Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why You Should Meet Your Deadlines

As a young reporter, I learned the importance of meeting deadlines. One summer I worked for my local newspaper. We would have an editorial meeting early in the morning and get our assignments. I had to turn in my story by our 11 a.m deadline and the paper was printed by 3 p.m. If I missed my deadline, the story was killed. Deadlines motivated me to keep my fingers on the keyboard and complete my writing.

Many writers are notorious procrastinators. They sharpen their pencils, read Facebook, answer email, make coffee or anything that will prevent them from writing more on their manuscript.

Some book authors are repeatedly late in meeting their book deadlines. Some writers miss their due date by years. These authors who are late cause a huge negative ripple effect on their relationships within the publishing house (whether they know it or not).

When you sign a book contract with a publisher, it sets off a detailed chain of events within the publisher. They have specific deadlines for internal benchmarks like writing your catalog copy or the press release for your book or presenting your book to the sales team. If you miss your deadline, then without knowing it, you have potentially derailed the success of your book. 

It doesn't matter what you write: newsletters, magazines, nonfiction books or novels, it's important for you to meet your deadlines—even if you don't come from a journalism background (like I do).

Here's some tips for you in this important writing area:

1. Set your own deadlines and make them. Break down your assignment into smaller steps and complete those benchmarks. Success will breed success and you will get better and better at achieving your goals.

2. Many writers set a production word count for their writing. You can do this with short magazine articles or chapters for your current work-in-progress or any other type of writing. Set a realistic word count that you can achieve.

3. Set your personal deadline ahead of the deadline from the publication or publisher. Interruptions, sickness, accidents and other things are bound to interfere with your schedule. It happens to everyone. The central question is how will you handle those delays. Will you make up for the time with extra effort? Will you write so you are ahead of the curve and can make allowance for the delay? Or will you have to call your editor (or email them) asking for more time?

If you want to be a stand-out, go-to writer among writers (and most of us do want to be that type of writer), then you need to consistently beat (turn in ahead of time) or meet your deadlines. Editors want to work with writers who are dependable—and no matter what the writer is facing, they are able to deliver excellent writing that meets their needs. 

Let's be honest. Quality storytelling is a challenge to locate. And if the writer can deliver quality material on or before the deadline, then the writer has elevated his profile and becomes attractive to the editor.

It's important for you to meet your deadlines with editors.

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