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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Deliver: A-Z Challenge


My themes for this year’s A-Z challenge are writing, the writer’s life, and living in the creative flow.

If you say you’re going to do something, deliver. Preferably on time.

Scale doesn’t matter.

A guest blog post, a returned email, an entire novel—if you’ve said you’ll do it, and even one person is expecting it, move heaven and earth to deliver it.

I have a few particular blog postings that I follow religiously. Unlike me, they schedule their posts. One is every month. One is every day. One is every week.

And one is late, horrifically so, every single month.

The author always has a million fantastical excuses about why their highly read and anticipated posting is late. Every month, the excuse is even more dire. “Sorry. So sorry but…my brain actually burst last night…”

To say that I no longer believe this writer is an understatement.

I now expect that this author will always be late, and thus do not bother to dial in at their regularly scheduled time. What is the point? They have lost me as a regular reader and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Possibly worse, I know several authors with traditional publishing contracts that have failed to deliver manuscripts on time. One week, one month late?—maybe not the end of the world. Two months, six months, a year? You better be George R. R. Martin making that publisher so much money they will forgive you anything. 

You are not George R. R. Martin (yet anyway). 

People were counting on you.

And losing their trust is everything—to your career.

It’s not any different if you self publish. You have readers that are invested in your story. They what to know when they can expect your next installment.

Tell them.

But be honest with them. Be honest with yourself.

When Midheaven, the second book in my Ascendant series came out in the summer of 2015, I wanted to tell my readers that they could expect Descendant, the final book, the following year.

But I knew I wouldn’t be able to deliver that.

At the time, I had too many other commitments that needed responsibly shoring up before I could commit myself to being able to produce and publish that final book in one year.

So I listened to some complaints about the third book being two years away—but I never promised something to my readers that I knew I couldn’t deliver.

Their expectations will be met and thus their trust retained.

This is in keeping with thinking about your writing like a career. It should have all the same checks and balances that were placed on you by those external managers and bosses at that day job—only now, you manage and check yourself.

There is greater freedom in your day to day routines, but also a greater responsibility to your client…

the reader.

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