Saturday, July 2, 2011

What to Do? What to Do?

It is no small thing to draft a book, and there is little doubt Sarah worked at her writing activity. What should Sarah have done differently? Here are some suggestions.

·       From 1976 to 1980, even while working for Yale as a research associate and computer programmer, if she intended to write for profit in the future, she should have:

o   Begun writing

o   Taken pertinent classes

o   Formulated a business plan

o   Joined and participated in a writer’s league

o   Attended writer’s conferences

o   Joined a critiquing group

o   Started submitting pieces to contests and publishers

·       When she learned of the publisher of travel guides who needed information for a revision to an African travel guide and contacted the firm and received information regarding submissions, she should have incorporated such into her plan and followed up or explained why she hadn’t.

·       While in Africa and Israel and employed by Weizmann, Sarah should have tracked her writing efforts, logging typewriter use, research time and efforts, and any other efforts she expended to write her draft based upon her adventures there. Did she work eight hours a day for her employer and write for one hour a day? She should have kept financial and non-financial records of writing activities. Also, she should have modeled an exemplar, someone who had already sold well and made lots of money in her genre— Bill Bryson, who wrote A Walk in the Woods and, much later, In a Sunburned Country comes to mind. At the same time she should have retained her originality and voice and planned how her work could compete or fill a new niche. (It’s hard to convince the IRS or the Tax Court that you moved somewhere to gather writing materials to write a particular piece of fiction while you’re making substantial wages from your employer. That’s especially true if the wages you make are substantial compared to the revenue or potential revenue of writing.)

·       Sarah should have gotten her work published. At the very least, she should have shown she consumed herself trying and that she had an alternative business plan to market it. It wouldn’t hurt, for example, to show that she could at worst self-publish and peddle her work. Potentially, then she could eventually generate revenues like forerunner Bill Bryson. (Of course, her writing skill would have to rival or exceed his—perhaps this would be another goal for her business plan.)

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