Tag Archives: Writing Career Tip

Do Everything Right – A Writer’s Business Plan Step 2 – Orr What? Wednesday

Excellence imageLast week I talked about A Writer’s Business Plan – Step 1. That step was basically this. You have to work your you-know-what off. I told a story of a top achievement moment for me and how I got there. You guessed it. I worked my you-know-what off. That’s a tough standard to maintain but the writing career route isn’t an easy trip.

Step 2 is equally tough and demanding. In order for you to succeed your Writer’s Business Plan must be built around excellence. To be more specific – you have to do every right. I understand nobody can actually do everything right. But you must make Doing Everything Right your goal and come as close as you can to achieving it.

This is most difficult with the challenges that scare us. When I started out as a literary agent the thing that scared me most was lunches with editors. A lot of my work for my clients was done in Manhattan restaurants at a narrow table with an editor from a New York City publishing house. I’d been one of those editors myself for a while but this was completely different.

I remember walking to my first editor lunch date as an agent. I was so frightened I didn’t know how I’d be able to eat because my stomach was in my throat crowded flat up against my heart. I kept telling myself one thing over and over again. “Don’t order anything that will fall off your fork.” No peas. No pasta that requires twirling. Nothing with lots of parts and sloppy sauce.

As it turned out I needed more preparation than that. I made it through the lunch hour mostly because the editor was a gracious soul. She recognized I was floundering and helped me along. “Tell me about some of the writers you represent,” she said. She’d kindly introduced the subject I should have introduced myself. I’m still grateful to her for that.

I never went unprepared to a professional lunch again. I made an advance plan for each one. I researched the editor and what she published. I made a list of specific clients and projects that would interest her. I memorized that list and how I’d pitch each project. I arrived at the restaurant early then kept my list out of sight and put on my brightest smile.

I didn’t bring up business until the after-the-meal coffee was being served. I didn’t take notes but I listened carefully. After our goodbyes I dashed to the nearest coffee shop and wrote down everything she’d said. Back at my office I accessed the client project most perfect for that editor and emailed it to her. Next day I messengered a backup hard copy as well.

I’d discovered the three stages of doing everything right. Stage 1 – Do your research. Come up with an action plan and a specific strategy for executing that plan. Stage 2 – When your boots are on the ground and the job has to be done follow your plan. But be flexible enough to detour when surprise opportunities arise. Stage 3 – Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

A Writer’s Business Plan stages read like this. Stage 1 – Research your story. Plan your story. Pantsters will do less of this. Stage 2 – Put your you-know-what in a chair and work it off writing every day. Stage 3 – Get your story out there. Submit to traditional agents and editors. Or to your own hired editor who will make your story the best it can be before you indie publish it.

Fill out your own individual details for each of these stages. By the way – no negative thinking is allowed. You absolutely can do this. You’re already on your way to doing everything as right as you possibly can. And when you go to lunch with an editor let me offer a word of advice. If you’re doing everything right you won’t have time to eat.


My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. Next is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launching with summer on June 22nd. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I’m trying to do everything right with both of them.  Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com


A Kick-in-the-Butt Starter – Orr What? Wednesday

Kick in the Butt imageI haven’t been blogging much lately and here’s why. I didn’t get off my butt to do it. I was indulging myself. I needed a Kick (in the Butt) Start but I wasn’t in a kicking frame of mind.

Often when I’m doing nothing I read how-to books to create the impression I’m doing something. I finish a few chapters then they languish on my bookshelves – these days on my Kindle Book Shelf.

So I began reading How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. The title appealed for two reasons. First I need to market my new books successfully. Second I doubt I’ll be able to market my new books successfully.

I was looking for specifics from Joanna. Social media tips. Email list building ideas. That kind of thing. I didn’t think I needed her to mess with my psyche. I didn’t want her to mess with my psyche. Consequently that’s exactly what she did.

She began by snooping around in how I spend my time. I was sure I could ace that one because – even in slough-off periods like lately – I’m a hard worker. I was about to skip time management altogether when I remembered the mantra I press on everybody else to Do It Anyway and did it.

How do I spend my time now Joanna asks? Easy question. I listed my activities plus some ways to do more. When is my most creative time? Easy peasy again. Mornings. Where do I want to be in five years? I had some fantasy fun with that one.

Finally – What would I be willing to give up to make time for writing and marketing activities? I’m not going to sell the TV but I can do social media while it’s on. Then it occurred to me to modify the question. How do I indulge myself in ways I could give up to make more time?

Especially how do I indulge myself mentally? I’m going to be very honest as I answer this question here publicly. I hope I encourage you to be equally honest when you answer this question wherever you are privately.

  1. I indulge in brooding. Mostly about things I can’t possibly change. Like other people.
  2. I indulge in worry. Mostly about what’s already happened and thus also can’t be changed.
  3. I indulge in self-doubt. Mostly about what I fear I can’t do but haven’t yet tried.
  4. I indulge in anger. Toward too many irreducible targets to list.

My indulgences occur in chunks of effort and in sporadic moments. Each one is a time waster. How much productive potential would I recoup if I quit them all? There’s a kick-in-the-butt question. Or maybe it’s a kick in the head that I really need. Come on over Joanna. I’m ready.


My next story is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Launching with summer on June 22nd at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and it’s a kick-in-the-butt story for sure. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.