By definition, Mise en Place means “putting in place.” The skill is exemplified in the world of cooking where chefs are taught to have all of their tools and foods ready before a recipe is started. Knives are sharpened, the cutting board is clean, herbs are ready, vegetables pared, and the meat is prepped. All that’s left is putting it all together to make a delicious meal.
As an author, I hadn’t given much consideration to the term. I suppose my preparation was more academic. I had learned the rules of grammar, took creative writing courses to know how to craft a story, and read thousands of books through the years to understand what captivated me as a reader. In a sense, I thought that I had put into place what was needed to be a writer.
As an independent author, however, I was far from prepared. My story was written, but I’d put nothing in place for it to be successful. Julia Child would have been appalled with my lack of mise en place.
I watched tutorials, read writing blogs, and listened to podcasts to learn what I needed to do as an indie author. Step by step, I began to build my author’s platform–Facebook, Goodreads, AllAuthor, and Amazon author’s pages, a website, Twitter and Instagram accounts. I learned how to find keywords, create ads, and write a newsletter. All were time-consuming, taking me away from making progress on my next book.
Why is mise en place so important for an author? Regardless of whether he or she is traditionally-published or goes the independent route, books don’t reach bestseller status without a following. Publishers make sure that all of the required elements are put into place before a book launch. Independent authors need to do the same.
I’m working on it, slowly but surely. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I even enjoy some of the marketing elements, though not all. I don’t like watching the cost per clicks on an ad increase without a corresponding rise in sales. I don’t like to beg for reviews of my books on Amazon or Goodreads, though I know we all read reviews before we purchase anything on-line. I don’t like to spend time trying to expand my mailing list despite being told that I need at least 10,000 subscribers. Really? 10,000?
What I love most about being an independent author is that I can connect directly with my readers. Their support and encouragement keep me writing. I’ll get better with the mise en place stuff. Julia will be proud of me. I promise.