Are You Building a Body of Work?
The conversation happened years ago yet I recall it like yesterday. I learned a guiding principle for my writing life in publishing. I was on the faculty of a writers' conference which no longer exists. Along with another faculty member who was a literary agent, we were on our way to the event. I had written a few books and been a magazine editor but not worked inside a publishing company. It was early on in my writing career. This agent advised, “Be building a body of work.” It was sound and profound counsel.
Many writers are focused on a book or several books but not understanding the need to build a body of work. That work appears in many places—including books—but also in magazines and online. It is not built overnight but in a continual stream of publishing.
Last week I was speaking with a new potential author for Morgan James Publishing. During our conversation. she commented on my digital footprint. What happens when someone “googles” your name? What do they find on the first few pages? Your digital footprint is part of your body of work as a writer. It's something built over time and with consistent action—like these weekly articles for The Writing Life. Your faithful actions will pay off in the long run.
While on this important topic of building a body of work, let me include several other important reminders for every author.
1. Our words are eternal. Recently I read this article from publisher and long-term friend Dan Balow about the lasting element of words online. As you post on social media, blog or write magazine articles or books, it's good to be reminded these words are captured online forever—a very long time.
2. Your reputation matters. Whether you are conscious of it or not, each interaction with others is building your reputation in the publishing community. From my years in this business, good communication is important and the smallest details can matter.
3. Consistency counts. As you work in the writing field, make sure you do the basics like return phone calls and answer emails. These simple business practices will pay off for you in the long run and help you build an even larger body of work.
How are you building a body of work in the publishing world? Let me know in the comments below.
How can you build a body of work in publishing? This article highlights key points in the process. (ClickToTweet)