Occasionally, we do talk about publishing. We talk about agents and genres and query letters and platforms and hooks and literary magazines and contests. Most of this has been centered on acquiring a literary agent. Step 1: write the good book. Step 2: get the literary agent.
But, what happens after that? We're getting a glimpse of Step 3 thanks to Scott and other bloggers. But, what's the last step? And, I don't mean in our lives (that, for me, involves being trapped in an elevator with a bullet wound in my chest so that I have exactly three minutes to tell one person one thing that will change their world view forever), but I mean for each particular project. When will we know that we have reached the finish line?
Most of the time, I'm working to GET AS MANY READERS AND AS MUCH FAME AND FORTUNE AS POSSIBLE. The problem is, that's a completely unrecognizable goal--I'll never ever know if I've reached it.
Now, I try to be more specific, and this is what I've come up with: I'd love to get a $10,000 advance. I'd love to know that a few thousand people have read my book. I'd love to be on Charlie Rose. I'd love to get a good review by Harold Bloom. For my first book, I think I will be quite happy if I attain all or even one of these goals, which currently seem unreachable and a little embarrassing to admit. But, as impossible as they seem, I feel like they're at least recognizable. I'll know if I've been on Charlie Rose--I'll remember the color of his tie. I'll know if I get $10,000 because I'll own that new fire-resistant lab coat I've always wanted. (Okay, more likely I'll use 70% of it for self-promotion and put the rest in my Roth IRA.)
Perhaps, if I do attain these goals, I'll realize that they don't actually reflect what I wanted in the first place. But, at least I'll know if they've happened. I don't want to chase something that is impossible to catch in publishing terms. (I'm all for chasing the dream of writing that perfect novel.)
You? How specific are your goals, and will you know when you've reached them? What do you need to accomplish before you've made it to the finish line?