Create a Writer's Pipeline
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Take a look at the image for this article and you will see the inside of a pipeline. These pipes are built to move and transport material from one place to another. As a writer, I also need a pipeline of work. With this pipeline, I will continue to publish my writing and also earn a living to be able to pay my bills. I’m going to give you some ideas how to create and maintain your own writer’s pipeline.
What is a pipeline? A pipeline is what I am calling a series of actions that you take to get writing projects and increase your income as a writer. These actions are not singular but something you grow and do over and over on a consistent basis. You want to create this pipeline because it is the method to get consistent and regular writing work. Every writer needs a steady stream of work and writing projects. Your pipeline will be unique to you and whatever you want to write.
How to create one? This creation process can be formalized with a simple spreadsheet or some other method but you intentionally work at getting more projects on your schedule. And you need to create a method to keep track of what you are doing, the responses and to help you follow up in a consistent yet gentle way. The truth is every one of us have way too much in motion and a correctly handled follow-up will stir activity and possibly a book deal or a magazine assignment.
For example, last week, why was I creating and scheduling posts on social media posts which would not appear until the second week in October? These actions were a part of my planning process to stir connection, relationships and also add to my pipeline. Your pipeline will be completely different from mine but if you want a steady stream of writing projects, you need to be creating and maintaining it.
While your pipeline will be different, every writer has some consistent elements in their pipeline. Each of us have to learn to use the right tools for your writing. For example, if you want to write magazine articles on a consistent basis, some publications require you send a query letter or one page pitch. It's a developed skill to learn what goes into a query letter but one every writer can do. I have detailed information in this article (follow the link). Also I have written a much more detailed resource (and inexpensive) resource called How to Succeed As a Magazine Writer.
If you are writing a book, then you need to learn how to write a book proposal--even if you self-publish. This document is where you create the business plan for your book and is another important skill for every writer to learn and develop. I’ve written two book proposals that received six-figure advances and I’ve reviewed many proposals in my years in publishing. The best way to learn about proposals is to read my Book Proposals That Sell (use this link to get it free) or you can buy it here. I've also created a free teleseminar answering your questions about proposal creation. You can use many different ways to learn about proposal creation. The key is to learn this information and give the editor or agent the best possible submission.
Where do you want to take your writing? Do you want to have more assigned projects and more book contracts? Then you need to be pitching more editors and agents with your ideas. If you feel like those pitches are going into a black hole (no or little response), then you need to use the gentle follow-up. Hardly anyone talks about it but there is a large volume of submissions and things get lost or mishandled in the process. Your gentle follow-up can stir things back into action.
I’m encouraging you to create this writer’s pipeline then use it with persistence, clear and timely communication and consistency. That continued effort on your part may not have instant results but you will gain traction and results if you stick with it. Many writers give up way too early on the process.
Do you have a writer’s pipeline? Let me know in the comments below.