! Once you have multiple books out, you’ll constantly be in various stages of various books. You might be marketing the one that just came out, while simultaneously trying to finish the manuscript of the next one, and brainstorming ideas for the one after that.

So, how can you prepare for this?

Think about your schedule. Will you be working a day job? Plan on spending many nights and weekends working on whatever your publisher needs. Are you the primary caregiver for your children? Expect that you’ll need childcare help sometimes. Do you participate in several church or social activities (Bible study, weekly golf date, book club, whatever)? Understand you may need to curtail them for a season… or permanently.

Make sure you’re well-organized. Do you have a workable file system? Do you have a good calendar and the ability to keep track of important dates? Do you have a desk or other area that is “just yours” and allows you to work comfortably? Do you have reliable high-speed Internet and up-to-date software? Do you have a good backup system for your computer – preferably two separate backups? (I use both an external hard drive and an online remote backup.)

Consider household help. Decide whether you’ll be able to keep up with your usual housecleaning, meal preparation, or lawn mowing responsibilities for your family if you suddenly become busier. Look into local housecleaning or gardening services; investigate Schwann’s and other meal-prep options. You can do this far in advance of even getting a contract, just to be prepared. Plan how you’ll handle crunch times, i.e. the week before a deadline.

Time your vacations right. Sometimes it’s hard to do this, especially when publishing schedules change. But as much as you’re able, pay attention to the release date of your book as well as any deadlines, and don’t plan a long vacation around that time. If you’re still in the “hoping for a contract” stage, you obviously can’t do anything about this yet, but be aware of it for the future.

Educate your family. You’re going to need their cooperation in this new venture. At the least, they’ll need to understand that you won’t always be available at their beck and call; but more than that, you’ll probably need them to step up to the plate and handle some extra household responsibilities. Letting them know about this long before it actually happens can smooth the road.

Most of all, be mentally prepared for a big change in your life once you get that contract. Signing on the dotted line is only the beginning!

Q4U: What have you done to prepare yourself for success?
Rachelle Gardner, Christian literary agent, WordServe Literary Group, Colorado.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  2. june on November 2, 2009 at 9:50 PM

    >I'm working on my first novel and I have papers everywhere! This may not be such a big problem now, but if I'm ever in the position of having a contract for a book or two, the thought of this disarray multiplying gave me real food for thought. I've really got to develop a system. Thanks for the reality check!

  3. Nancy Coffelt on March 9, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    >Learn to live with frozen pizza several nights a week- and learn to live with the extra 5 pounds attached to the hips from said frozen pizza.

    Learn to accept mismatched socks, dandelions in the yard, and bags under your eyes.

    Learn to appreciate unmade beds, multiple pairs of reading glasses, and voice mail.

    And learn to absolutely love the adrenaline rush of deadlines, the terror of public speaking, and the glow of satisfaction that you’ve walked through fire and you’re only slightly singed.

  4. Prairie Chicks Write Romance on March 8, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    >Good post, Rachelle.

    So far, this is what I’ve done to prepare:

    1. My kids are aged 10 and up. They all do their own laundry and make their own lunches. They all have certain areas of the house they are required to clean each Sat and that means dusting and vacuuming as well. They all cook and bake. The oldest supervises the 10 yo in the kitchen.

    2. I’ve researched diff calendars until I found one I can color-code. I’m currently using it for contests and submissions and at a glance I can tell what is due when.

    3. I’ve invested in a good laser printer to make hard copies both for proofing and for submitting. (Because I live an hour from the city, I can’t zip in for photocopy services whenever I like.)

    4. I have my own blog and a group blog (and Facebook) which can be used for promotion purposes. I’m in charge of booking guests for the group blog and through it am learning how to use this venue for getting word about my books out.

    5. I have extra flash drives set us so I can’t lose my ms’s.

    6. I’m working on a system for easy identification on my laptop and flashdrives that will differentiate between the ms’s and which are on line edits, proofing, etc.

    Hmmm can’t think of anything else but I’m sure I’ll come up with something as I need it… 🙂

    BTW – I’m actually March’s Member of the Month over at eHarlequin and of the 5000 members, it seems everyone knows me and is asking when my book will be pubbed. 🙂

  5. matthewdryden on March 8, 2009 at 2:53 PM

    >This scares me because I have people who rely on me to continue making money and put food on the table. What you describe sounds like a leap of faith for very little give back until the book starts selling.

    That’s a scary, scary thought.

  6. Sharon A. Lavy on March 7, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    >Thought for the day. What chore do you hate? What chore do you enjoy? Trade with a friend who enjoys the chore you hate.

    You like to cook? She likes to clean? (Yes some women have this genetic flaw of compulsive cleaning~ go find one and make a life long friend)

  7. Gabrielle Faust on March 6, 2009 at 9:51 PM

    >Wonderful post! Now, where can I find some of that “household help” but for free! 😉

  8. Eva Ulian on March 6, 2009 at 7:26 PM

    >Hi Rachelle, Roll on the day when I can get someone to scrub my floors and empty the cat litter!

  9. Anne L.B. on March 6, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    >Rachelle, Q4U. Are there writers who don’t successfully make the transition? Do they (or their agents, editors) decide not to go for round two? Or does something else give? Just curious.

    I had expected there would be some extra demands when published. The list is a bit daunting when closely examined. Good info to think on. It seems most important that a spouse is on board with all this–ahead of time.

  10. Marie Force on March 6, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    >This is a great post! It perfectly describes a lot of what’s happened to me over the last year or two as I juggled a full time job, a family and a writing career that now includes promotion and deadlines. The one thing I’d add to your list is to learn to say no. For instance, I only do things in my kids’ schools now that directly involve them. I’ve had to realize I can’t do it all, and the two jobs have to be the priority (after the family, of course). I’ve also cut way back on social obligations because I just can’t handle having too many commitments. It’s all a trade off, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s truly been a dream come true to become a published author (Line of Scrimmage, Sept. 08, Love at First Flight, July 09)

  11. Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter on March 5, 2009 at 2:11 PM

    >This is a great post. I call this “spinning plates”. Remember those people you’d see who have a series of plates on a stick. No sooner do you get these two on the left going that the one on the right starts to wobble.

    I don’t have the all important book contract yet but what I DO have is a growing writing, speaking and teaching calendar. Many of the things in this post I had already thought of, some I hadn’t.

    One thing we’ve instituted is that Thursday evenings are FAMILY TIME! It is easy to get so obsessed with OUR needs, OUR publisher’s needs, OUR agent’s needs, and OUR client’s needs that we forget our family.

    Alternately, if we don’t take time for family we’ll “realize the importance of our family” just when we sit down to work on edits. We need to have balance as writers and that starts while we’re still submitting.

    Thanks so much for this post. I’m going to link to it!!

    Tiffany Colter

  12. Tracey Solomon on March 5, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    >Exciting– for me this is a confirmation of what’s been happening in my life. USUALLY I’m doing all the wrong things.. but right now? Many of the things on this list are truths in my life.

    I feel like seeds are finally sprouting, things are being published…I am excited to see what happens next.

    I’d add building social networks and taking public speaking opportunities as they come to the list. Once I land a book contract- I want to be ready to market, so Ive also been working on this aspect.

  13. lisaalbert on March 5, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    >Oh this is another great post! One thing that helped me was to let friends and family know that my writing hours were just as much of a job as their office hours and I wouldn’t take calls unless it was an emergency. I also learned to say no to invitations and trained others to respect my deadlines and goals.

    When on deadline, I asked my 2 kids and hubby to take one night each to make, serve and clean up dinner. Teen 1 made pancakes, teen 2 made deluxe sandwiches and hubby ordered in. LOL

  14. christa on March 4, 2009 at 11:36 PM

    >It’s the problem I dreamed about!

    I’ll have to send more later…it’s exam week, and I’m treading through two more stacks of essays.

    Speaking of preparing…

  15. Jessica on March 4, 2009 at 10:28 PM

    >Hmm, I’ve tried to prepare myself by being disciplined and writing every day (or revising, editing, etc.) but I think if I sold I’d have to actually ask my hubby to watch the kids once in awhile. LOL It’s exciting to think about! Does anyone else daydream about being under a deadline? LOL

  16. Litgirl01 on March 4, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    >I just stumbled upon this blog. Great post…I’ll be checking back for more great info. 🙂

  17. Krista Phillips on March 4, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    >Timothy, I like the goat idea!

    My maid service is called ‘husband and kids’.

    Okay, so my house won’t be spotless, but I believe in the whole ‘you live here and make the mess, you can live here and clean it up’ theory.

  18. Nerd Goddess on March 4, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    >Wow! I’d never really thought of any of that.

    Right now I’m trying to prepare myself for deadlines. I realized I can’t motivate myself to write if I don’t have them, so I’ve set up several short and long term goals that will hopefully lead to an edited, submittable manuscript in a year.

    But as for those other things… wow… did not consider those.

  19. Timothy Fish on March 4, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    >In preparation for success, I’ve hired a squad of cheerleaders and a marching band. I’ve also ordered a bolt of sackcloth and I’m storing the ashes from my fireplace. I wouldn’t want anyone to say I think to highly of myself. I like to be ahead of the curve. It is my practice to insert mistakes and problem areas into my manuscripts, so the revisions will be done before some editor decides to suggest changes. I have the book 101 Ways to Say You’re An Idiot and Don’t Know What You’re Talking About on order. I’ve begun the process of replacing all of the sheetrock in my house with stainless steel panels. If the house gets dirty, I just spray it down with the garden hose. It seems to work well, but the goat I bought to take care of the yard keeps chewing through the hose. I’ve written an obituary and sent it to the newspaper, so anyone who might be tempted to call me will think I’m dead. I’m hoping that will help with book sales too.

  20. Tricia Leigh Wood on March 4, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    >I am patiently awaiting the day when I have all these demands on my time.

    I have already set up a website, my space, blog, facebook and twitter. I started with one follower and now have six and up to sixty on twitter. It is slowly growing. Little by little.
    So I am already working on networking and marketing.

    I have an office in the basement all to myself. I have a backup system but probably need to do something on line.

    I’m a note goal oriented junkie. They are all over my office and computer.

    I have three completed novels in desperate need of revisions and I am well underway on the 4th.

    Now, I just need the contract.

  21. Rachelle on March 4, 2009 at 1:55 PM

    Remember that if/when you get a book contract, you’re no longer the typical SAHM. You’ll be a WORKING mom. And it’s the rare working mom that doesn’t consider outside help of some kind, even if it’s temporary and seasonal according to need. I understand the perception of “failure” in your role as wife and mom, but you’ll need to consider how much you’re buying into the myth that we women can “do it all.”

    I’m a mom and I work full-time. I have very little “outside” help. Like you, I prefer being pretty self-sufficient and saving my money for things that are more needed. However, there have been many seasons in my working-mom life when I’ve relied heavily on maid service, Schwann’s, etc. The important thing is to know your options and be prepared to call for help when you need it. (We don’t want to get too wrapped up in the pride of being a perfect homemaker either, right?)

  22. Tanya Dennis on March 4, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    >Great thought-provoking post.

    To answer your Q4U, I’ve definitely considered schedule. I’m a sahm with two preschoolers. This year I’ve put off a lot of writing and submitting in order to relish this last year I have with them before they go to school. I want to jump on these writing opportunities, but at the same time, I know I’ll be more able to tackle them come fall when my schedule regulates. I’ll then have regular hours to myself in a quiet house, something I never have now.

    I’ve also worked on organization by creating and keeping a spreadsheets of tasks, chapters, wordcounts, submissions, income and expenses. I don’t use them too much now, but the time when come. When it does, I’ll be ready.

    I have to admit the outside help suggestion is difficult for me. I possess a subconcious conviction that outside household help spells failure on my part as a wife and mother. I know it’s not true! But it’s still difficult for me to overcome.

  23. Melinda Walker on March 4, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    >I’ve been almost rabid about a daily word count as I write my second project. I’ve noticed from several blogs the difficulty some authors have writing their second novel on a deadline. Since I could wish I had one of those deadlines, I decided to act as if I did.

    Among many things I do to free time to write and hopefully manage a career one day, last summer I started my three teens doing their own laundry. It’s taken a while for them to adjust (as seems to be the case with every new responsibility that comes with maturity), so I’m glad I did it when I did. I’ve had 28 days of dinner menus that I rotate each month for years. I know it might seem like obsessive behavior to some, but it streamlines meal prep and shopping and allows others to easily cook, if I need them to.

    Over the years, I found that many folks would love to have me run their errands, help with home tasks, listen to their troubles on an ongoing basis, etc. And of course, there are always needs at church & school. If I hope to accomplish my responsibilities and make a whole-hearted attempt at a writing career, I have to selective in what I take on. My solution is to participate in a small way in a ministry at church and school. For the most part, among acquaintances and extended family, I evaluate how I participate in other people’s lives by their involvement in my life. Not to say I would refuse to meet a genuine need. But many will take advantage of us if we don’t set limits.

  24. Terry Brennan on March 4, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    >Be careful you don’t get too far ahead of the game.

    I signed my first contract seven months ago. Release was scheduled for April. Everything was flying along; I was working with Marketing on strategies.

    Then an outside editor had serious reservations about the book and everything stopped.

    The result was a month-long process … since I’m out of work that meant every day except Sunday … of edits, major revisions, chunks of the book disappearing and serious questons about character development and motivation.

    I got it done two weeks ahead of deadline, my editor is happy, the publisher is happy. I’m still a bit shell-shocked. But it’s a better book.

    One thing people won’t tell you about post-signing syndrome. Watch out for pride. I thought I was hot stuff. Then I got fried in my own pride. Ouch. Humility goes before honor.

  25. carla stewart on March 4, 2009 at 1:08 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,
    What a timely post for me. I signed my first contract THIS WEEK! Two books. Luckily, the first book was ready to deliver on signing, and I’m looking forward to the edits, book cover ideas, etc. Marketing? Not so much.
    After a flurry of emails and FaceBook congrats, it hit me. I already have marketing opportunities by connecting with each and every person who contacted me. The personal responses took some time, but I hope I’ve gained a few people who will become my readers.
    I’ll be pondering some of your other suggestions. Great ideas.

  26. T. Anne on March 4, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    >Thank you for the wonderful insight! Writing is beyond a passion for me. I would embrace the deadlines as a part of the fulfillment of my hearts desire. Looking forward to every bit of it!

  27. lynnrush on March 4, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    >Great post! Nice in-depth look at the process.

    My sweet hubby and I’ve talked about the possiblities before. So, if it happens, we’ll take it in stride. He’s so supportive.

    We don’t kids, so it allows much more free time to work (and play).

    I guess I’ll just have to start my 70 mile bike rides before dawn so I can get back and spend the days doing what’s needed …. **smile**

    Thanks for the post. I’ve enjoyed reading the responses so far too!

  28. Rachel Dawn Allen on March 4, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    I think with any job, at least one you want, it’s hard to look past the glamour and see the “real work.” That is until you’re in it up to your elbows.

    On one hand, deadlines often improve my writing because I’m giving it my very best from day one. On the other, lack of time constraints allow my stories to unfold organically.

    I suppose discipline is what it comes down to, no matter what angle one takes.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  29. Anonymous on March 4, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    >My calendar is clear and I’m ready for success! LOL Seriously, it does seem like all or nothing. When I worked as a freelance journalist, I’d either have 3 o 4 assignments at once, or none.

    I like the advice about enjoying this time before publication…Thanks for such a positive post! We all needed that dash of reality with our dreams.

  30. Eric San Juan on March 4, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    >Fantastic advice. Having just gone through a lot of this (and written about the experience on my own blog), I can not only relate, I’m compelled to ask why more people don’t make clear how much work comes AFTER you’ve gotten a contract.

    For me, deadlines are not a hindrance, they are a help. I NEED that deadline looming over me, lest I get sidetracked on other projects.

    You know, projects like deciding that RIGHT NOW is the perfect time to clean out the attic.

    Procrastination is my bane. I will invent any reason to NOT work. So deadlines? They are a blessing.

    What I do is not only set artificial deadlines for myself, but try to arrange things so that other people are relying on me. If I know others want or need me to keep working, I’ll *keep working*. That helps keep me focused.

  31. Megan DiMaria on March 4, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    >Spot on, Rachelle! Been there, done that.

    I wrote my 1st novel while working full time, which meant that I wrote nights and weekends and would only occasionally be able to enjoy hanging out with my family. It was a sacrifice. I wrote my 2nd novel while working part-time and that was much easier.

    In addition to educating your family, you also need to educate friends. It was rough going for me with some long-time friends who couldn’t understand why my time was not my own. Especially since I only worked part-time.

    Life changes when you get that contract. Fortunately I loved the changes despite the hectic lifestyle it created. I think the bottom line is that even if your prayers are answered and your publishing dream comes true, it’s still w-o-r-k!

  32. Sheryl Tuttle on March 4, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    >I have to say, you have one of the best blogs out there to prepare and educate writers on the whole process. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom with us newbies! I’m still in the throes of writing a novel, so haven’t done anything yet to prepare for that extra work publication brings about, but I so look forward to it!

  33. Dara on March 4, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    >This entry makes me pumped! I’m so ready for something like this rather than being a secretary in real estate (yawn).

    I will have to become more organized; that’s an issue with me. I don’t have children yet, but I have a great support system of family members, like my husband and most of his family (mother and father-in-law, grandparents, some aunts and uncles and cousins).

    It would definitely be a change but a change I’m excited to embrace someday!

    Thanks for the post!

  34. David A. Todd on March 4, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    >Note to self: Print and file under “If The Dream Doesn’t Die First”.

  35. Anonymous on March 4, 2009 at 10:16 AM

    >Wow–thank you for this post! Getting a glimpse of the other side of this process definitely gives perspective on what–hopefully–is ahead one day!

    I started reading your blog a few weeks ago and already have learned so much. Thank you for this service you provide… I really think it is beyond value!

  36. Marla Taviano on March 4, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    >I got my first book published in 2006 and my fourth this past January. Working on two more right now.

    I have 3 girls (8, 6, and 3). I stay home with them. My husband works from home too. We’re coming off of 10 days of illness.

    I am drowning.

    Trying to get our tax stuff in order, trying to pay our bills, trying to promote my latest book, trying to keep my 3rd book from going out of print like my first one did, trying to get a proposal ready for the next one.

    I love my life, and I’m blessed beyond balderdash, but my goodness, I AM NOT VERY GOOD AT THIS.

    In 5th grade P.E., we did a unit on juggling. I was the only one in the class who didn’t get past scarves. Apparently it was a metaphor for things to come.

  37. Karen Witemeyer on March 4, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    >Having signed my first contract only a couple weeks ago, I am at the very beginning of this new reality. The biggest adjustment so far has been the deadline. Before my editor took my proposal to committee, she asked me when I thought I could have the manuscript finished. I said August. She said, “Can you make it May?” I wasn’t about to say no. I did caution her that I would need until the very end of May, and thanks to Rachelle’s negotiation, we have a deadline of June 1st.

    But that meant an immediate change to my usual writing pace. The first thing I did was pull out a calendar, estimate how many chapters I would need to complete the manuscript (padding it a bit to give myself wiggle room), and creating a new schedule. Instead of writing one polished chapter a week, I now needed to write one and a half. That propbably doesn’t sound like much, but for a mom with three elementary-age kids, a full-time job, and a husband who likes to see her every now and again, an extra 4-6 pages a week can be quite a lot.

    So far I’ve kept to the schedule, and I plan to continue to inforce these mini deadlines until I turn in the finished book. For me, it is much less stressful to have small, manageable things to accomplish than one large daunting task. My goal is to have the manuscript done a week or two early. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  38. L.C. Gant on March 4, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    >Thanks so much for the wonderful advice! I’m putting a link to this post on my blog today. This is great information for every writer to have, regardless of where they are in the publication process.

    I’m still at the dreaming stage right now, but I always like to be prepared. I know I’ll be referring to this post a lot in the months to come. Thanks again!

  39. Pam Halter on March 4, 2009 at 9:41 AM

    >I’ve started preparing by working on creating a writing space all my own, away from the family computer which is in the diningroom.

    I babysit my granddaughter two days a week and am expecting a grandson in April. But I’m already thinking I may have to scale back there when I get a contract and have deadlines.

    I also lead Pioneer Club at church and am planning to make this my last year doing that. Then, when I take my daughter to Youth Group, I’ll have a couple of hours of writing time while I sit in the church office and wait for her.

    Two friends and I have writing weekends a couple times a year where we stay in a condo and write/plot/brainstorm for three days. It’s amazing how much you can get done that way.

    It changes your life more than you think. I’m watching my best friend go through it all now. Her first novel is coming out in October and she’s done the edits, but is working on her second novel as well as marketing the first one and working an almost full-time job at the public school. It’s been a learning experience for me.

    We all need to really take a hard look at what Rachelle said and get ready.

  40. Deborah Vogts on March 4, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    This is a good post, and I can highly relate. All of the advice you’ve given is great, but there’s something that happens to a writer when you receive that green light. Like with me . . .

    When I received my three book contract from Zondervan, I thought I was prepared, ready and waiting for the day! LOL. My first book was completed, and my second was a good 1/3 along in the writing stage.

    Then it hit me! I was going to be a published writer! Oh my! I needed to plan my marketing strategy! I needed to create a Web site, update my blog, get a professional photo taken! Edits! Dream about book signings!!! ROFLOL.

    And then something horrible happened. My writing life froze. But I was okay–I had plenty of time. And now I’m struggling to meet extended deadlines.

    So, I think the best advice I can give to those still waiting for that contract is to keep writing, and enjoy the process while you don’t have pressure. Then when you are contracted, forget everything else until the writing’s done. Concentrate on writing the best possible book you can–there’s plenty of time for everything else. I’m having to learn the hard way. Blessings to you, Deborah V

  41. Sharon A. Lavy on March 4, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    >When you start getting requests for your first chapters the family seems to tolerate more of your dedication to writing and re-writing.

  42. Amethyst Greye Alexander on March 4, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    >Miss Rachelle,

    I’ve taken several things you mention into consideration during my daydreaming. My husband, who is a firefighter like yours so you probably understand 24/48 shifts, and I have talked about the amount of time being a professional writer would eat up. I’ve spent quite a while as a virtual single mother while my husband goes through training for his job, and I think we both see my writing as ‘my turn’ to pursue my calling. That’s one seriously awesome thing about our marriage; we truly want that for one another.

    So, I guess the short answer is, I’m plotting my planning. *grin*

    Thank you for a post that lets us wool-gather a little.


  43. Robbie Iobst on March 4, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    I learn so much from your blog and I am amazed at the list. Since I’m in the dream stage, your reality check is a bit jarring. Not that I’m not willing to jump in, I am, but wow. It is daunting. Thank you for your blog!

    PS. Katy, you crack me up!

  44. Sharon A. Lavy on March 4, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    >Casey get that back up plan NOW. Do not wait another second.

  45. casey on March 4, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    >After two years writing articles, attending workshops, and refining my craft, I’m finally at the point where this is relevant. Recent additions to my “writing cave” include a deadline calendar and color-coded filing system. I have a wonderful encouragement partner who holds me accountable to write every day. (I do the same for her.)

    The next step I need to take is a good electronic back-up system. I crashed TWO computers in January. Fortunately I was able to reconstruct my projects. I suppose you can’t have too many recovery systems.

  46. Krista Phillips on March 4, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    >My heart literally started beating faster as I read your post (in excitement, not dread.)

    I am a weird duck as I LOVE challenges, I LOVE deadlines (they are a challenge…) and I LOVE multi-tasking. I’d pull my hair out if I were bored. And really, I love the business side of things too. As much as I love writing, and I DO, part of me wondered how, when the time comes, I’d handle leaving the business world (which I fully understand might be a while after, if God wills it, I’m published). But this vision of ‘what the life will look like’ seriously made me giddy in…anticipation??

    My only worry is the whole ‘working full time at a demanding job’ while working on published at the same time. I’m envisioning it feeling like I’m working two full time jobs, which will be tough while still making sure my family gets the attention they deserve.

    So… what am I doing to prepare? The biggest thing is that I’m putting self-inflicted, tough deadlines on myself. Even though I’m working full time and am UNpublished/contracted, I’m using this time as practice by writing at the pace I will want to if God does allow me to get that elusive contract. My goals/deadlines for this year are to finish two full-length manuscripts, shop and final edit the one I have, and get a good plan ready for the next series, which is already a whisper in my imagination.

  47. Jen and Kev on March 4, 2009 at 8:51 AM

    Wow. Thanks for the eye opener! It reminds me of when we were expecting our first child and everyone said, “It’s going to change your lives forever,” but no one offered to suggest any plans for the changes…
    I appreicate you taking the time to clue us in on the reality of life as a writer.
    I would say, “you are wonderful!” but you may think I’m kissing up. Oh, what the heck,
    — Jen

  48. Chatty Kelly on March 4, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    >You know, I’ve actually thought about this but not with the word “success.” That seems like such a huge word! But I have considered how I would handle having a writing career (as opposed to a writing hobby).

    My youngest starts kindergarten in the fall, so I will be home ALONE all day M-F…writing time! I’ve been stepping down from my leadership positions in organizations, and will complete my last leadership responsiblities in May. I’m in a cooking co-op 4 days a week, so my cooking time is greatly reduced, and I already have maid service, because my husband loves me. 😉

    So I’m ready! But it’s so ironic, I never considered it as signs of success, only signs of a career versus hobby.

    This post has me really thinking what is “success” for me.

  49. Alps on March 4, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    >I don’t think I’ve come close enough to success to justify preparing for it. Maybe once I get partial or full requests for my ms I’ll start stocking up on frozen food. 🙂

  50. Richard Mabry on March 4, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    All the things you mention, like the heartburn that follows late-night pizza, are the price paid for the initial pleasure of the experience. And most of us aren’t prepared for them. Oh, and I noticed that many of these time-grabbers also involve the author’s agent, so I’m sure this post comes from the heart.

    As for what I’ve done to prepare myself for this ride, I think of two things: I’ve retired from my day job and I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire a great agent.

  51. josephrobertlewis on March 4, 2009 at 7:51 AM

    >To prepare for success, I have decided not to have octuplets any time soon.

  52. Katy McKenna on March 4, 2009 at 7:47 AM

    >PS–The charges for the damages The Moms incur are now being sent to me, so I have already prepared myself for how any generous advances will be spent.

  53. Sharon A. Lavy on March 4, 2009 at 7:46 AM


  54. Katy McKenna on March 4, 2009 at 7:43 AM

    >What I have I done to prepare?

    I’ve put each of the demented Moms (his and mine) in a motorized wheelchair and fastened their hands to the joy sticks. Then I’ve turned them loose to fend for themselves.

    They’ve taken out a few Ching Dynasty vases in the lobbies of their facilities and the maintenance men have to keep replaster the walls daily. But they love their independence and my life is completely contract-ready! 🙂

  55. CJ Raymer on March 4, 2009 at 6:38 AM

    >Fantastic post! Thanks so much, Rachelle.

    I am truly fortunate in that I have very supportive family and friends. My hubby and daughters don’t hesitate to jump in for me when I need to “shut myself away” and work. I think they’ve adopted my dream as their own, and in turn, help me to facilitate it.

    I think juggling “life” is something I’ve grown accustomed to. I don’t always get it right, but, I’ve learned over the years just how important an organized life (home, social, work, family) really is. Staying ahead of the game is key!

  56. RefreshMom on March 4, 2009 at 4:16 AM

    >You are so right! Having been down the road before I know how true it is.

    One of the things I’ve done was actually hold off on submitting things when I encountered a life-situation (like having a baby, moving to a new state) that would make it difficult to do justice to my home life and a publishing life.

    After each child I took a year off from major ministry commitment and publishing pursuits. Same thing when we relocated for a new ministry. It’s meant that I have a long gap in my publishing history (aside from pieces published in compilations and such), but more than anything I didn’t want to become an author who can’t keep commitments–or a wife and mom who can’t keep commitments at home. Hopefully I’m on a path toward balance in both.

    The best thing you offer here Rachelle is straight talk about so many things that most people have to learn the hard way. It’s much appreciated.


  57. JKB on March 4, 2009 at 3:41 AM

    >Rachelle, this is a wonderful post!

  58. Elizabeth Cota on March 4, 2009 at 2:45 AM

    >About the only thing on this list I believe I am actively trying to manage right now is the juggle between current book, editing, and upcoming ideas. The current book gets so many words a day, editing happens in several week intervals a few weeks after the book is done, and the new ideas go into their own folder.

    Thank you for the list, though. It is one thing to make the writing work, it’s another to make life work at the same time.

  59. Kim Kasch on March 4, 2009 at 2:18 AM

    >What a wonderful post. I can only dream…to have these demands, I mean “requests” placed upon me.


    Consider household help, oh my, how I would love to consider this.

    Time my vacations…right.

    Seriously, I love this “power of positive thinking” post 😉

    And, I’ve got my fingers X’d for these big changes in my life.